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Life After Death

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Photo: Drinking it warm, of course...


Back in the day, my buddies and I had a tradition where we would drink a warm Dead Guy each year to prove our manliness.  I remember it being a vile task.  Yesterday, I was at Booze R Us getting beer flavored water for the MIL and I saw a single of the Dead Guy.  I thought that I would get some to see if it still tasted as horrid as it did before.

Before I get to the outcome of my experience, let me give you some history.

The year was 1990 and it was a tumultuous time for our nation. The clear beverage craze gave us all a reason to live. The information superhighway showed the average person what some nerd thinks about Star Trek. And the domestication of the dog continued unabated.  This was also the year that a show called Twin Peaks hit the airwaves.

The two most critical plot lines in Twin Peaks was that a high school student was murdered and there was a place called the Bookhouse.  And for the purposes of this post, the Bookhouse is the only critical point.

On February 23, 1990 it was raining and we were thirsty.  My three friends and I all had our Mickey’s Bigmouth malt liquor and we were ready to hit the road.  The quantity of the rain made us stop and think for a moment about driving all the way out to Prarie City to go drinking, which was longer than we were accustomed to stopping and thinking.  The baby of the group said that there was an older couple who lived by him who had an old woodshed and the suggested we ask if we could go there to drink.  He went up to his neighbors and explained our predicament.  The husband said that he would rather we go down there instead of driving all the way too boonies.  He even offered the use of a hibachi to have a small fire and an old oil burning lantern for light.  So we grabbed our beer and headed down.

First we lit the lantern, then the fire.  Finally it was our turn.  For reasons unknown to me, we agreed that we would not leave that night until the lantern ran out of oil.  I think we ended up being down there for at least three or four hours.  We headed home afterwards and that was that.

The next night rolled around and we found ourselves drawn the woodshed.  Over the course of the next four years, we spent two or three nights a week in what became known as the Bookhouse.  We each had our own chair and visitors were seldom welcome.  Every night included several rituals that still remain whenever we get together today.

The first was that each time we went down there, we had to bring two beers that had never entered the book house.  This was 25 years ago and micro breweries were just coming into their own and new beer was hard to come by.  We frequented Cost Plus and out-of-the-way liquor stores.  Often our rovings for new beer took out of Sacramento county, and more than once into different states.  By the time we had our last book house, we had amassed over 300 different kinds of beer in the book house.

At the end, we had consumed over 2,000 bottles of beer.  And at the end, we had yet to remove a single bottle from the Book House.  For reasons as obscure as those that drove the lantern decision, we keep all the bottles.  There was an old saw table that served as the receptacle for the remnants of libatious habit.  After the table was full, we moved on to the shelving, the floors, the rafters, anything that could hold a bottle.

We even spent a portion of each evening reminding each other of the importance of proper hygiene when using the toilet.

So now you are probably thinking, ‘We are 653 words into this post.  When are you going to get to the Dead Guy!’  Ok, ok, here is the story.

One evening, we were opening some of the new beers.  The drill was this: Each person would open their own beer, take a drink, and pass it down.  We would each take a drink and comment on the beer.  One of the nights beers was Dead Guy and we all proclaimed to be so bad that only true men could drink this stuff.  So we started an annual tradition of drinking one warm Dead Guy each year.  Back then, they printed the date on the barrel of the Dead Guy sits on.

Fast forward a couple of decades.  I cracked the brew above open and drank it, warm of course.  ‘So, how’d you like it?’….

Dr. Theodor S. Geisel was a prolific author in the who lived in the twenty-first century.  He penned any number of books that addressed how to change habits and expand your life.  He wrote one particular book that addressed the profound reluctance of a the main character, to try a new, grassy hued food, accompanied with swine-dish.  Through out the book, this unnamed character is relentlessly pursued by Sam.  Sam proposes that this unnamed character attempt to consume the food in a wide variety of locations and circumstances.  Sam’s wild juxtaposition of suggestions lends no credence to either the quality of his character or credentials as a gourmand.  Despite these flaws, Sam is able to convince his prey that his concoction is not only editable, it is delicious.  At the end of the book, this unnamed character is heard to exclaim:

I like green eggs and ham! 
I do!! I like them, Sam-I-am!’

My reaction to Dead Guy was very similar (sans the drinking with a goat.  A guy has to draw the line somewhere).  I like Dead Guy Ale and ha… never mind.

And so it goes.