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Archive for the ‘Style: Winter Warmer’ Category

Michelob Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale

January 18th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 6 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Anheuser-Busch, Country: America, Grade: F regular, Style: Winter Warmer

6% ABV on tap (not cask!)

I’d seen the interesting snowman tap popping up in a lot of bars in the city.  And “normal” bars too, bars whose “best” beer is shit like Stella, so I was kinda intrigued.  It was labeled simply “Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale,” no brewery mentioned, piquing my interest even more.  It seemed Wallace Shawn inconceivable to me that all these bars were now serving a jen-you-wine bourbon barrel-aged beer.  I did some further research.  It’s a Michelob product.  Ah…makes more sense.  Nevertheless, I had to admire their gumption in actually attempting such a seemingly interesting beer.

The other night I yet again saw this beer on tap and finally got a chance to try it.  The beer poured quite dark, could this be a legitimate boozy stout?  My friend took the first sip while I paid.

“Tastes like a Heath bar.”

He nailed it.  It tasted exactly like liquidized Heath bar.  The funny thing is, I love Heath bar.  It’s arguably the best candy bar around and it is certainly the best candy bar to be used in McFlurry/Blizzard-type candy ice cream treats.  But, as the most prominent taste of a beer, it was heinous.

This beer also had very medicinal, dental, flouride-type flavors in it.  Disgusting.  So artificial tasting, so terrible.  Absolutely zero tastes of bourbon, zero tastes of any sort of complex aging, and this is clearly not a “cask” beer no matter how you want to define cask, even by its most loose definitions.

The gall of Michelob to claim they are making something so ambitious when this is just more assembly line bullshit shrouded by a well-conceived marketing campaign.  Have some courage to actually make what you are claiming or don’t attempt to make it at all.  I really think beer companies should be fined for such blatant duplicity*.  I would really like Michelob to prove to me that this beer was casked for even a single fucking day.  I’m guessing the only bourbon involved in the creation of this beer was in the glass of the Anheuser-Busch CEO as he drank and laughed his ass off at yet another semi-successful attempt at duping the public.

If I wasn’t paying Manhattan pint prices I would have walked into the bathroom and dumped this down the urinal after just a few sips.  Oddly enough, my friend loved this beer and drank pints of it all night.  He did make a valid point in noting how one never sees a macro beer with such a high ABV.  Having said that, my friend also wasn’t able to go out Saturday night because he had one of the most wicked hangovers of his life.  Being that he didn’t even drink that heavily, all there is to blame is this terrible artificial brew and all the sugar in it which quite clearly infected his brain.

Avoid at all costs.  Winter’s Bourbon Cask Ale will almost certainly make my worst beers of 2009 list.


*I’m as laissez-faire as they come when it comes to government intervention.  Nothing chaps my hide more than grandstanding, sanctimonious, hypocritical congressmen trying to nose their “voice” into all parts of American life (to wit:  steroids in baseball, the BCS, etc.)  But I would completely support them in bringing the major macro brewers in for a hearing to bust them for their egregious taste crimes against humanity.

Stone/Jolly Pumpkin/Nøgne Ø Special Holiday Ale

January 8th, 2009 by Aaron Goldfarb | 4 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Jolly Pumpkin, Brewer: Nøgne Ø, Brewer: Stone, Country: America, Country: Norway, Grade: A-/B+, Style: Winter Warmer

9% ABV bottled

Argue with me if you must, and I roundly encourage it, but Queens is clearly New York’s most fucked up borough.* And, by “fucked up,” I mean it’s the borough where you are most likely to encounter some crazy “Am I in a movie?” “Did I just see that?!” oh-I-wish-I-had-my-camera-on-me bullshit. Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is a good thing. You may not, however.

Last time I was in Queens was a month or so ago. A girl had just ejected me from her apartment at 5:00 AM and I was drunk, banged-up, stuck in the middle of nowhere, and had no clue how to get back to Manhattan. After ten minutes of stumbling around looking for a cab, my savior arrived. A gypsy limousine. Literally I suppose.  The Egyptian driver rolled down his window and all but ordered me: “Get in. Front seat.”

