to another beer blogging friday session circle! Tonight's topic is brought you by Beers I've Known
"The nights are drawing in, there may even be snow, what better way to enjoy a beer than in front of a log fire. Turn that TV off and talk to your drinking compatriots."
Here in Paris, as the days get colder and colder, the streets get more and more gaudy, and we are forced to greet the fact that less of our paychecks will be dedicated to boozing. Tis the season for sales and forced family enjoyment.
Unfortunately, yours truly has neither the paycheck for sales nor the family to avoid. So I've decided to share my beery tales of woe and heartbreak around a smokers circle on a late Parisian Sunday evening.
Let Uncle Tom play, while you read:
Warm beer and cold women
I don't have anyone to go home to in the cold, so after closing the pub on Sunday night, or rather Monday morning at 4am, I joined the buzzing drunks at
The last late night beer joint in Paris
An underground beer drinking adventure in December.
As we close our bar late, we are nearly the last ones standing.
But not the last. So we few, partially sober souls, go for an after work drink. This isn’t a simple 'quick one with the friends before heading home because you have to work tomorrow', this is the last open beer joint in Paris.
By the time we (the second to last crew) shuffle into the bar and remove our layers of winter gear, our security man, who leaves with the drunk exodus as we close, is already having relationship issues and finding new romances.
The bar’s bar staff are all men and women of the saloon area. They chose family life and also a night time existence- they are some of the most insane people on the planet. Rotund, expressive ex-Hell’s Angels and gothic ex-beauty queens.
The crowd are all the last men standing. They are each that one experienced drinker in the group who is always ready for another shot. That cheery fellow who chats with strangers, uses drug to excess for his entire life and is prone to wonder off in search of wilder landscapes. When he goes ghost- the last late night beer joint is where he goes.
The last girl standing before me had dropped out of the haze mid way into our first beer upon entering. She had likely already been there for several hours (or days), as she had three men in tow all flirting with her oblivious of their rivals equal intentions. She was able to navigate her way to the bathroom with efficiency, unassisted by said crew. As the last female in the pack, I must have looked like a giant stuffed chicken standing in a room full of bulimics.
A man in a holiday hat (unfashionably too soon, in my opinion) falls from the bar while asking the cherry cheeked bar man if Guinness has more alcohol than the other beers. I'll be safe as long as they can't see me.
This festive early December grew would have been interesting but my brain on a backwash of wondering what it was that my manager had ordered for me to drink. I could only stare at the glass in my hand appalled that he hadn't consulted me for my order, and this was what I got. I say that he ordered it for me as if it were a blended strawberry margarita and I was aghast by his presumptuousness when in actuality it was a commercial lager, much worse. He ordered in bulk and we all got our load of liquid gold. Many times was the beer sloshed around, small pieces of it being heartlessly discarded. Maybe it needs that rice adjunct so that it can feel better about losing so much of itself to dirty beer joint floors.
He shouted to our circle and we all made a clinking cheers to the winter season. I didn't want my beer, it made my hand cold and my stomach hurt. Maybe that was in my mind, not my stomach, but rather it was Heineken, Pelforth, 1664 or some other fizzy yellow mess, I could only ponder as to why someone would drink such a thing this close to Christmas. Is this considered being naughty? Will beer Santa punish me?
When I was done divining my future by way of beer froth, I had already made the rather forceful suggestion that we all have another drink. I make myself sound tough here, as if I was pushing the lager swilling like a frat brat but in reality I had handed my ½… 3/4ths… unconsumed beer to a larger male co-worker, mouthing something about how it tasted like failure. He accepted it with a concerned look and I roused the team to finish their drinks so we could surface for a second go. I wanted a whiskey to burn out the lager taste.
The surface level of the bar came with a welcome blast of nearly breathable air, unlike the lower level where the smokers are. The submarine downstairs is a windowless, black painted concrete box attached to the bathrooms. The outdoors is cold and wet, us careless drunks are likely to slip to our death and our jovial singing outdoors bothers the local residents. So if you feel the need to chain smoke your heroin high down then underground is where you belong. And where all the best mingling is.
As we settle back into the cigarette fish tank, I protectively hold my over priced Jameson like a cross, thinking "fizzy yellow beer is for wussies," and count the amount of people who are drinking pints of piss.
What an unlucky frickin number.
People can't see their beer, let alone smell or taste it, so no wonder they need drugs to help enjoy their evening.
I witness a moment of mixed childlike/apelike wonder where half the smog chamber assembly converge on one of the walls to inharmoniously bang out beats (artists, them all) and I realize that they think I am the most insane person they have ever met. I, whom hasn’t snorted anything in a nearly a decade, is trying to relate with people who are out at a bar at 6:30 am on a Monday. I carry baby carrots, hand lotion and 90% cocoa chocolate with me to all my bar shifts. I’m the perfect balance of flirty bar maid and assertive bar wench. I have detailed serving recipes sorted in my brain to such a degree that I can’t even access them without triggers. I have to be reminded of a drink before I can think of it, I am a professional drinker on a different level from these people but these late night monsters are my holiday relatives and I we are stuck together for the season. Might as well order another drink and try to speak French.
This is the place where you can do whatever you want, be whomever you want- wear sunglasses in the dark, proclaim your love for America after mocking John Wayne or creep around like a chicken and make dinosaur noises. It's the family living room. Most of these people would never converse on a normal occasion, but this is a holiday and we trapped here by the bar fireplace.
You don't have to say goodbye when you leave, everyone understands that there is only so much family time a person can handle. The security guy is like Dad at the door, asking where you are going for the rest of the evening. He is going to lock the door behind you and you won't be welcome back until the next day.
As the taxi rolls along the winter festival streets, starting to hum with early holiday shoppers, the sun is starting to melt up from the side of the planet where all the good beer is made. Hop plants have been soaking in the sun for hours and here I am, just ending a day that is starting. I hope my family is doing okay and that the late night beer joint doesn't run out of beer before tomorrow. See you there!