Sunday, June 26, 2022

I’ll Drink to COVID - the Pandemic Beck'sts


I feel like we’re finally far enough along in our nationwide recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that we can start reflecting on it instead of just reacting to it. Of course the virus is still raging, and morphing, but hospitals haven’t been overwhelmed in a long time, and most of us are out and about in the world again. Throughout the ordeal, I drank a lot of beer and sent a lot of Beck’sts, but it seemed “too soon,” until now, to blog about it. I think now it’s finally okay to look back and that strange, shut-in, deeply isolated period, through the lens of what beers my friends and I were drinking, in what environments, and how we attempted to safely share that experience.

(What? You haven’t heard of Beck’sting? What rock have you been sheltering-in-place under? Get thee to a brewery! Or, click here.)

Note: as with previous posts about Beck’sts, I’ve grouped these thematically. I’ve included captions and commentary, and the initials of the Beck’ster. Where you see one letter only (e.g., “E—”) that’s generally somebody’s spouse. These are arranged chronologically, oldest at the top, spanning the period from late March through late July, 2020.

Newbie Beck’st

JH: Aaaahhh. [This was a Beck’st snapped during our first Virtual Pub Night (VPN) the previous week.]

MC: Nice one! Let’s do another session very soon!

JH: Agree. I’m free every night forever.

DA: JH, I think that’s your very first Beck’st, innit? And it’s a great one ... interesting beer, we get to see the color, it’s good lighting, and the Clorox wipe for context. A solid debut! As for our next VPN, I’d be up for tonight! I don’t have a lot of variety in the beer department but I just stocked the fridge so quantity-wise I can totally outlast this coronavirus... Should we do Hangouts or does someone have a Zoom?

JH: I’ll set up a Zoom. Otherwise my carefully selected wallpapers will go to waste.

Temperance Beck’st

DA: Since I did Virtual Pub Night (VPN) last night I figured I better go easy on the booze tonight, so E— and I are splitting this watery lager. (As watery lagers go, Stella is hard to beat.) DW, please pardon the unsightly stemware ... these little etched glasses, which we got from somebody’s driveway “FREE” box, are the perfect size for this. It’s weird going for walks because Albany is like a ghost town, and shelter-in-place seems to be awakening people to how overcrowded their homes are with stuff, because every other driveway seems to have a box of unwanted treasures. It’s like a garage sale except nobody wants any money.

JL: I went alcohol-free for eight weeks [to lose weight for cycling] but couldn’t take it anymore about two weeks ago when things started to get “real” with the ‘Rona. But even without any pandemic anxiety, I can’t imagine ever drinking just half a Stella and being satisfied! I admire your fortitude in these uncertain times…

Shelter-in-place Beck’st

DA: It’s tempting to complain about being stuck at home and about work being overly busy, but then I think of Dr. S manning up and caring for the sick and I stop myself. Nevertheless I do turn to beer in these trying times, such as this very good Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA. Would you fellers be up for a Virtual Pub Night (VPN) soon, maybe Friday? PCS, can you make that work?

DW: I’d be down for that sometime. I have a standing “Book Club” @ 4pm on Fridays with my [school] staff via Webex and I think we have another one with some friends going this Saturday. Geesh...sounds like we drink a lot. This pilsner from Terminal Gravity is outstanding. Tiny little brewery in Enterprise, Oregon, which is pretty much far away from everything.

DW (continued): Looking forward to it - now on to my day of public school Distance Learning administration!

Tall, fluty Beck’st

DA: DW, where do you come down on the question of tall, narrow beer glasses? Are such fluty vessels as offensive as stemware? Frankly, l like how full this is from a mere 12-oz bottle. The empty space at the top of a pint glass always irritates me. Anyway, this Racer 5 is really taking the edge off my shelter-in-place.

DA (continued): In other news, JL, I took the liberty of including your full name in my latest blog post. I hope that’s okay. You’re famous now! In other news, how does Saturday night work for a VPN?

