A long time ago, someone, whose name has long since been lost to antiquity, uttered this sage advice; “Do not cease to drink beer, to eat, to intoxicate thyself, to make love, and to celebrate the good days.” I found this quote on a beer website so it must be authentic, thus legitimatizing the wisdom of its message. With these words in mind, the Real Life Survival Guide sat down at the fabulous craft beer bar, Mikro, in Hamden, to answer life’s big and little questions and to celebrate the good things in life. But La Dolce Vita is not always so dolce, from caring for aging parents to dealing with illness and teaching children about mortality, life never tires of shooting sobering, buzz killing, arrows in our direction. But on this Sunday, barley met with hops, yeast and water and they joined together to sing a beautiful, intoxicating, song that danced upon the lips of the Real Life Survival Guide’s guest editors and with a magic that only beer can conjure, transformed itself into great conversation. So crack open a cold one, pour it into an appropriate vessel, drink deep and imbibe while listening to Episode 47.
The show began with the disbursement of summer beer cocktails made up of Harpoon Summer Ale, pineapple juice and St. Germain Liqueur. Sadly, I missed this show and was forced to sit alone at home drinking poor man’s Mimosas which consist of Corona mixed with Tang. With the drinks served and the right mood for talking set, Barbara Oliver started things off with a cautionary tale about cell phone roaming charges and Canada. Barbara ignored the roaming messages she received when she entered Canada and the next day was alerted by a representative of her phone company that within one day she had racked up a 400 dollar phone bill. So learn from her mistake, when in another country turn off roaming data, turn off your cellular data, use your phone’s WIFI and buy an international data package. Now some might blame Barbara and say she should have paid attention to her messages but here in America we are never wrong so I choose to do like the South Park song says and Blame Canada.
With the violent roaming and data assault from our vicious neighbor to the north behind them, the group engaged in a conversation about caring for our elderly parents. Joel Sachs, a CPA, mentioned how hard it is to keep you own family solvent while protecting your parents assets. Barbara mentioned that there is a whole new field of jurisprudence called elder law which inspired Bruce to invent the exciting new new TV drama, Bruce Barber: Elder Lawyer! Joel also mentioned long term care insurance as a must have for our aging population while Todney Harris brought to light the problem of banks taking advantage of their elderly customers by manipulating mortgage rates. Bruce brought up the problem faced by many in the middle class when it comes to their children’s college tuition. As college costs rise, many parents find themselves too rich to get financial aid but too poor to actually pay the tuition which leads to you, your children or both, taking on more debt. Raeleen Mautner said this problem can be avoided by going to state schools and by resisting the overwhelming urge to take undergraduate basket weaving classes. She’s right; you don’t want your kid wasting time weaving baskets, like a Canadian.
The conversation then turned to shots, not the fun kind that scantily clad waitresses pull off a bandoleer and throw down your throat while screaming like speedy Gonzalez, but shots as in allergies. Bruce takes shots to avoid the nasal conflagration that is launched every spring. He then went around the group and asked who was allergic and what they take to combat their symptoms. The list of meds is long and chemical with the exception of some pot, again, not the fun kind of pot, but pot as in “neti”. A neti pot is basically a watering can for your nose. You pour water from the pot into one nostril and let it pour out the other taking with it all the yuck from your sinuses. Guest editor Liz Larkin once described the neti pot as self inflicted water boarding. I concur, water and noses are mortal enemies and like a cobra and a mongoose they should be kept far apart from each other.
While on the subject of allergy meds, Bruce took the opportunity to poll the group about their favorite over the counter medications. Answers ranged from baby aspirin to Ibuprofen, Prilosec, Imodium and Raeleen’s favorite, tincture of Astragalus, which boosts immunity and if buried in the ground in a wet burlap sack with mandrake root and eye of newt creates a living, breathing, homunculus. Five points for Gryffindor!
The group next pondered the best way to keep you kids from going to a negative place when things go wrong in life. Tod, a middle school teacher, said the world of video games has helped create children who are programmed to only understanding win or lose and has made it tougher for them to answer open ended questions where they have to think critically. Duo has tried to be honest with his sons about his own mistakes and instill the notion that trying and failing is an essential part of life. Raeleen believes perspective works best to combat negative reactions to life’s more trivial speed bumps and explained how the death of her husband made both her, and her son, appreciate the gift of life more fully. Barbara explained how her battle with breast cancer forced her be honest with her children about life and death and how her struggle became a good example of how you can not only get past the toughest obstacles in life but you can also learn and grow a lot for having done so.
Closing out the show, Bruce mentioned he has instructed his sons to play the Rolling Stones, You Can’t Always Get What You Want at his funeral, while I have chosen two Irish songs. The first song, Isn’t It Grand? reminds us that, “…the longer you live, the sooner you bloody will die.” and The Parting Glass, which will hopefully send me on to the undiscovered country with the sweet lines, “So fill to me the parting glass, goodnight, and joy be with you all.” Until then, Slainte.