>>> So College
By staff writer Mike Faerber
January 21, 2007

I left the last swig of my beer sitting on the lonely shelf next to the surprisingly curious, and large, fish. The aquariums, although encircling the back wall of the bar and providing its namesake, were only perhaps 2 feet in depth. How could they grow so big in such conditions? But more importantly, how come they could merrily flutter around in a place like this?

I neglected that last gulp for many reasons. The bar was closing in ten. I’ve also heard that the last 4/5 of a beer is backwash… or something equally ridiculous and trivial.

It also might have had something to do with me rushing three beers in an hour and gagging on the last gulp, spewing a mouthful of beer onto the already sticky, sagging wooden floor. Fuck that was embarrassing. Once again, even three months after my twenty-first birthday, I’ve found that I haven’t eliminated my gag reflex, only grown accustomed to it. Still, I usually only have to worry about people seeing the pained look on my face.

You don’t tell a fucking soul, fish.

“It’s amazing how much effort a girl puts into impressing her boyfriend standing at the back of the bar.”

I entered the bar enthusiastically, after receiving a text from a female friend a half hour earlier that she was indeed downtown for the night. That was all the excuse I needed. I expected to run into her and her friends, toss back a few, and in general take advantage of one of the few opportunities to drink in a place other than my apartment with people other than douchebags. At most I expected a quick text to confirm that she upstairs, or in a booth, or in a hurry to get there. No luck… ever.

To be fair, I should have known. She is notoriously flaky, and these kinds of things happen… to me all the time.

If I sound bitter, it must be my second beer, although I did upgrade from regular Miller Lite to Shiner. Still, beer is a fickle beverage that changes taste based on your mood. While having a blast, you can toss back 6 or 7, and that’s aside from the requirements of some quite depressing drinking game that trades contrived you drink 6’s between two semi-interested members of the opposite sex.

On other nights, every sip stings as a reminder that you shouldn’t be doing this alone, or merely to stave boredom. This was one of the latter.

It didn’t take long to notice that I had arrived late to a party consisting of older, more indoctrinated patrons. They knew the drill, one I am eager to learn, but only if it proves more promising that as it is currently. They were already drunk, dressed nice enough to let people know they were trying to dress nice, and engaging in a form of dance known as “I’m trying to keep the rhythm, but I also want to taste your throat.”

And God were they tall; girls in 55 inch heels and guys in better shape to win those girls. Nobody can deny that the women look good. It’s truly amazing how much effort a girl puts into impressing her boyfriend standing at the back of the bar with an impatient look. “Have you rejected enough guys tonight, sweetie? I’d like to cash in on all this extra attention back at the loft.”

It only takes me the first beer to realize the night is going to end with me writing about it. But resilience tells me I should stick it out, and play a little game called “these people don’t intimidate you” for the rest of the night. The rules are simple. You go talk to a girl, not because you’re really all that interested, and not because you expect a favorable response, but mainly so you can leave telling yourself, “See, told you I’m no pussy.”

Shut the fuck up, fish.

Dancing, I’m good at that. Meh, still only halfway into this beer, don’t want to spill. Whoa those two girls are dancing alone and somewhat growing closer to me. I’ll do a half-hearted shimmy as I lean against this wall… you know, so they know I’m a fun-loving guy.

How the fuck did I ever dance sober in high school?

Enough fucking feeling sorry for myself. They clearly need a male partner. I kick the dancing into high-awkward, you know, because I don’t take myself that seriously. Their giggles make their retreat to the bar and ensuing arm around the shoulder from a more comforting male seem like a good thing, leaving me in a slow waltz with my regret. She keeps stepping on my toes.

I can’t believe you’re just going to let those two girls dance and not do anything about it. They stopped and drunkenly ogled the fish. Here’s my chance to awe them with my wit.

“Yeah, this place is called The Aquarium!” My eye roll informs them not only of the reason for the fish, but also that I am a sarcastic asshole. They may have thought my enthusiasm was feigned, and they were right, but in truth I actually was rather eager to get one barb in before the night was over. One of them quizzically looked at me, unsure of whether my bait was hooked.

Now is as good a time as any to try dancing with them.

I wanted to say they were close guy friends at least, possibly even steady flings. But I had already overheard too many conversations from snuggly looking couples that revealed just how casual twenty-something sex can be. Socialites in full embrace and matching jackets were asking each other in poorly encrypted curiosity whether they lived with any roommates.

My hand involuntarily waiting in my pocket for the phone to vibrate, I decided that this all too long hour had already enough impact to keep me awake for several more. Drowning on that last gulp of beer, and feeling too much like a fish out of water. I eyed the foamy tide slush back in forth in the bottom half inch of amber, wondering if there was any way to redeem myself by draining that last swallow.

I decided there wasn’t and left it with reluctant fingers for the fishes.

You can down a steady stream of Mike’s home brews at his blog.


Beer Review – Shiner Bock

The great state of Texas, usually known for exporting an unnatural amount of pride and illegal immigrants, for once deserves an over-sized amount of praise. Delivering a dark, smooth taste that is still balanced enough to allow for quantity.

The distinctive sun-gold label is a poor choice, because neither the sun nor gold provides such warmth nor happiness. It goes great with exaggerations both of the toast and story variety, but usually I find that nothing complements a Shiner quite like the 5 others waiting in the fridge.

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