A weird request if you’re sober, but not when you’re drunk and lost. I sat down, “What a night, have I got a story for you,” I lamented. The driver interjected, “No, brother, have I got a story for you.” As we drove back toward Manhattan he lit up a joint which we passed back and worth while he spun the tale of his previous passenger. Seems he was chauffeuring around a married couple having a night on the town. Midway through the evening, the husband told the wife he wanted a divorce, they argued, he hopped out of the limo, and hailed another cab.

So, of course, she did the only natural thing one would do in that situation…she told the driver to pull over so she could fuck him as an act of revenge toward her husband. “Happens all the time,” he lasciviously smiled at me.

By the time we had crossed the 59th Street Bridge, the joint was finished. “How ’bout another?” said my new friend. I nodded. So, of course, he did the only natural thing and pulled off to the side of the 2nd Avenue where he proceeded to roll another doobie and soon we were again feelin’ groovy. Finally, dropping me off back at my apartment, my spirits were buoyed. So were his. “This ride’s on me, partner,” he winked as he drove away.

Most Manhattanites are snobs that refuse to ever leave our borough. I’m a snob, but I’m always willing to leave the borough, especially if adventure is promised. And, I rarely turn down an offer from my friends in Queens because in that borough depravity is all but guaranteed.  So much so that I can’t visit it too often less my already suspect morals get even more corroded.

It was Saturday afternoon and I was bored. It was cold out and I had no plans. I had no personal initiative either.  Thus, beer was in order.  Carpe diem?  Fuck that.  That’s why alcohol is so awesome.  It helps you seize the day.  It helps you come up with plans.  It is nothing if not “decisiveness juice.”**

I went with a bottle of the semi-rare winter special collaboration from master breweries Stone, Jolly Pumpkin, and Norway’s Nøgne Ø. It’s been my favorite winter beer this year and it is surely one of the most unique “warmers” I’ve ever had. Tastes of ginger, juniper (making it have some gin-like qualities, nice!), chestnuts (never heard of that in a beer before!), white sage, and caraway. Spicy, delicious, and goes down easy. Perfect for a cold night.

Around 7:00 I got a text from Stanton:  “come to queens im trying to hit rock bottom tonight.”

I thought he was joking.  Maybe not.  But whatever the case, it sounded like a plan.  “carpe diem” I texted back.

I put on my most disposable clothing, stuff I’d wear when painting a house, helping a friend move.  I could tell this evening had the potential to be “one of those nights.”  I own so little decent clothes, I couldn’t afford to ruin or lose the few decent pieces in my closet.

Queens is a quicker jaunt than people think.  I can get there far speedier–from Hell’s Kitchen–than I can get to Brooklyn, Hoboken, Jersey City, or even the Upper East Side.  Has any one ever done a “currency exchange rate” between the boroughs?  If not, it should be calculated.  Now, Queens isn’t exactly Oklahoma City vis-a-vis Manhattan but it’s significantly cheaper than it is in Manhattan.  Getting off the N train stop in Astoria–site of another legendarily fucked up Queens adventure–I found a craft beer store cum deli cum Indian adult video shop.  I was impressed with the selection, and amused when I had to wake up the shop owner who had fallen asleep watching a humiliation porn DVD at full volume so that I could purchase a sixer of Hop Devil for a mere $9.99.

Getting to Stanton’s apartment, I realized he had begun “Operation: Rock Bottom” without me.  He was already quite toasted, ten beers deep.  We aggressively dove into the Hop Devil as Stanton made me watch some “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” season four episodes, yet again trying to convince me of the greatness of the FX comedy.  Look, I know it’s considered sacrilege in many circles, but I just don’t think the show is as funny as everyone claims.  I watched all of season one and most of season two and, while I found it decent and semi-amusing, I didn’t think it was as iconoclastic as people so claim and it usually only gave me a medium-sized chuckle or two.  Eventually, my DVR started stacking up with unwatched episodes and soon I quit the program altogether.  Trying to prove the show’s worth, Stanton played me his favorite episodes from the most recent season, but again, I simply didn’t see any greatness.***

After the sixer was polished off, we went to watch my friend’s band at a legit Queens Irish pub.  Irish pubs in Queens are quite different from how they are in Manhattan.  It’s not something I can put into words, just a certain je ne sais quois, a visceral sensation.  There is both less and more happiness among the denizens.  There’s both more normalcy–like you’re just drinking in some one’s living room–and less–like you’re in some major sin den–it’s quite paradoxical.  There, after countless beers and Jameson shots we came to realize something:  it was literally impossible for the two of us to ever hit rock bottom.