JL: Aw yeah, more free press for me! That public relations firm I hired is really earning their keep! Are you charging them pay-per-click or something? I can’t wait to parlay this notoriety into a popular podcast — maybe something like, Homeschooling for Dummies! Or, How to Gain 15 Pounds and Keep it On! Or, Takes One To Know One: A Podcast About Bipedal Hominids! I’ll make a million. Oh, and yeah, I’d be up for a VPN on Saturday.

Cooped-up, stir-crazy Beck’st

DA: After a couple weeks of grey and cold we got some lovely weather today. When’s our next VPN!?

BA: I’m sorry I missed the last VPN! I didn’t open my email in time, you know, what with the virus and all. Let me know about when the next one is and I’ll try to get over to the store to buy some beers. I’ve been out of beer for a week now … I haven’t been in a store since I hear they put face shields up for the clerks, so that we can’t cough on them as easily. I don’t get out much...

DA: PCS, since you’re the one out there saving lives and can’t work from home, why don’t you suggest a few times? I’ll text BA this time since he clearly can’t stay on top of his email. Maybe he’s trying to be cool like our teenage children...

DW: I’m going to bring some serious, that is Orygun, IPA to the next VPN. No more of this Pilsner nonsense. Boneyard RPMs are available in cans now. Just happened. So there’s that.

DA: OMG, Boneyard RPM ... I love that beer! Alas, E— has us on this crazy pandemic lockdown where we can only shop like every two weeks, so my beer variety is almost nil. Not that we can get Boneyard here anyway…

Free Beck’st

DA: So, we haven’t had restaurant food since March 15 when we picked up Alexa from college for the lockdown. E— just isn’t comfortable. So I said what if we get a slightly underdone Zach’s pizza and put it in our oven for a while? She’s fine with that so I ordered it uncut so it wouldn’t slop over on the pizza stone. But when I went to pick it up, they’d screwed up and cut it. So they had to make me a whole new pizza, meaning I had to hang around for over half an hour, risking my life in their (albeit entirely deserted) restaurant. In recompense they offered me a free beer so I picked this giant Racer 5!

DA (continued): So, it turns out E— wants to bake the crap out of this pizza, long past the agreed upon five minutes. With the delay I already incurred, the family will be eating without me at this point, since I have virtual book club, but at least I have plenty of good beer to drown my sorrows in. Family and pizza (especially overcooked pizza) are overrated ... am I right?

PCS: Look at that MASSIVE brew, how many ounces are in that? Damn, no sorrow for you. So, was the pizza good or no??

DA: 22 ounces, baybee! The pizza was delish. I’m not sure it was worth the hassle but I’m sure my kids were stoked and that their stokage was unalloyed. Maybe they’ll look kindly on me one day.

JL: That beer looks epic! We’ve been getting restaurant food delivered about once a week. We usually stick it in the oven for a few minutes once it gets here, but none of us are convinced it’s doing anything... it’s just a matter of how much risk is acceptable and from whence that risk comes!

Dura-Ace Beck’st

DA: Do I look like I’m f***ing around?! (Hint: I am not. Not with this Double IPA, and not with my new Dura-Ace wheels...)

JL: That’s a nice looking Beck’st. I counter it with this not f***ing around Beck’st. Nothing in my photo is in focus because I’m already drunk — with power!

Anger management Beck’st

DA: If the anger is not too pronounced, beer can actually help. So what am I angry about? Two things: 1) the sad fact that this beer, the highlight of my day after ten hours of teleworking, will soon be gone; 2) the lack of Beck’sts I have lately received (or, more to the point, not received); 3) the dearth of VPNs lately; and 4) my evident inability to predict how many items will be included in my lists. You bitches are on the hook for items 2 and 3. I have taken care of item 1. Item 4 is hopeless. Item 5 is pending. So how about a 5pm PDT VPN on Sunday, 5/24!? DO IT DO IT DO IT DO IT. RSVP ASAP.

PCS: Angry white man....BAM!

DW: I could potentially make a Sunday PM VPN. However, I have a Herd Immunity Get-Together at a pub at 4pm with my anti-vaxxer group. Those tend to go on for while… Also, I will only attend the VPN if we can dedicate some portion of the discussion to my wheel dilemma, without bringing up the fact that they are not Dura-Ace.

