On drinking beer on the curb

I do not know if this subject has ever been explored in literature or elsewhere, but something has to be said about drinking beer on the curb.

Despite its seeming lack of taste or even vulgarity, drinking beer on the curb is not what it at first appears. If you think about it, it is never a simple or casual occurrence—you do not do it after work instead of going to a local pub, you do not do it instead of dropping by your regular café, and you do not do it before, after or while having a leisurely evening of reading a magazine. So what calls for drinking beer on the curb? It is either a state of mind that cannot be gratified by any other setting, or a truly worthwhile companionship that cannot be reaffirmed by any other act. Indeed, it is always a deliberate ceremony—an intentional immersion into pondering certain circumstances or savouring a precious relationship. Every once in a while, drinking beer on the curb can be a means used for other special purposes, too.

If you happen to drink beer on the curb alone, you usually do so when you have something fundamentally serious and important to reflect upon. It might be an undergoing circumstance, a fix you have gotten yourself into, or something more general that has been occupying you for a long while. And not only that—you need to contemplate something that calls for leveling things out, where there is no decoration, no staging, no frills; where it is only the curb, the beer and you. You try to look at things from as a simple and honest an angle as it can possibly get, sometimes from as down as your life has taken you. At such moments, getting to the essence of things is paramount.

You do not drink beer on the curb amidst uneventful, ordinary life. Chances are that you are back to square one or that you have lost any sense of direction and need to lie low and wait until things take recognisable shape. It might also be the instance of when you realise that you ain't never been blue till you've had that mood indigo. Or, quite possibly, you simply need to put everything aside, slow down, maybe even come to a complete stop, and take your time recognising things for what they are.

You cannot drink beer on just any curb. After all, this is the place that has to accept you unconditionally no matter what you bring—tears, mad laughter or silence. The curb has to be suitable for each particular circumstance, as well as bring about that special and subtle flavour that no pub, coffee shop or restaurant possesses. The curb is usually literal but every once and again takes a figurative form or a derivative shape, mostly when other special purposes come into play or unique events occur.

More often than not you will want to bring your music along. Radiohead's “In Rainbows”, Miles Davis' “Kind of Blue” or Chopin's “Scherzos”—take your pick. And of course, drinking beer on the curb is the perfect time to stare into space.

If you are lucky enough to drink beer on the curb with someone else, your companion will certainly be a very special to you person. You cannot drink beer on the curb with your friendly neighbor, new acquaintance or, in most cases, even the wife. It has to be a soul mate, no less.

You do not drink beer on the curb to just chat about this and that—most of the time you either have something important to say and convey or envision discussing a subject that is essential to both of you. Again, there are things and issues that are best suited to be talked about on the curb with a can of beer in your hand.

Drinking beer on the curb with a mate brings about intimacy and eliminates any and all pretense. Put differently, the curb and the beer accept no pretentiousness—indeed, if there is any, the ceremony is simply not going to happen. But once underway, it makes you open up and utter things that are difficult to articulate or talk about otherwise.

Any time of the day is suitable for drinking beer on the curb. Most often it will be nighttime and when there are fewer distractions; nonetheless, there are no rules, really. If the ritual needs to be accompanied by the crowds rushing to work in the morning, do not let it bother you.

So never be ashamed of grabbing a can and sitting down on the curb. And when you get accused of acting inelegantly, which is bound to happen at some point, keep in mind that the very ability to do what drinking beer on the curb takes indicates that you still have feelings, cravings and positive intentions, as well as that the time of you becoming a pig, in a cage, on antibiotics is still far off.


To the best of my knowledge, illustration © Anzai Mizumaru