You see, we may be drunkards, perhaps even borderline, semantic “alcoholics,” but we will never screw up our lives.  At least completely.  In totality.  We’re smart enough, savvy enough, seasoned enough, and wise enough to be full-blown tipplers and still maintain jobs, incomes, solid health, and relationships.  Yeah, we’ll get in mild trouble every so often, ruin entire Sundays sleeping it off, perhaps even miss a day or two of work, occasional offend those around us, send a dumb drunken e-mail or two, maybe even tarnish a friendship for a day or two, perhaps even get in trouble with an “authority” figure out two, but nothing large scale.  You could say this behavior is why we don’t have wives, children, mortgages, even pets.  But has it ever occured to you that we intentionally don’t have those things because we don’t want to bring any others into our selfish and decadent morasses?

It was both an enlightening eureka! moment and a bit of a depressing discovery.  What to do when you realize you can never hit rock bottom?  That you only have “warning track power” in the ruin-your-life game?  Did Chuck Yeager feel this way before he punched through the clouds and hit Mach 1?

Thus, we had no choice but to cancel “Operation:  Rock Bottom.”  Now what to do?  A shitcanned Stanton told me he knew of a Mexican dance club nearby, The Black Donkey.  Hot Latino women galore.  Only problem is, no gringos allowed.  “Operation:  Desert Shield” became “Operation: Desert Storm” and “Operation: Rock Bottom” became “Operation: Gringo Infiltration.”

I’m a swarthy Jew which makes it somewhat tough to completely pin down my ethnicity.  I’ve been thought to be Italian, Israeli, Middle Eastern, Greek, even black (!), and from countless Latino countries of origin.  Aside from my near six-foot height and liberal use of Yiddish argot, I could easily be confused for a Chicano. I wish I had a funny story about the infiltration of the club.  Something that involved me standing on Stanton’s shoulders and using a huge trench coat ala Alvin, Simon, and Theodore to sneak into the club.  Nope, we just ducked our heads down and threw out a quiet “hola” as we breezed by the bouncer and then passed through the metal detectors.  Aye carumba!  Unlike Plaxico, I typically have a rule about entering drinking establishments that see a need for friskings, but, when in Queens…

While Stanton got a bucket of the only beer available, I began ogling the women.  Good lord!  The club was like 70% female and all the girls were like Latino models.  Hour glass figures with huge asses and fake breasts oozing from their leather tops.  Why…if I didn’t know better…

“Stanton, is this…a strip club?”

“Not exactly.”

Here was the deal, the bar was neither a strip club nor a brothel and there was no nudity whatsoever, but it was a “pay-to-dance” club.  As in, ten bucks to simply dance–grind that is–with the hot women.  Absurd!  I loathe strip clubs, detest lap dances, and have no use for prostitutes, and now I’m going to pay to dance with a strange woman?  I don’t even like dancing with women I love!

Stanton was wasted though and has a Latino fetish of a sort, and is actually a semi-accomplished drunken hoofer, so he perused the line-up of chicks to find one to dance with.  Humorously, he was shot down by all of them.  “Gringo too wasted,” they all muttered.  We sat down at a dance floor side table to drink and begin surveying the scene for some further hijinks.

The next dance begun and all the minuscule Mexican men began to drag their purchased women to the parquet.  And then, I saw one of the strangest sites I’ve ever seen in my life.  I wish I’d had my camera on me, I wish the club wasn’t so dark that my cameraphone was rendered useless, because what I saw cannot be done justice in words, it was so fucking unbelievable.

The dozen or so men lined up hip to hip to hip to hip, etc. on the back wall as if pissing at a sports stadium urinal trough.  But, instead of relieving themselves, their $10 women got between them and the exposed bricks and they all began to grind on the women’s asses.  With authority.  My jaw was so far to the ground, I was so amused, that I didn’t notice Stanton methodically removing each Corona from the beer bucket.  I could not remove my eyes from the scene.

“How hard up are these dudes?  Paying money just to grind on a hot woman?  Seriously?  How long do they get?”

