What is it about a cold beer in warm weather? Bliss after a long day. Something. People need to relax, unwind. There are CBD stores open in Minnesota now. One in St. Cloud, one in Maplewood. It doesn’t get you high, but it takes the edge off. Helps with sleep, anxiety.
Beer will do.
I’m sitting on the Bauhaus patio on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s 4:30pm. Maybe 5:00. Maybe later than that. My phone is sleeping somewhere at the bottom of my bag. I don’t wear a watch.
My friend Alpo was known for drinking early in the morning. He put liquor in his coffee, ordered a beer with lunch, went to happy hour, ended at… I look at the beer in my hand, golden yellow sweat dripping down the side and onto the cement of the patio, through a crack in the bench where my shoes are dusty from the street. The sun is still out, coming in thin shafts through slits in the overhang. They used to build fighter planes in this building. Overhead a string of small round lights will turn on when the sun goes down and add an ambiance that makes a second beer seem like a better idea than it did already.
Alpo meets me here. He sits down cloudy as is his usual disposition. He says to me, “How can you drink that?”
The overstated “Gemütlichkeit!” neon over the Bauhaus bar blinks carnivalesque yellow, blue, pink. Sending joy to high ceilings. Big glass windows reflect the sun. There’s a frenzy at the arcade games near the door I can see from where I’m sitting.
Robots couldn’t enjoy this. Gavin Kaysen, our award-winning celebrity chef behind the life-changing pastas at Spoon & Stable, is investing in an all-robot restaurant called Spyce. Robots making food? It’s just good business, they say. Take a sip from the glass. But they don’t have a palate or a soul and they’ll never enjoy a cold beer on a patio like this, notice the lights, buy a t-shirt to bring home. They’ll never appreciate what Bauhaus is or was in the first place.
I wipe my hand on my shirt. “How can I drink this beer?”
“There are so many better.” Alpo leans back, resting his elbows on the table. “You stick to drinking the cold yellow stuff like a German. Try something with a little body for once.”
“How about the Schwandtoberfest?”
“Is that their Oktoberfest?” Alpo shrugs. “It is that time of year.”
At some point the sun goes down, the shafts of light crossing across the tables outside turn red and disappear completely. The bulbs overhead blink on, add a glow to the patio that turns everyone into children. I order a second beer, maybe a third. Alpo buys a round. The bartenders smile. Sky-Five? Try the Slawhammer – the perfect beer for cool nights, for the first days of September. People laugh, shoulders hunched over DeathBall, curse when they lose, take another drink, play again. Dogs sleep beneath tables, their furry heads resting on cris-crossed paws. A male Bernese lifts its chin, yawns wide, eats a treat from his buzzing owner.
“The Schwandtoberfest is awesome.”
Patrick Swayze and Freddie Mercury wink at me from their perch over the taps and coolers. It smells like grain and hops. It’s getting late.
Alpo shakes his head. “I’m cutting back. I have responsibilities now.”
“I drink to enjoy it. Not just to get drunk.”
“And I enjoyed them here.”
He puts on his jacket. We walk past brick and paint, out onto Central Avenue, dodge cars to cross the street, walk down Broadway. He takes a left to his apartment near 13th Street. I step into a Lyft I don’t remember calling. At some point I’m home in bed, baby sleeping with slow/steady breath next to me, the moon coming in through the window in wisps from purple clouds, the bedsheets twisted around my thighs. My mouth tastes like beer. Tomorrow is another day.