Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beer Reverie

Sometimes, while in the middle of doing something mundane like driving out of Santa Cruz on highway 1 at stop and go speeds, my mind wanders and takes me on an equally mundane journey through random memories and I lose my sense of reality. I drift aimlessly between thoughts of my most recent behavior of the previous night at the brewpub, including all the sordid details that led me to believe I lack any redeemable qualities. I don't think I was being inconsiderate, just misunderstood but it left me feeling alien.
This prompted a flash back to an earlier time in my life, I think I was eight. My father yanked on the newly mended broken arm that I'd been nursing for weeks after the cast was removed, trying to force it back to bending naturally. Later, I clutched it bent to my chest and supported it at the wrist in the exact position it was in while bandaged. It ached and I was certain that even the slightest bending motion would snap the freshly knitted bones again and the memory of that original pain lived on in my arm with vengeful persistence. Did I misunderstand my father? Was he concerned with helping strengthen my newly healed limb with some sort of forced rehabilitation or was he simply inconsiderate? Is this the original cause for the inconsideration that now shows up in my behavior? I'm sure there's more to it than that.

I snapped back from my reverie and for a moment, focused on my driving. It was late afternoon and the heat of the day was in full progress. The sound of the passing traffic made me turn to see the tired faces of people around me going to who knows where, and for some reason this brought me to the recent memory of the carton of soy milk I left out on the kitchen counter. I knew that Susan would put it back in the fridge after she fixed her morning tea. This led to the concern that it would be hard for her to find a place on the shelf for it because I had crammed every available space that morning with cases of bottled beer for an upcoming beer tasting I was to conduct. I pushed dairy products, bread bags and other miscellaneous food stuff to the sides with aggressive force. Now, large bottles of Belgian ales and six packs of homebrew crowded the chilled real estate. The recognition of this one selfish act struck me as a single example representing a catalog of numerous lines I've crossed over in our domestic agreements, infringements that brought me to ask myself where my values lie.

At the time, I justified to myself that it wouldn't be long before I relinquished the unfair portion of space I claimed, but I didn't think it through further than the end of that silent statement. A day, a week, it didn't matter to me, because this was highly valuable beer for God's sake, and stood on it's own merit as deserving of priority over the blocks of cheese and plastic tubs of leftovers. Who could question its importance, giving it the authority to occupy with impunity. I tried to disregard the shadow of concern that lingered, a concern that insisted that I'd pushed the boundaries of consideration. That common if unspoken agreement between couples that the refrigerator is a shared place and shouldn't be taken for granted much less taken over. This all occurred to me between thoughts as I idled in my car, too late now that the deed was done of course. In fact, much too late, relative to the relationship 'time/space' continuum.

In my defense, I realized how it's an unnatural state for me to behave with thoughtful and compromising behavior in regards to others or with selfless generosity. Regrettably, preemptive consideration is a foreign land, inhabited by other people. I live just outside there in a place I like to call, Me.  Most of the time, thinking of others occurs to me as an afterthought, slow, deliberate and under pressure, like gas bubbles rising from a pr-historic tar pit. Still, I console myself, it's something isn't it? To have regret, even as an afterthought. It's often the case that I spend a lot of time later trying to correct the damages caused by my disregard. Better than nothing, I tell myself. Better than being inconsiderate and not caring at all.

Well, as late and slow as I am, I do care about how I effect others, which led me to believe that my internal concern was enough to correct the wrong action. Isn't that enough?
I thought, wouldn't she recognize that I have feelings of remorse and regret and she'd say to herself, in the voice of someone trying to prevent their new puppy from peeing on the rug:
'Look at him having those concerned thoughts, what a good boy. He's experiencing such discomfort over taking up all that room in the refrigerator. He must feel really bad about that and you know what, I forgive him, don't I. Yes I do.'
Is that such a weird fantasy? Maybe it happens like that for some, I don't know.
The unfortunate part of this line of thinking is that it led me to some serious self reflection and to wonder where my priorities lie. Does my passion for all things beer related over shadow the importance of a relationship that I highly value? I have to be honest, this is a tough question and deserves to be looked at carefully and with deep intent.

On the one hand, I've got a relationship that is loving and satisfying on all kinds of levels, too numerous to elaborate here, (even though I'm sure Susan would like me to). On the other hand, the passion I have for beer and all things that define what beer is to me can and often does take precedence over some important domestic responsibilities. Fortunately,  I don't have to chose between my relationship with beer and my wife, I can have both. But if someone held a gun to my head and made me choose between the two, I'd probably think long and hard. In fact, chances are that I'd think too long and have to take a bullet for my effort.

Am I alone here? Leave a comment.


Mark N said...

I think the fridge episode was a minor discourtesy.

My wife and I have a joint bank account, and towards the end of the month I always drill into her that funds are short, so any impulse purchases must be contained until another time. Yet, if I spot that vital piece of brewing equipment, it gets purchased. Always.

It makes me feel bad, but hey, I love brewing beer. More than the wife? - I don’t want to go there in case the answer is not the one I thought it would be.

Beer Diary... said...

Hi Mark,
thanks for the feedback, by the way I'm really enjoying your blog. Cheers!

Russ Tarvin said...

I think the issue is not of having one or the other. I think it is a matter of love and joy. We love our wives, and we love spending time with them. We have a joy for beer, making it, tasting it and drinking beer.

Beer is something that brings us joy, so if you truly love someone then you accomodate that activity to bring joy to the other person (as long as it is not destructive). It should go both ways, and I at least try to encourage my wife to do things she loves, and sometimes I even have to go with her (gasp!).

That said, she probably knows that the fridge will fix itself as you drink it or share it.

I guess the true test is which would you save, your wife or your beer if the house was on fire?

Jan said...

When i read this a few days ago it's left me evaluating my own relationships and my affair with beer. we have a designated beer fridge, but i share my space with men who also love beer. Although i consider myself to have the most discerning taste and downright affection. we still battle for space. The ultimate question for me is; How would i react to someone drinking my last Pliny the Elder........

I would suggest Mark, that you grab those plastic containers of leftovers when you go out the door for lunch and note your mention of 'passion', this entries score: beer -2, susan -0

Beer Diary... said...

The up side is Susan would never drink a bottled beer from the frige without checking with me about it. As far as passion, I do tend to display show it for beer but I'm working on a balance since I actually have greater passion for Susan.
Thanks for reading Beer Diary...

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