I turned to Stanton just as he put the beer bucket to his face and ferociously threw up into the melting ice.

Pulling his mug back up he smiled, he must have felt great, like a new man, a Phoenix coming out of the drunken ashes.  He answered my pre-barf question in the most matter-of-fact way.

“Well, they get to grind until they come, of course.”

Now it was my turn to barf.

“We better get out of here, Aaron.  Last time I came I got 86ed and we’re on the verge of that now.”

As we stood I noticed several men peeling off the grind wall, each Chino with a most indiscreet speckle of crotch wetness on their chinos.

I awoke the next day on Stanton’s couch, still fully dressed from the night before, my wallet and cell phone even in my jeans pockets.

Looking and acting like one hundred million pennies, Stanton informed me that it was now time for “Operation: Find a Wii.”  He planned to spend Sunday driving all around Queens and Long Island, hitting up Best Buys and gaming stores until he found the coveted video game system.  It sounded like more adventure was in store, but, unfortunately, I had a lunch date so I had to leave my pal.

The next morning, I received an e-mail from Stanton:

Played some awesome Tiger Woods Golf last night on our new Wii. The guy we bought from was such a characture (sic) of what you would think someone in Queens who sells hot Wiis would look like. Met him in the back of a Steak House called Charlie Brown’s. He claimed he’s in the Adult Entertainment industry and if we ever needed any Blu-ray DVDs he could hook us up. He then gave me his card. His name is Lou Bricate. Get it? Lubricate? You have to see this guy’s business card. I had a hard time keeping a straight face when he was talking to us.

Queens is so fucked up.


*My anecdotal rankings:

1. Queens
2. Staten Island
3. The Bronx
4. Manhattan
5. Brooklyn

**For that matter…alcohol is also bad idea punch, intellect intoxicant, insolence nectar, fighting fluid, boastfulness booze, smartass sauce, injury water, agressiveness aqua vitae, felony-committin’ firewater, and–of course–maybe above all else…depression drink.

***The greatest comedies of the past, let’s say, five years would be, in order:  “Arrested Development,” “Extras,” “The Office” (British), “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “30 Rock,” and “The Office” (U.S.)

A Cornucopia of Christmas Beers

December 15th, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | No Comments | Filed in Brewer: Abita, Brewer: Blue Point, Brewer: Coors, Brewer: Sierra Nevada, Country: America, Grade: A-, Grade: B-, Grade: C plus, Grade: C-, Style: Belgian Pale Ale, Style: Brown Ale, Style: IPA, Style: Winter Warmer

Feeling a little bit frisky on Saturday afternoon, I decided to buy every single Christmas/winter seasonal beer I had yet to have from the local supermarket and prebar with a cornucopia of the typically-spiced brews.

Blue Moon Full Moon

5.6% ABV

It is well-known how much I really kinda detest Blue Moon–Coors’ hush-hush attempt at trying to make microbrews–thinking it everything wrong with beer. Meant to be “good,” but in reality just mass-produced stuff that chickens out and appeals to no one. Too lame for real beer geeks, too non-watered down for novice drinkers. Though a lot of girls seem to like it if plenty of orange slices are added. I don’t know why I thought Full Moon would be better. The label actually almost convinced me with its claim to be an “abbey ale brewed with a hint of dark Belgian sugar.” Boy, the gall! I realized almost immediately what a con artist this bottle was. Well, not immediately. The first thing I realized was–beer snob alert!–this has to be one of the first twist-top bottles I’ve had in months. Kinda nice actually, I can never find my bottle opener and always need the Nigerian kid next door to bite my caps off. The second thing I noticed was that Full Moon poured quite dark, like a legit dubbel or something, whatdayaknow? Surely one of the darker American macros I’ve ever seen. The taste is all wrong though. Blue Moon again acts cowardly by ostensibly starting off with good intentions but by then pulling punches to try and appeal to the masses. What this actually tastes like is a decent dubbel that has been mixed with 50% tap water. Imagine that.


Abita Christmas Ale 2008

Unknown ABV (seriously Abita, list your fucking ABV, it’s like the only stat we all care about!)