JL: Yeah, 6 pm PDT works for me. And I am happy to discuss at this VPN all subjects, as long as they are about Dura Ace wheels or wheels that are not Dura-Ace (but secretly wish they were Dura-Ace).

Broken hero Beck’st

DA: I bought this Kick-Ass fieldwork IPA crowler for our VPN that never happened. Since these crowlers have a shelf life, and I’m not allowed to drink until late next week at the earliest (due to my upcoming surgery), I have to give this away to a nearby friend. Alas, ye broken hero, I never got to drink ya...

DW: Alas...what the heck happened? Are you OK? Are you having surgery because of a bike accident? Not sure I can wait for our next VPN.

JL: Yeah, what DW said — what’s up? Upcoming surgery?? This was not discussed during the Dura-Ace wheel VPN.

DA: Dudes, here is what I had originally written about it before I decided to get an x-ray.

I’m resorting to this fallible voice recognition software instead of just typing, since I can’t type right now. That’s because I took a little spill on my bike the other day. I was descending after a bit of rain, but it had rained all night so the oil should have been rinsed off the road, but I came around a curve and my tires slid right out. I got up and got off the road and was putting my chain back on, and another guy came around the curve and stacked exactly as I had, and then a few seconds later a third guy came through, and he hit the tarmac exactly as we did, as though we had all rehearsed this together beforehand. Another guy came riding back up the road who had come through right behind me and almost crashed. He said his tires were sliding all over the place. The road was slicker than snot as they say, really almost like a bunch of soap or oil. So it was just kind of a freak thing, maybe something spilled in the road, I don’t know. I’ve done that descent many hundreds of times and my line was perfect. Anyway, my hand is all scraped up and swollen so I can’t really type, and I think I cracked some ribs because it hurts to breathe, and my shoulder seems pretty wrecked up. But, I was able to ride home, and I don’t think I’ll need to go to the ER or anything, which is good because they’re pretty packed lately, because of all the riots and so forth. Well, I suppose they’re pretty packed, I’m actually just guessing, but I don’t imagine I want to take valuable medical resources away from the agitators and so on.

Update: I went to Urgent Care for an X-ray and my collarbone turns out to be broke as f***. So I have a surgery scheduled on Tuesday. Happy happy joy joy.

DW: Damn, DanaDrive! No way that shoulder is going to grow back together. You’ll finally be riding some titanium with that break! Sorry that happened. What a bummer. The Fieldwork would be pretty handy at the moment.

DA: I donated the beer to JH and he Beck’sted it. Looks delish, eh? <sniff>

JL (a few days later): This is such a bummer of a story. Not the broken bone — the giving away of perfectly good beer! But seriously, the surgery should have happened by now … how did it go? I could VPN tonight I think.

DA: It apparently went well. I am typing with just one thumb which is really tedious so I am going to paste in a big block of recycled text now, which I’d dictated to my phone:

I have the sling that seems like it was made in shop class by a junior High kid, combining his father’s sling with a shoebox. The shoe Box presses against my belly making me feel like the Buddha, if the Buddha were an obsessed consumerist American who loves to carry around a box of treasures, if only his shoe box had a lid. I had a nerve block in my arm, which makes it feel like I fell asleep on it so my hand is all tingly, but instead of whacking the hand to wake it up because that’s annoying, I’m just leaving it because the tingling, as it spreads up my shoulder, will gradually be replaced with pain. I think it is going to be a very boring 6 weeks, followed by some very boring physical therapy, but I guess we were all destined to be bored anyway now that our library DVDs are all spent, and we realize that Netflix and Kanopy and Hoopla and YouTube are still all tools of man, and man is essentially boring. But I’ll take boring over zombie apocalypse, in the final analysis, though the way things are going I guess I wouldn’t be all that surprised if a zombie apocalypse did come to pass. I guess the silver lining there would be that all of their staggering around and flesh eating would be diverting.

