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Take Your Medicine and Your Strawberry Beer
We're starting to turn back into humans, the luckier of us at least, which isn't enough but it's a start.
Hello! I hope you are having a nice day, one that includes the proper levels of warmth and moisture both inside and out. In a couple hours I’m walking across the pretty bridge to get vaccinated at the convention center around the corner from the defunct dick-shaped cupcake store and I haven’t been this happy in many months. I think this’ll be my first dose of two, depending on which flavor of vaccine they’re serving today and also whether I get hit by a bus within the next three weeks, so I probably won’t be able to upgrade my lifestyle for another couple fortnights, but I’ll become marginally less likely to die by the hour and more important I can start looking forward to things like haircuts and teeth-cleanings and naps induced by mundane exhaustion rather than despair.
I’ve heard a lot, and noticed a little, about a subset of misery perverts who are struggling to accept that this bullshit is finally winding down. I beg you to notice that I said “winding” not “has fully wound.” I know it’s not over. Scarier variants and current spikes are both real and bad, and of course my sanguinity is based on my own bloody good fortune. But I’ve been feeling better about all this for a couple months now. Our government failed us for the better part of a year, and there will surely be more pandemics in the future, and there’s every chance we’ll fuck those up too. That is all true and all terrible. Also true: We’ve got several different perfectly effective vaccines now, we’ve shot up a good chunk of the most vulnerable people, and we’re working our way through the rest of you sad bastards. It’s getting better. It just is. Stay mad formever at whomever you want, but don’t deny that our collective reality is improving very quickly and definitively.
After such a brutal year or five, it can feel irresponsible to take any good news at face value. It’s hard to remember that there are other-case scenarios besides shittiest. The pessimists were right about so many things for so long that it took me until February to realize that negativity is just a personality type, and it doesn’t confer any particular prescience or wisdom. In predicting the course of the last presidency and the current plague, your gloomiest friends were almost always right. But the situation has changed. So keep your chin up, get your shots, and meet me at the bar ASAP.
God I hate that “ASAP” part, because I have a pretty specific time in mind, namely two weeks after your last shot. This means that I get to go to the bar before a lot of you, and that blows. I’m mainly concerned with myself of course but I care about you guys enough to cringe at the idea of having fun when some of the homies still can’t have none. Now I’m definitely not your doctor and probably not even your dad and therefore I have no authority over when you can or can’t do whatever your governor and conscience allow, but allow me the fantasy that we’re all on the same wavelength here, for the sake of camaraderie. And since we’ve got to pick the one wave, let’s make it mine since I’m already logged in here and everything, it’s just the easiest way.
OK so since we all agree on when to return to bars, that means I finally get to stop judging people. I do it, because I’m only a human and not one of the better ones at that, but I don’t think it’s fun or healthy. That’s why I’m so thrilled that vaccination is pushing this from a drunk-driving situation into a seatbelt situation as far as whether we have any right to weigh in on each other’s choices. If you were living wild in 2020, you really were endangering other people’s lives. But once we get these vaccines fully cranking, hey man, take your medicine or don’t, I hope you don’t get sick but I can’t claim it’s really my business. My favorite friendships are the medium-casual barroom sort, and those don’t withstand a lot of unnecessary judgment. I can’t wait to return to my default of benevolently lazy libertarianism when it comes to other people’s lifestyle choices. Fuck a hot dog, put ketchup on your partner, listen to the Foo Fighters, none of that concerns me.
The concept of freedom has been co-opted by the shitheads to mean “whatever I want to do at all times without a first thought to how it might affect another soul living, dead, or Grohl,” but when it comes to personal choices that don’t have repercussions for anyone beyond you and the handful of people with voting rights in your life, I really do try not to tread on a fool. Hell I won’t even judge you if you recommend a beer just because your buddy Handsome John the back-alley pizza genius stole you some from the brewery he works at, which in this case is Revolution.
I like Revolution a lot and not just because it’s from Chicago, also because Deth’s Tar is one of my very favorite beers and because Anti-Hero is a widely available, reasonably priced, and appropriately bitter IPA. Fist City Pale is great, too. Plus now this 12-pack of freedom-themed fruited sours that fell off the back of the truck right in front of my house last week! Man, Revolution. The Freedom Session Sours box contains a quarter-dozen each of Freedom of Speach (peach), Freedom of Press (black currant), Freedom of Expression (strawberry rhubarb), and Freedom of Assembly (blueberry ginger).
This is a sly concept, highlighting the best parts of the first amendment while sidestepping the trickier matters of religion and whether James Madison, that great lover of liberty and slavery, wanted you to wear a mask at the grocery store; it’s also not seltzer. The beers are 4.5% ABV, which makes them ideal mixers. Press (black currant) is nice with a shot of gin and Speach goes great with bourbon. My favorite to drink straight are Assembly (blueberry ginger) and Expression (strawberry rhubarb), the latter of which reminds me of strawberry soda, which might sound like faint praise but I haven’t had strawberry soda in 30 years so we’re talking about happy nostalgia rather than direct flavor comparison. The key thing is there’s not a dud in the box—even the ones better suited to boilermaking are valid on their own, tasting like you’d imagine and neither too sweet nor too sour, a rare trick in this line of work. I’ll pay for this the next time I see it for sale.
I also recommend Mister Mustard Original for all of your hot dogging and most of your other needs.