Abita is another brewery that really rubs me the wrong way. Oh, how many times I’ve bought one of their beers, one of their countless new releases, thinking, “Hmmmm…that sounds interesting, that sounds good.” It never is. Abita is surely one of the shittiest prominent craft breweries in America. Nice labels, but everything they make is mediocre at best to absolute dreck at worst. Don’t tell that to a Louisianan though! Yet again, Abita tricked me here with their slick hologram-esque, unphotographable label*. This beer was just garbage. Not bad-tasting or anything, just not-tasting. Called a brown ale, it did indeed look that way, but tastes of absolute water. If the World Beer Championships ever held a contest to see who could make the darkest colored beer with no flavor, I think we might have our winner here. You fooled me yet again, Abita. What’s the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for like the forty-fifth time, Abita, and…yeah, I’ll probably still take a whirl on your next shitty seasonal selection.”  Got anything in the works for Valentine’s Day?  Perhaps a beer steeped with those chalky little candy hearts?!


Blue Point Winter Ale

4.5% ABV

With all these shitty Christmas beers, I was starting to be happy to be a dirty Jew. Also because I don’t have to hang out with people I hate on December 25th, I can just go to the movies, eat steak, get wasted, and hang with sexy Jewesses (no, that’s not an oxymoron you antisemite). Blue Point, unlike Blue Moon and Abita, is a brewery that I have actually found to have made some respectable stuff in the past. No masterpieces or anything, but alotta solid efforts. Here is another one. Good hops and seasonal spices, this is probably the only legit “winter warmer” out of any of these four. I liked but didn’t love this one. Needs a higher ABV quite frankly to keep you toasty during the Yuletide season. At a minimum, though, Sam Adam’s and Brooklyn’s winters are better.


Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale

6.8% ABV

OK, nice red label with a wreath framing a pastoral picture of a snowcapped log cabin and the name “Celebration” would certainly make you think you’re getting a winter beer, full of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and other egg-noggy type things. Nope. This is pretty much just a standard double IPA. And a good one at that. What in the world is Sierra Nevada thinking in making this their special winter seasonal? Who knows. But thanks, I guess.  Delicious and overhopped in a good way, sticky and full of citrus sensations, this one is worth searching out. As a “winter” beer this is an abject failure, but just as a beer, it is probably the best Sierra Nevada I’ve ever had and a damn fine IPA.  I can’t wait for Sierra Nevada’s summer beachtime seasonal release, tentatively slated to be a 13% ABV dark chocolate and coffee stout that actually give the inside of your stomach a sunburn.


Final thought:  when are they ever gonna make me some Hanukkah seasonal beers? Perhaps a nice strong ale with tastes of potato latke, chocolate gelt, and dreidels? YUM.

*Perhaps they make unphotographable labels so that one can never actually prove they drank a shitty Abita beer?

Samuel Adams Winter Lager

December 3rd, 2008 by Aaron Goldfarb | 7 Comments | Filed in Brewer: Boston Beer Company, Country: America, Grade: B plus, Style: Winter Warmer

5.8% ABV from a six-pack

My Porno Hook-Up

You won’t believe this story, so you might as well just pretend I made it up.

I have a lot of friends and I get invited to a lot of parties, especially as the holiday season heats up. And just like Kim Kardashian won’t turn down an invite to a lame awards show, I will pretty much show up at any shindig. Which is odd since I often have a terrible time. As an eternal optimist though, I always think I am going to have a blast, regaling the men with great stories, beguiling a multitude of sexy women, ending the night drinking champagne out of a stiletto as the sun comes up, and waking up on the host’s sofa with a lampshade on my head.

However, as we get older and older, the problem becomes that the parties become more and more boring. For one simple fact: everyone is a couple. And couples are inately boring. Our early twenties big beer blasts full of 90% single people become quiet couples’ dinner parties with a lot of hummus and toasted pita points. Not that I’m complaining about hummus, that stuff’s delicious.

The starts of these parties are always fun as people first dig into the food and the wine and start loosening up, introductions made by the host. “And here’s my boring friend ____ who has this boring job and there’s his boring wife ____ who has that boring job.” Quite frankly, unless you’re a stripper, astronaut, or professional football player, I really could care less in hearing about your occupation. Sorry, it is what it is.

