“Let me guess,” Cynthia sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, “you’re all out”.
“Sorry ma’am, we just ran out,” the clerk said without the slightest remorse. “Maybe you should try the liquor store up the block,” the pimply 19-year-old continued with the kind of apathy that had become the hallmark of his generation.
“Yeah, ok thanks,” Cynthia mumbled without the slightest intention of going to the recommended liquor store. She had already tried them as well, with similar results. “How is it that everyone is out of PumpySpice Brew?” she wondered to herself with growing frustration. Ok, more than frustration, if Cynthia didn’t get her annual six pack of the delicious concoction she was going to have a full on meltdown.
For almost thirty years, ever since her 16th birthday when her father had snuck a sixer of the stuff past her mother, she and her pop had shared a bottle or two of PumpySpice every year, every birthday. Since her special day fell on another special day- Halloween, father and daughter had clinked bottles as ghost and cowgirl, Dracula and Catwoman, Superman and angel, cop and callgirl among others. And then everything changed last year. Her father had been diagnosed with terminal cancer- he had three months, maybe four. Their last Halloween/birthday drink of PumpySpice was two weeks before his last day, he had joked that his ‘cancer patient’ costume was his best ever. And then, he was gone.
This would be a her first birthday drinking alone- and she couldn’t even find the horrid stuff (why they had stuck with that awful-tasting beer was beyond her). She had been to every grocery store, every liquors store, even a few bars. No one could help her, PumpySpice Brew seemed to be disappearing off the shelves- quite in keeping with the seasonal theme, as pointed out by an annoyingly-perky bartender. Having spent her entire birthday on the unsuccessful quest, Cynthia was ready to call it quits and head home for a long bath (and a longer cry). What a horrible day. “I miss my daddy,” the forty-six year old whispered before forcing herself to focus on the road before she made the mistake of joining her father prematurely.
Parking the car in the driveway, Cynthia shuffled to the front door. Fumbling with her purse, keys and junk mail just collected from the box, she finally managed to unlock the door and make her way inside. Seeing that her husband was not yet home, Cynthia sighed and went to the kitchen. “Guess I’ll be making dinner again tonight,” she complained to the empty house. Normally cooking was something she enjoyed, tonight it just seemed like one more thing she had to do alone.
“Hey babe,” a voice from behind her said lovingly. Bret was home. Turning from the pot of boiling water and the frying pan of sizzling sasuage, Cynthia was ready to take her foul mood out on her unsuspecting husband. Hands on hips she opened her mouth with a snarky remark at the ready and then- she saw it. A few feet below the look-i-did-something-good smile on her husbands’ face, cradled like a newborn was the familiar black and orange box and six dark brown bottle necks peaking out- PumpySpice Brew.
A little unsure of how to proceed in light of his wife instantly bursting into tears at the sight of the beer, Bret relaxed a little when Cynthia began to smile through the tears. Handing her the beer while wrapping her in his arms he said a little shyly, “Happy Birthday, love,”. Somehow, despite never being a part of her father-daughter tradition , Bret had uttered the very same words her father had said on this day for the last thirty years. “Thanks Pop,” Cynthia thought blinking back more tears and hugged her husband even tighter.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Being that it is the fall season and Hallows Eve is mere weeks away, I have been on the lookout for the reappearance of a very special seasonal brew- Shipyard Pumpkinhead. This stuff is fall in a beer. For serious (or for cereal as my mom always said) its uber delicious. Unfortunately, it appears that the rest of Orlando feels the same sentiment and as such, finding a bottle, or even a pint of this stuff has been harder than a beaver’s tail. After two weeks of searching for the adult beverage, I all but gave up, resolving try again next year. And then the boyfriend came home. And what’s this? NO…. he has a six pack of yes, it is- Pumpkinhead. This amazing man, who doesn’t drink, I might add, found and purchased my most favorite autumn beer. Now that kids, is true love.
Love & Squirrels.