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I’m done with the buzz for the night. An hour go I took some time off from the Diner to bang out a post, noting with amusement that it was 300 words long, the length of the old newspaper column. Work for your bread, monkey boy. Do you good. I’ll have to keep an eye on the comments queue, and do the nightly registration photoshop, but aside from that, and this, and the post that’ll go up around midnight, I’m pretty much done for the day. Kick back! Miller time.

Or it would be if I drank beer. I miss beer, sometimes. I wonder why I don’t have any. Oh, right: the gut. One of these days I may decide to give up; I may go to Gap, buy an armload of pants with a waist size two inches greater, and commit myself to growing into them through the gentle help of hops and pure mountain water, but I don’t think so. You lose your taste for it after a while. I know, that makes people rear back in horror: never! That would be like losing my love of . . . of . . . well, of beer! Sorry, but nothing else so drastic comes to mind! Perhaps. But I still remember my first taste of the stuff. I was eight, maybe nine. Grandpa gave me a sip. In those days, that’s how it was done: when your folks weren’t looking, your sly old grandfather let you have a sip, just to slake your curiosity. I’d never tasted anything worse in my life. It was Grain Belt, his preferred beer, and one of the better beer names, given that “belt” is a slang for a shot of hooch. Mostly it tasted like can. Flat, warm, nasty can-juice. Grandpa how can you drink that it’s horrible yuk grandma can we have some Shasta? Thanks. Eww.

There's still a sign for the old brand in Minneapolis - unlit, but indominable:

Years later I tried it again on my own accord – I never drank beer in college, believe it or not, even though I worked as a suds-slinger at the Valli. The Valli sold a vile fluid called 3.2 beer – it lacked the full alcoholic punch of strong beer, which meant that the lads had to drink even more to achieve the desired effect, and that meant long long lines at the dank cramped pissoir. Women drank wine, mostly – a varnish-derived Chablis, a sad Rose, and a vigorous Sangria whose rude animal bouquet let you know in advance you’d be yodeling that stuff up if you had more than three glasses. Anyway, I never drank the beer. Post college, I changed my mind, and drank bad beer. Cruel beer. Milwaukee’s Best, for heaven’s sake. Why? Well, it was cheap, and I was broke, and they sold it across the street, that’s why. Later I learned the pleasures of better beers, and trained my palate to enjoy the full range of the brewer’s art. Then one day I picked up some Grain Belt, because A) the label had gone retro, and B) the bottle was clear, and it looked so crisp and refreshing.

Poured five out in the garden, I think. Sorry, Grandpa.

Today was Gnat’s last day of school. The Minneapolis school system drags it out for no apparent fargin’ reason, and I’m still irritated about that. Monday they had a Field Trip, which is fine, but it was a park. Today they watched the movie “While Fang,” the plot of which Gnat described thus: an evil man bought a dog for six nuggets, which was like a lot of money in olden days, and he was mean to him. And so on. It’s no big deal, but everyone else was out of school last Friday, and many summer programs began on Monday. Grrr. Well, I can’t blame her teacher, who’s a pip and a dear woman; I know she had a lump in her throat today when she bade goodbye to the class. That must be hard, and no amount of nonsense about “oh, you’ll see them in the hallways” can compensate for the loss. Some you won’t miss that much; most you’ll wish well; a few will break your heart, because they’re bound to grow up and forget you.

I remember my kindergarten teacher, for three reasons: one, she played us a minor key tune on the piano on a rainy day. Two, she disciplined me for doing a mouth-fart on my arm during nap time. Three, she helped me zip up my zipper, and, well, it got caught. She probably thought I’ve just created another Richard Speck. I remember other teachers too, but the nuances of the day are utterly lost. I’d say this was a defect in the human model, but if we could remember the specifics of our happiest childhood times we’d spend our lives trying to recapture them. It’s no coincidence most men reach back to high school or college as the paradigms for personal joy & satisfaction, after all. I’d give anything to be down at the Valli right now with a roll of quarters, playing Asteroids with my pals.

Without the whole what-will-I-do-with-my-life, providing-Reagan-doesn’t-start-WWIII-thing. Which was big. And I still didn’t drink beer: nerves of steel.

Anyway. I videotaped her getting on the bus in the fall, and videotaped her getting off in the summer. As I sat on a rock in the neighbor’s lawn, waiting for the bus, I turned the camera on myself and noted what had transpired over the school year. No small amount of change, and I’m happy for it: I’m still living on the same plane I occupied the moment they told me the newspaper column was dead. I’m still in Disneyworld.


Gnat just came out to the Gazebo to sit on the arm of the chair and watch me type. We got to talking about Pokemon. (Team Rocket mentioned Minnesota in an episode tonight; big moment here at Jasperwood. It’s like a Klingon mentioning Fargo.) So that took up some time. Now I must write tomorrow’s early morning post, and reward myself with some television: the Deadwood season three discs arrived via Netflix today, hurrah. Oh: multi-page money update can be found here, if you like. It's Japan! Thanks for the visit, and I’ll see you in the morning at