In attending these parties stag I’m always treated like some member in a freak show, the werewolf boy or the world’s tiniest monk. My ostensible peers pelting me with questions about my lack of marriage, my lack of kids, my lack of owning anything nicer than some Ping irons. At the beginning of most parties, I always become the focus of attention. I have interesting stories, caaaaaaaa-razy stories, even transgressive stories, and the buttoned-up types want to hear them. In the same way they get a vicarious thrill out of watching an action movie or late-night softcore on Cinemax. An egomaniac, it is usually this part of the party, the only part of the party, I actually enjoy.

But after a half-hour or so, every one starts ignoring me, and the “adults” start having “adult” conversations, I forced to go stand away like a child shuffled away to another room during a dinner party. They drinking one or two glasses of boring wine while like a fratboy I brought a six pack of beer. At least it was good stuff. Sam Adam’s highly respectable version of a winter warmer. A lager but full bodied and flawlessly spiced. I really like it.

As the adults talked about the holograms used in CNN’s election coverage, and the sonograms from their recent visit to the doctors, and the “darling” monograms on the items they received as wedding gifts, I skulked to the corner to get drunk and try to figure out what girl I should text for a later-night meet-up.

There was actually one other single in attendance, Annie. A rarity for most of these boring affairs. Usually the two singles are drawn to each other like magnets, but I was less-than-interested in her. A freshly-minted doctor, she seemed boring as hell. Then again, most doctors are. Years of study, sitting in libraries, a lot of handwashin’ and scrubs-wearin’ do not lend themselves to creating social superstars. Then again, would you want a practicioner that could schmooze up a room like Dean Martin or Jackie Gleason? I doubt I would, but, then again, I never go to see health professionals.

Earlier in the evening, when it was her turn to introduce herself, the shy Annie had noted that this was her first time “out” in 40 days. We noticed she had a pager on her jeans’ belt loop and made as-would-be-expected jokes (”What are you a drug dealer in 1992?”). Trite and obvious jokes but we all laughed because they were still kinda funny and because you laugh at people’s jokes early on during dinner parties before you realize you hate them all. After the barrage of jokes fizzled out, Annie had explained it was because she was on “emergency emergency” call, assuring us that the beeper would only come into play should two others doctors fall ill that night. Which never ever never happened.

With the adults discussing whether they should move to Westchester or the Jersey suburbs to start a family, I had no choice but to approach Annie.

She stood in the corner like a classic wallflower, uncomfortable in her own skin, unsure where to put her hands, her feet, her eyes. I didn’t think I had much interest in her sexually, romantically, as a friend, a conversation partner, a golfing buddy, a tennis companion, or anything else, but she was the only single and all the well-lubricated couples had begun talking about topics that I would probably never been mature enough to waste time discussing.

I opened my foray to Annie by remarking that she wasn’t drinking, which I didn’t remark was making her even more boring.

“I’m technically not allowed to…”

She explained that, yes, though there was only like a 0.000001% chance she would have to work that night, she really couldn’t drink “on the job.”

I mocked her piousness. I’m good at peer pressuring people and soon I had whipped her up a gin and tonic, one a tad dryer than she probably expected. She was undoubtedly a novice drinker as she was clearly becoming intoxicated after just a few sips.

She was kind, but didn’t have much to say. Attractive too, but stuffier than a plush toy, more prim and proper than a Quaker. As I said, I don’t go to doctors for “check-ups.” Just seems like a bit of a scam. Something to keep up the medical industrial complex. I’ve always agreed with a friend who once told me you only need to go to the doctor if you break a leg or get AIDS. Seems about right. And in Manhattan, forget about it. I’m not spending all day sitting in a waiting room reading “Redbook” just to see if I might possibly have some problem.

So, with no other conversation topics, I asked her:

“I NEVER go to the doctor. Haven’t been to a general practitioner since I was like 19. So break it to me. Give me the real answer. I don’t want the answer you’re supposed to give in order to make perpetual money for your industry, I want the real answer: how often should a guy like me be going to the doctor?”

She impassively looked me up and down, scrutinizing me like a piece of Kosher meat.

“You can hit me with it,” I said, fully expecting bad news.

“A guy like you? Young, healthy, and robust looking…

She cutely crinkled her nose for one final study of me.

“You seriously don’t need to go more than once every five to seven years. Assuming you feel fine of course.”

