They’d given me a free pass to the beer garden, and after perusing the entire outdoor market, I decided that it was time to use it.
My friend and I approached the beer garden’s entrance where two men stood conversing.
I greeted both of them, showed one of them my little orange entry card, and then watched him shake his head.
“You’ll prrrrrobably want to wait until 2:30 to use that,” he said, indicating the card. “This session is ending in eleven minutes, and if you wait until we set-up again, you’ll have a whole hundred and twenty minutes to enjoy the garden.”
My friend nodded her agreement. I also considered the man’s advice, and although it was sensible, I didn’t want to wait another 41 minutes before entering the garden — I’d been volunteering (first) and then exploring (second) all morning, and the odd November heat was making me tired. I also hadn’t eaten anything all day, and I also missed my German Shepherds and had a few story critiques and Spanish assignments to catch up on.
“I think I can do it in 11 minutes,” I said, firmly presenting my pass.
His eyes widened. “Whew… alright lady. What kind of beer do you like?” he asked, wanting to point me in the right direction, I guess.
“I like wine,” I answered simply.
He and my friend laughed.
She turned to speak with me again, but he interrupted her, grabbing my shoulders. “YOU’VE GOT TEN MORE MINUTES! GO!”
When I was first given the pass to the beer garden, I immediately thought of current friends (and old friends) who might enjoy it more than I would; one was stuck at work, another one would be hard to get the card to, and the third one was an out-of-touch dummy stupid-o storm.
Then, it occurred to me: I can enjoy the beer garden! I’m an adult! I don’t really like beer, or at least I don’t think I do, but this’ll be a good opportunity to broaden my horizons… to find out for sure.
So after being pushed into the garden, I took a few seconds to assess my surroundings: lots of people, loud people; the pungent scent of alcohol; little plastic tables littered about the small enclosure with unopened bags of chips on them, and booths with happy beer vendors stationed just behind them.
I nodded and turned to the left, planning on making a full circle.
The first beer I tried was cranberry-flavored. I actually really liked it!
The second one was some pale-ale, grapefruit-and-citrus-notes, yadda yadda yahhhh, and I did NOT like it. I discreetly emptied my glass beside a tree.
The third one was unremarkable, and I did not like it.
The fourth one was supposed to taste like a bloody mary, which obviously meant something to the girl who poured it for me, but I thought that it tasted like cold tomato soup and that it was completely unsuitable without a grilled cheese served alongside it.
I offered it to the ground.
The fifth drink purported to mimic a cream soda, but it was SO totally unlike a cream soda. What is WRONG with these people? I thought to myself. Their interpretation and description of flavor is so ODD!
So I went back to the first man who had poured the cranberry juice (aka good beer) and asked for more of it. Numero seis.
And then I left.
I was the first person to leave the garden and made a beeline for my friend, feeling a little giddy and a little sick to my stomach. I had probably consumed the equivalent of ONE glass of beer in ten minutes’ time. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon.
On the bus back to the parking lot, she leaned over and asked me how I was feeling.
“Oh, just fine!” I assured her. “And I’ve already got a plan in place — if things take a turn for the worse and I need to vomit, I’ve got my purse unzipped,” I smiled, gently patting the bag.
Conclusion: I prefer wine.
Before the beer garden, I spent the majority of my time exploring Natalie’s booth, Natalie being a cool, middle-aged Jewish gal from Huntsville. She makes glass artwork — pendants, earrings, sun catchers (are those a thing?), treasure dishes, etc. — and I’m a repeat customer.
I purchased two of her creations this year: a pink dragon pendant (for me, a symbol of female strength) and an interesting pendant-necklace that the artist had handpicked for me.
“I really think you’ll like this one,” she said, approaching me. It featured a symbol representing the word truth on a radiant pink background.
“It’s perfect,” I said. “A, I just reconciled myself to the color pink recently, and B, I’ve just discovered a way to keep the bad side of my imagination in check. It’s like, on a routine basis, I’ll imagine something awful, or just unpleasant, happening, and I’ll waste soooooo much time on the idea,” I sighed. “But the other day, while I was right in the middle of one of these reverse-fantasies, a word hit me out of nowhere: Fiction.” I paused. “And right then, the reverie ended. I’ve been employing the power word ever since, and it’s working. It’s helping.”
It’s like the agnostic equivalent of saying get thee behind me Satan, I laughed to myself only.
I’m wearing both pendants today, and I intend on wearing them for a while. When you discover something new and you know that you need to really hold onto it, it’s good to keep little reminders close to you… sometimes, even hovering right above your heart.