7.7% ABV from a bomber
The Vice Blogger and the Alkie
What kind of cosmic practical joke is this? What sort of karmic retribution has become me? I now find myself living with a bonafide alcoholic fresh out of rehab.
Done laughing? Let me explain how this happened. My actual roommate–rather, the man I lease a room from–Brandon is…an interesting character. Actually, Brandon is his Christian name, he goes by his Indian yogi master-issued name currently. Professionally at least. I may write about him some other time, but dynamically we do get along swell. Mainly because we’re on vastly different schedules. I’m coming home from the night while he’s waking up on his wood board (seriously) bright and early to teach his first yoga class of the day. At home I’m a loner and so is he, both of us staying in our shut-door bedrooms, never bothering each other, even having the courtesy to only head to the bathroom when we’re sure the other one of us is safely tucked in his abode, therefore preventing any idle and uncomfortable chit-chat from occuring. We both like it this way.
Then, about a month ago, I came home drunk, late one night, and this man Steve was quietly sitting in my filthy, miniscule, and never-lived-in living room, just staring at the wall. Not sleeping. Not reading. Not eating. Not watching TV. Just sitting. A little weird, but I see weird a lot in my life. We shook hands, chatted for a sec, and I learned the basics. He was a friend/student of Brandon’s from yoga class. He inferred he’d only be staying a night or two. You know, like a normal houseguest. No big deal.
About a week later, I realized Steve was still living with us. No, I never saw him, I just noticed very basic things that meant he was still among us. A tussled blanket on the living room floor, a pair of shoes near the front door, and one of my towels had been taken out of the closet and used. None of this particularly bothered me as I was never seeing Steve and I’m a generous enough guy to let a stranger soil one of my towels.
Then, one early weekend morning as I slept off a hangover, a knock on my door. Brandon has never knocked on my bedroom door so I knew it must be the infamous Steve. I was still groggy as I opened the door with a terse “Yeah?”
“Hey man, can I borrow some money?”
At the early hour that didn’t seem like such an odd request. I explained I had none as I eschew paper loot in favor of plastic. Much neater. I did have a huge pile of change tossed carelessly onto my nightstand though, only quarters and some dimes as I throw most pennies and nickels away. They are stupid coins that just weigh down my pockets. I told Steve he could have the pile. In fact, it would be a favor to me as it would tidy up my nightstand and free up some space for more essential bedside items that you may wish to imagine about in your sick minds. Steve put his cupped hands slightly under the surface of my nightstand as I used my arm like a croupier uses a hook at the craps table in order to shovel the five to ten dollars U.S. toward him.
The next day, Steve asked to borrow my cell phone to make some calls and I complied. Fine, I realized, Steve is broke and kinda pathetic, perhaps lost his job, and Brandon is helping the guy out. That’s all. I’m a firm believer in you helping out your fellow man. And by “you,” I literally mean you. I don’t wish to help these down-and-out folks.
The next day, Steve asked to borrow my phone again. And he did so the next day and the next day and the next. And he began asking to borrow some cash every single day too. Now I was getting fucking annoyed as this squatter was living amongst me. Meanwhile, Brandon had skipped town back to his mother and father’s house in Delaware for an extended relaxation vacation from his job which is essentially based on relaxation.
Steve began acting erratic and weird, acting like he owned the joint. Every single morning I awoke to find our front door wide open. Sometimes Steve was in the apartment, often he wasn’t. Likewise, every single time I returned home, regardless of the hour, the fucking front door was ajar. Again, sometimes Steve was there, sometimes he wasn’t. Now I don’t exactly own the Hope Diamond and living on the absolute top and semi-deserted floor of our building we are pretty secluded, but I didn’t exactly like this behavior. It wasn’t safe. Only problem was, now I wasn’t seeing Steve for days despite the fact he was clearly still living with me, inexplicably using an entire bar of my soap every fucking time he showered. Luckily, he only seemed to shower once every four days or so. I’m one of those old timers still using bar soap. Irish Spring Sport to be exact, which I purchase in those bulk twelve-packs. How was this motherfucker using a bar a bath? I didn’t want to know. I began hiding my soap, towels, and computer in a little nook in my room.