“I KNEW IT! I’ve been telling everyone this for years! What a fucking scam!”

“Shhhh…” she smiled for the first time. “Don’t blow up our spot.”

And she even makes a little joke!

It’s funny I never go to the doctor because I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. I know the statistics, I know likelihoods, I know the odds, and I don’t fear death or pain, it’s just I watch “House,” and I read so many goddamn books, so many science and medical papers–yes, I consider that “fun”–that I know about all sorts of strange and terrible ailments which I then transpose onto myself.

For the last two years I’d privately thought I had testicular cancer. I found a smaller-than-a-ball-bearing bump one evening while self-abusing myself and had been certain it was the big C. But, of course, I never went to the doctor, instead just reading about diagnoses online. I must not truly be a hypochondriac.

But here was my chance. And, luckily I’d drank enough alcohol that I had the balls to ask about my balls.

I looked around to make sure no one could hear me. I looked Annie in the eyes. She could the tell I was sincere, about to confide something important to her.

“I’m sorry if I’m out of line…but…”

After I gave her the scoop, she looked around the room. Was she mad?

“Follow me.”


She marched off to the bathroom. The host’s bedroom bathroom that no guests had been using. I trepidatiously followed her.

We got into the bathroom and she locked the door. Though seemingly impossible, she instantly had become even more prim and proper and she was already like a fucking 1800’s school marm. The expression on her face was completely placid, completely focused.

“Drop your pants.”

Wow. Free medical work is even better than free drinks. And far rarer. I did as I was told.

Without looking down, without looking at me, just staring off toward the medical cabinet mirror on the wall, she reached into my boxer briefs and rolled my right testis in her hand for a minute. I too looked off into space. It was surprisingly awkward, surprisingly clinical. It didn’t even seem that inappropriate. I heard some guests laughing in the distance.

“You’re fine. That’s probably just a minor varicocele, a vein enlargement. Nothing to be concerned about. If it gets bigger or actually starts to hurt, you should see your doctor. A doctor.”

I looked at her relieved. I exhaled and smiled.

“Thank you, Annie.”

Her hand was still on my junk. I looked down, taking the scene in. I looked back into her eyes. She moved in for a kiss. WHOA! It had gone from clinical to inappropriately pornographic in seconds. One of those rare porno hookups where innocuous situations escalate to sordidness at the drop of the hat, and completely unexpectedly, as if poorly scripted by a hack.

We made out for milliseconds before she removed her hands and went to the sink to scrub up as if preparing for surgery.

“Come on, pull your pants up, we better get back to the party.”

She quickly left and went back outside, leaving me in the bathroom.

What the fuck? I quickly analyzed the previous minute or two. Unsure what had gone wrong. Unsure what had gone right.

I returned to the party a few seconds after her. I stood in the corner by the door, sweating, thinking, antsy as I slugged my beer. What was I supposed to do next?

Annie moved to the finger foods table and had some guacamole, totally ignoring me, nonchalantly talking to another party guest.


Everyone turned as Annie’s pager blew up. We all knew what it probably meant. She seemed more surprised than any one. She looked down. “Shit!” She got frantic. “Unbelievable!” She gathered her stuff–”Fucking Joe!–and began going around the party, quickly saying “I’m sorrys” and “goodbyes” to everyone.

I was the last person she encountered on her way out the door headed back to her hospital. Just as she had done to everyone else, she held out her hand professionally, coldy.

“It was GOOD to meet you, Aaron.” She stared deeply into my eyes. “I hope to SEE you AGAIN.”

I thought I got what she was hinting at, what words she was stressing and for what purpose, but I’ve been wrong before. Especially while drunk. She left, and two minutes later I snuck out the door without saying goodbye to my friends.

Once I got outside I stood in front of the UES highrise looking around. Son of bitch! I had been wrong. I had totally misread her implications, or apparent lack thereof. And it was only 10:00 PM. With no other plans for the evening, I was going to have to go back up to the party with my tail between my legs and lie about why I’d been outside. Would people believe I had just taken up smoking?


I turned. Annie stood at the corner peeking her head around the building.

I was elated.

We quickly grabbed a cab and went back to her University Hospital’s resident housing where she showed me her diplomas.