This is wishful thinking, of course. Here in Chicago we get grim, hot humid summers, but they start around July 4th. (Memorial Day mostly requires a sweatshirt, windbreaker or wool turtleneck — or some kind of layering combo.) It’s the middle of February so I’m going to have to stick with decent ales and legwarmers for the foreseeable future..
I wait until the sun’s over the yardarm religiously, making exceptions for the few and far between elegant restaurant lunches. When my friend Liz took us out to lunch with her sister Meghan at Blackbird last fall a bottle of prosecco and three of Henriot champagne disappeared like kegs at a frat party. (Have I thanked you enough for that fab lunch, Liz?)
But drinking during the day isn’t my thing, with one fizzy exception: a cold, cheap beer on a hot day. It’s an occasion of joy, medicinal and hedonistic at the same time. The set up has to be perfect.
My hair and my clothing must be plastered, sweat-stuck, to my skin. If I’ve been clever enough to wear a sunscreen, rivers of perspiration have washed it away, and the pale Hibernian skin on my nose will peel tomorrow. An afternoon in the bleachers , a county fair — they’re obvious opportunities. But for the full appreciation of the experience, that brewski must be earned. Here are a few times situations where you might want to have a six pack of PBR handy.
In a moment of insanity, on a 97 degree day with no air conditioning, you decide to wallpaper the smallest stillist room in the house, the downstairs powder room. You watch your marriage begin to crumble during those four hours. The smarter half of the couple suggests leaving the border for another day.
Thunderstorms are approaching, and you want to lay that brick patio now.
You’ve almost dislocated your back pushing a half-ton rototiller the length of both sides of your house, to create a daffodil border and a n herb garden. The mercury is 98 in the shade. If your fingernails are dirty and your cheek is topsoil smudged, you’re golden.
I’m sure you can come up with a few ideas of your own. But there’s a ritual here, and it should be followed as closely as the bells and smells of a High Anglican church during Easter week.
The beer must be canned, not bottled. It must be cheap Lite beer. You don’t want to be tempted to sip, and that thin near-hopless slips down easy. Go for Pabst Blue Ribbon, Bud Light, or that dreadful-looking Michelob Ultra that Lance Armstrong is pushing in Olympics ads.
Don’t stop for a shower. Grab a can from the fridge, rub it across your forehead, along your neck, and into the neck of your Tshirt. Go back outside and pop the cap. Throw your head back and chug — you shouldn’t come up for air more than three times. Let that thin-flavored, fizzy lifesaving fluid wet your lips, dribble down your chin and give you a cold beer brain-freeze. I find a second can an anti-climax myself, but if you’ve been pouring asphalt in Death Valley, be my guest.
Well, anticipation makes everything sweeter. Just four more months!