Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Beer and football IV — the all-important third preseason game

The game: Patriots somewhere
The beer: Northampton Daniel Shays Best Bitter
The result: Who cares
The commentary: New England, as a region, is comprised of six states:

1. Maine
2. New Hampshire
3. Massachusetts
4. Half of Connecticut
5. Pawtucket, Rhode Island
6. My own self-importance

Despite rumors to the contrary, Vermont is not one of them. Northern New England (Maine and New Hampshire) is wonderful: the people are friendly, the air is clean, the beer is delicious. Vermont? The people are rude and/or hippies. Like real hippies, the smelly homeless kind. The air smells of hippie filth, except when you're in your car driving through the glorious Green Mountains, which is the best way to see Vermont anyway. And OK, the beer is pretty good. I'll give them that. But Colorado has delicious beer too. Pennsylvania. Fucking Old England. And they don't need to fly under the New England flag (a triptych of me barfing in the Hub Bowling Center in 1982, outside the Small Planet Bar & Grill in 1994 and on the inbound platform at Arlington station in 2002). Vermont is another part of the country and perhaps a whole other country altogether.

Guess where we went last weekend? Brattleboro, Vermont! We'd been curious about the town for years and chose it as a quick getaway. Urban! Artsy! Pubs! It read like an upscale Northampton without the baggage. Unfortunately: hippies. Ten years ago we probably would have been alright. I'm sure A. and I could have found a nice restaurant followed by late-into-the-night drinks at a funky bar. But, see, we've got a toddler now. Dinner starts closer to 4:00 than to 8:00. And even if we settle in somewhere nice, as we did on the roof deck at Whetstone Station Brewery, G. enjoys the scene for a limited amount of time until "Geddown… geddowwwn!" Needless to say, vacations aren't what they were before G. came along. Also needless to say, we wouldn't trade her to pretend we're still young. Our independence will return once we're old and pissing ourselves.

Skipping the details of the trip, we recovered by detouring through—yes—Northampton on our way home. It's been almost a decade since I've lived there and we've been back once or twice. Weird time for me, ten years ago. But it was nice to be there on a beautiful day, enjoying lunch at the Northampton Brewery. The beer, the catfish bites, A. across the table. And G. alongside us now. She was great throughout this meal, better than at any of the Brattleboro stops. It was good to be in New England again.

We walked around awhile, found a nice little playground, a really nice farmers market, a really, really nice craft beer/wine/specialty foods shop called Provisions (where I picked up four bombers, including a couple from Maine; Maine produces nothing but good beer; I purchased none in Vermont) but somehow didn't duck into Turn It Up, since I'd left all my shit for sale at home. There's one in Brattleboro too. What was I thinking?

Anyway, the hometown team played a preseason game last week and got schmucked by the four-win Lions. I didn't watch a second of it because I forgot they were playing—Project Runway is on Thursdays, you know—and apparently I missed the end of the Brady/Belichick dynasty. Again. Oh well, somehow G. and I will survive a doomed season. You say they're playing another tomorrow night? The unimportant fourth preseason game? "Well… the line was so long I said 'Fuck it!'" They'll still win the AFC East.

Lastly—and if you're reading this then you are he because no one else does—a sincere shout-out to my old blogging friend Steve, who has had an unfair run of horrible blogging fodder for too long. Here's to Jay Cutler elevating his game to that of a serviceable spot starter in Steve's honor. Also, go read his blog. He has interesting things to say and excellent taste in music. Too bad about the creep who keeps harassing him to write more, goddammit! Cheers, my man.