I can give you more detail if we ever get the next VPN pinned down. That’s right, I’m off the pain meds and can have booze again! BA, are you back from your road trip yet?

BA: I am indeed back from the road trip and [our late] Dad’s teardrop camper trailer [which BA inherited] is now parked in front of the house. I don’t believe I contracted COVID-19 along the way, only time will tell on that (or not, depending, I guess). I had to figure out why T—’s van (a newer and shorter version of our 15 passenger van) wouldn’t drive the running lights on the trailer, and I managed that. I ended up pulling a relay from the fuse box in the engine room and installing a jumper instead, and lo and behold, it worked. It’s kind of surreal seeing the trailer there, like I expect to see Dad cooking out of the back of it when I look out. I don’t even know what to do with the thing, I don’t even have a vehicle that can tow a trailer.

DA: So BA, I’m glad your road trip went well and the teardrop came through okay. I’m quite impressed that you thought to pull a relay from the fuse box and replace it with a jumper to get the taillights working … that’s an ingenious trick the likes of which English majors don’t generally learn until grad school (though we did mess around a bit with jumpers during my honors post-modernism seminar). So here’s what to do with the trailer: you need to start a celebrity blog/vlog called “Teardrop Life” or something and drive around to scenic places in the US taking glamorous photos and shooting tantalizing video footage. You and J— are getting pretty old, so to stay “current” and “vital” you’ll need to attract a steady stream of groupies to help “fill the frame.” I think you still have the star power to make good money with that. Just be sure to wear your masks around those groupies. Don’t worry, the masks add an air of mystery and emphasize your eyes, one of your strong points. Well, two of them I guess, technically.

Controversial Beck’st

DA: Just because.

PCS: it legit to Beck’st Heineken?

DA: Oh, so since you’re a big fancy doctor, you’re too good for Heineken?

PCS: I just don’t know why you would Beck’st a bottle of water! But please, feel free to send pictures of the next LaCroix you’re having. I know you love those.

DA: Now you look here, Mr. Big Shot, if I happen to like my water to have a golden glow to it, and its green bottle to cast a lovely green shadow, and if I’m secure enough in my masculinity to admit I like flowers, and nice arrangements, I think maybe you should just honor that and remember that some of us have feelings, and we don’t need to be pushed around by the big Associate Professor of Medicine with the American car, the big bully who always took the top spot on the podium. Sometimes our wives try to tease out our sensitive side by refusing to buy the IPAs we like, and so tonight it was either this Heineken or another 11.2 ounce 4.2% ABV Spanish thing. Oh, sure, you can stand in judgment, all high and mighty with your Deschutes Juicy Haze IPAs and your dual suspension mountain bike. Just kick a man when he’s down, would you? All injured and everything? Really? Does that make you feel powerful? I have to go. I think I’m starting to cry.

JL: I’m torn here. Because on the one hand I agree with PCS (as an aside, I decided against “Beck’st’ing” my white wine spritzer with a lime garnish tonight because I thought it was similarly against the rules). But on the other hand, denying a guy his Beck’st — especially when he’s injured and hurting [we assume] — seems cruel. In the end, however, I think this is a fair Beck’st, if only for the cute flower arrangement and the lovely table cloth, both of which (along with the dappled sunlight) evoke the ineffable redolence of a quaint European café — the sort of place where when you ordered, “une biere, s’il vous plait?”, they would bring you this pathetic ersatz ale, while sneering at you with that European contempt and superiority that only sweaty men from the continent, with their crisp white shirts and their glossy black hair, can muster. And even though the beer is lame and the service is perfunctory at best, it is served very cold (as evidenced by the drops of condensation languidly forming rivulets descending the emerald glass) and it is, at that moment, the best thing that you have ever tasted.


Did you notice that the last Beck’st in this chronological sequence made no reference to the pandemic? No inquiry about the next VPN? This was during that honeymoon period, post-vaccine but pre-Delta-variant. Alas, as we all know, that taste of unsheltered freedom was too good to last, so watch these pages for another post about Beck’sting through the pandemic…

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