One Saturday night, I returned home at like 5 AM. Of course, the front door was wide open but this time I found Steve inexplicably in the bathroom, the bright lights shining down on him as he lay on an afghan on the dirty floor, his feet touching the tub and his noggin mere inches from the less-than-spic-and-span bowl. He didn’t even appear to be trying to sleep.
Steve looked up at me as if this behavior was very much normal.
“Hey Aaron, can I borrow a few bucks?”
This was 5 AM recall, after I had spent a full day drinking beers and smoking cigars. I responded to his charity request quite kindly…
“Steve, could your move your fucking head? I need somewhere to stand while I take a piss.”
The next day, some three weeks after Steve began staying with us–I mean with me as I don’t believe Brandon has been in the apartment in weeks–I finally got a call from my AWOL roomie. He quickly began talking in a run-on sentence.
“Aaron I’m really so sorry he just got out of treatment and I wanted to help him out for a day or two but then he just started staying and he wouldn’t…”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa–BACK UP. ‘Treatment?’”
“Oh, he’s a big-time alcoholic and drug abuser. Just got out of Pederson-Krag the day before he moved in with us.”
I could not believe I had been living with an alkie–that wasn’t the little Aaron devil that sometimes resides on my right shoulder–for nearly a month. While still on the phone I sprinted to the fridge, grabbing about $50 worth of trappist beer and some American strong ales I had recently stocked up on. I transported them back to my room where I hugged the cold bottles like teddy bears, softly telling them, “The big, bad drunkard ain’t never gonna steal you guys away from me!”
I’m so pissed. At Brandon and at the alkie. I sit quietly in my dim room right now writing and drinking a Stone Ruination IPA, perhaps appropriately named as my life is more ruined, seemingly in more shambles, than the Parthenon. In all seriousness, Stone named the beer Ruination because they (only partially jokingly) claim it will RUIN your palate it’s so damn hoppy. Stone claims it make foods bland and makes lesser beers undrinkable. They’re probably right as it packs a whopping 100plus IBUs. IBU stands for International Bitterness Units and is the measure of how hoppy, how “extreme,” a beer is. Usually on a zero to 100 scale. Your typical macros would probably check in at under 40 IBUs or so, while IPAs and barley wines soar toward 100 if not higher, though higher than 100 is often a gimmicky if not miscalculated number. It’s not gimmicky in Ruination’s case though. Predictably, I love high IBU beers.
I use a vanilla scented Glade candle to mask the intense hop smell of this beer. I don’t want Steve busting into my room like a crazed dipsomaniacal zombie, ripping the bomber out of my hands for a violent chug then sticking his tongue down my throat to taste any more lingering hints of alcohol. Actually, Steve is so freaking skinny I don’t think he could hurt me and steal my beer even if he wanted too. He’s so frail he must not be eating. Shit, maybe I should lend him money.
Everything the Stone IPA just gets a little wrong, a little “off,” Ruination NAILS. More flavorful, more complex, better hops. Delicious. Bursting with hops, pine, and citrus. Full-bodied and incredibly bold with some good spiciness. A surprisingly clean finish though. Looms in your mouth well afterward making you feel like you won’t need to take a second sip for minutes as the taste just doesn’t leave your tongue.
Gets better the more you drink it. And, yes, it really does ruin your palate and make other beers seem worthless by comparison. It is top notch. One of the best double IPAs on the planet*.
It has also now gotten me quite loaded. And as my grandpa used to say, my back teeth are floating. I gotta piss like a Secretariat.
Great. But I can’t go out there. I can’t chance walking outside of my safe womb of a bedroom and running into Steve. This is my fucking life. People in New York spend every second they are outside and on the street trying to avoid beggars. Forced to ignore them, turn the other cheek, act like they are not humans, just to avoid giving these hobos a nickel**. Now, every single time I exit my bedroom I am immediately confronted, bombarded, by the same thing — a fucking panhandler in my own fucking house.
What a joke. I wish there was an animal control for humans. I’d call them on Steve right now.
*Speaking of DIPAs and getting back to this week’s Hop Rod Rye post. Again, how is the 8% Hop Rod a single IPA, while the 7.7% Ruination a double?! They are both clearly doubles!
**And, yes, I realize the delicious irony of mentioning how I hate the homeless and refuse to give them money when just a few paragraphs earlier I discussed how I hate pennies and nickels so much that I just throw them away. I’m going to hell.