Tuesday, June 1, 2010
B is for Beer
I miss Princeton. It is not as if I sit at home alone, in the dark, gazing wistfully through old photos and sighing softly to myself as I reminisce on those blissful four years, now already four years gone. And yet, after reunions this year, I realize that there is always been a bit of a dull ache and reminder of my time there, and it isn't just the scars on my bum leg from getting run over in that damn crosswalk all those years ago.
What is it exactly that I miss so much? I am not unhappy in my career nor have I failed to find fulfillment in "the real world." In fact, I am happier at this moment deep down in my core than I ever thought I could be. Yet I think that, for me, Princeton (aka college in general), represents a time when literally anything was possible. I dodged death, if not a car, met people who were truly capable of changing the world, was at the peak of my physical prowress both in and out of the pool, and had the fantastic opportunity to learn for the sake of learning, from some of the most amazing minds of our time at that. I hold to this day that my thesis adviser is The Most Brilliant Woman Alive, and I still recall certain lectures and discussions and instances of profound intellectual fulfillment the minute my mind begins to wander.
So what's the point of it all, gastronomically speaking? Upon heavy reflection, the one single taste that embodies my college experience is....beer. That's right. Beer. Cheap beer. Bud Light Beast. Natty Light. Milwaukee's Best. You name it, I drank it religiously and without a second thought for four years and then some. The minute I left Princeton? HELL no. But the minute I set foot back on campus? Girl, it never tasted so good.
You would think that my gastronomical memory would be mooched late night pizza or a heart-stop from Hoagie Haven, or even my most beloved cheesy-eggs from my eating club, Cloister. Nope. It is beer all the way, much as it ever was.
You see, it was the incomparable (for better or worse) taste of beer that was there when I had my first love and my first heartbreak. It was there during my first real hangover and the day that I showed up at swim practice still wearing my Halloween costume (as a leprechaun, if you must know). Beer was in the background when I turned in my thesis, when I met the friends I would have for life, when we won conference championships, and when we lost them, too. There was always a six-pack or two during late night movies or spring-time bands, and when the "Old Guard" marches each year during the "P-Rade," some of whom are back for their 70th reunion, they clutch an ice-cold brew in their hand, a brew no doubt handed to them by someone young enough to be their great-grandchild. And that can was pulled from a class beer jacket. It may be sentimental, but that is what beer means for me.
It doesn't taste very good, and lord knows there is no nutritional value, but in its own nasty, smelly, calorie-riddled way, it sure does a body good.