Monday, July 27, 2009

Tears, Beer and Cheers

Bad news: Brother Qualia was hit by car and broke his back. He'll be out for a while. I'll let him tell you the details.


I'm not a big fan of somber blog posts. Especially after this weekend, I have enough sobriety in my life that I don't go online looking for something that will make me "Cry in My Beer," a song, apparently, by a band called Screeching Weasel whose poignant lyrics run thusly:

I know that you've been so bored
since the Circle K closed down
so if it makes you feel a bit better just picture me
crying crying in my beer

While I can identify with the unimaginable suffering caused by the loss of the Circle K, I can't imagine how the sight of a man crying in his beer could be comforting. Maybe you don't like the guy, but, hey, he's got a beer!

Then there's the Hank Williams, Jr. (he of "Are you ready for some football? All my rowdy friends are here..." fame) and his ditty, "Tear in my Beer," whose language is more straightforward (some might say infantile):

I'm gonna keep drinkin till I can't move a toe
And then maybe my heart won't hurt me so

Or perhaps until he can't feel the milking of his cyst (WARNING: not for the non-iron stomached).

While Hank takes the point of view of the suffering victim, Dropout Year speaks for the perp:

The only thing we have in common
Is letting our drinking problem get the best of the worst of us.
Sorry girl but I don't love you; breaking hearts is what I'm in to.
When we wake up we are through.

Drunken words are so convincing but so is the truth.
I'll never love you, but I'll still respect you.

The shared ground of drunkenness is not enough for the singer and his erstwhile wino-ette. Furthermore, the singer has a penchant for masochism ("breaking hearts is what I'm into").

That the singer is apparently passed out while singing the song ("When we wake up..."), explains quite a lot about the song. Namely, why it's awful. For instance, I think the line "drunken words are so convincing but so is the truth" should be carved in stone. Then that stone should be dropped upon Dropout Year repeatedly, and from a great height.

Thankfully, a great American master has written on the topic of tears and beers. Says Neil Diamond:

Yes my sweet, I came into that bar
It was in Mississippi
There you were, sitting in the corner
Crying in your pretzels
You'd already sogged up
A whole plate of potato chips
But the management didn't mind
Because you were a regular customer

Well, you were cryin' in your pretzels
Oh, you were cryin' in your beer
Yes, that was the night I met you
And I'll always hold you near.

The image of pretzels, twisted and turning, the salt of the earth on them mingling with the salt of the suffering lover, confirms Diamond's mastery as a craftsman of song. The imagery evokes all of America: from the Pennsylvania pretzel, to the Midwestern "whole plate of potato chips," to the fact that the events transpire in the South--particularly Mississippi, the mouth of that great river [of tears] and dividing point of the American dream, West and East--suggests that Diamond's consolations are directed at all of America and her sufferings.

Here's a songwriter fit to wrap in a glittery Stars 'n Stripes, who makes Toby Keith look like the Dixey Chicks of patriotism. Neil Diamond: Bard of Schmaltz.

After I'd been dropped at Lost River I sat up and tried to get my heart rate down. I started paying attention to the green hills and little farms along the route. It was beautiful. To be able to ride in a place like that was wonderful. To be racing at all was a weird sensation: knowing my brother was lying in bed, and yet enjoying being on a bike myself.

He got me into cycling three years ago, helped me find and buy a bike, set me up with the right gear. It was his passion that infected me. I'd probably be twenty pounds heavier, a lot wealthier, and somewhat saner if not for him.

When I got home from West Virginia I called my brother and told him about my race and dedicated my getting dropped to him. I said I'd be over that night. Then I grabbed a nice cold Hoegaarten, turned on the TV and watched the last five minutes of Ventoux, still in my bib shorts.

Then I hopped on my bike and rode out to Maryland.

Qualia visits my cactus cattle pen ("kraal" in Afrikaans) in South Africa

1 comment:

Drake said...

Sorry to hear about Big Bro. I hope he has a speedy recovery and can get back out here soon.