I wanted to be with the regular people. To know how they lived and what drove them to do what they did. That was far more interesting than the countless and monotonous conversations about movies or technology or who got the new iPhone. It was like coming back to a different life. Things had been put into perspective. I felt different, like I didn’t belong anymore. You live in your bubble too long and it will start to seem like the insignificant things are the most important.
I desperately needed to walk into a bar many Americans could barely fit into, throw a couple euros down and have the bartender slide a tiny ice-cold beer across the bar top. I would grab it just as a little overflow drips down the outside of the frosted glass that’s so cold the beer freezes before it makes its way to the bottom. I would sip that frothy top and be in heaven. One last thing to complete this dream would be a soccer game on in the background. Never too prevalent or obtrusive as to get in the way of conversation, unless of course it’s the World Cup or a big European match. In that case T.V.’s are often propped up outside in a public square or an outside bar area. One thing for sure, food and drink would be a huge component.
To walk in from wherever you are going or whatever you are doing and sit or stand and have a quick beer in the daylight on a Wednesday is something so simple, yet so hard to find in the U.S. Not only hard to find, but discouraged. And I live in a liberal city and work in a liberal industry. The great U.S. is amazing in a million ways, so this isn’t a bashing of Americans, but more so a realization of what’s important, at least to me, and what sometimes we lose sight of. Drinking. That is said with some sarcasm and kidding of course, as there are many more important things than drinking. However, the experience of drink as a means of social normality and life is part of what prompted the creation or re-branding of this blog.
Spending time in Portugal and Spain during this last World Cup was not only an amazing experience, but combined a few of my favorite things in such a beautiful way it was hard to come back to reality. One thing was of course the game, which in itself is beautiful, not only on the field but also in its connection to the culture and people. Coffee or espresso is in abundance and easy to find wherever you go, and always, at least in my experience, of high quality. Never had a bad espresso. The availability of a quick ice-cold beer was a wondrous thing and I’ve never truly recovered from that accessibility. Add in a little whiskey, or grappa, or variation of the sorts and damn, I’m in a good place.
What makes this all come together though are the people and the environment and the discussion that surrounds all these things. They are all activities, which for the most part are accessible to the working-class man, the regular person, or the un-rich. With soccer, and drinking really, comes a reverence to history and an appreciation for the past. This historic perspective is probably more of a European thing , which makes sense due to its inherent advantage over the U.S. in that department.
This re-branding won’t be just about my personal experiences in other countries, but how these few things I love bring people together. The conversations in bars and restaurants and homes and public squares are so varying and important and interesting, and connected in too many ways not to create a forum dedicated to Coffee, Soccer, Beer, and Whiskey, and of course the people and culture that surround these things.
I’m not an expert in any one of these areas, but I’m quite educated and experienced in all these “disciplines” and simply in love with them, and a writer, so here we go…