Winter Madness (Or, O Christmas Ales)

This post is in honor of “Winter Madness,” Dame Tina Fey’s episode of 30 Rock that perfectly crystallizes the acute misery of winter.


Hello, dear readers. It’s December 29th. You know what that means.

I have big girl reservations with Hedwig/El Greco/Bernie Kosar and two friends at a fancy restaurant downtown for New Year’s. We’re not eating until eight p.m. I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but I’ve been 47 years old since the day I was born. I’m a bit of a curmudgeon. It is not in my nature to be particularly adventurous. And above all else, I require a bedtime no later than three hours after sunset. Winters, therefore, are especially difficult for me to maintain any semblance of a social life.

So really what December 29th means, is I have two nights to train myself to stay awake for New Year’s. I have to be cogent long enough to enjoy the meal that H/EG/BK and I will be paying what is essentially a car payment to enjoy. If I pass out in the cab on the way home, I want it to be from drinking, not because it’s 6 hours past my bedtime and the cold hurts my bones. Where are my heart pills?!

The only way to stay up later than I usually do that doesn’t feel like torture is to get a little drunk. Training tonight will consist of alternately drinking Crooked River Yuletide Ale, Shiner Holiday Cheer and the old Cleveland standby (although it has been aging in my closet for almost two months, now) Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

As with the highly popular In Vino Veritas post, you’re coming with me.

Beer 1: 8 p.m. – 8:36 p.m. Crooked River Yuletide. Review: I am getting tired of winter beers. My favorite season for beer is fall. Actually, I’m not going to review these. If you want to know what they taste like, go buy them. Instead, for each beer, I’m going to tell you one fact about myself. Depending on how much I drink, you and I might become very close. Beer/fact 1: During my senior year at Ohio University, I lived in the ground floor one-bedroom apartment of a poorly weatherproofed cinder block “house” and survived through an epic centipede infestation. I knew it was getting out of hand the night I tried to go to bed (at 9 p.m., of course), and was interrupted by a centipede crawling across my pillow and under the covers. Fleeing my bedroom in pink shorts, a pink sweatshirt and slippers, I ran to my old apartment and begged my former roommates to let me sleep on their couch. Those jerks made me go out for drinks in that outfit before I could sleep.

Stay tuned… Beer 2 ahead!

Beer 2: 8:40 – 9:06 p.m. Shiner Holiday Cheer. Beer/fact 2: I didn’t like cheese until I was 22. I peeled it off my pizza. Picked it off sandwiches. Exceptions: Planters Cheez Balls (remember those?) and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Now I really, really, really, really like cheese.

I do miss Cheez Balls, though.

Beer 3: 9:15 p.m. – 10:10 p.m. Well folks, we’ve reached beer 3. AND I’ve made it past the 9:30 mark. Great Lakes Christmas Ale. They told me at the brewery tour that you should age this shit like a fine wine. I’m here to tell you: don’t bother. I consumed my first Christmas Ale at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Oxford, Ohio several years ago. I didn’t think it lived up to the hype then, and even after having bought into the hype upon moving to Cleveland, I confess: I don’t see what’s so special. As much as I try to love GLBC (corporate social responsibility, what what!), I have been underwhelmed too often to really rile myself up over it. Did you see my post about hot Christmas Ale? Also, Christmas Ale almost killed me at a Browns game earlier in the season. One that we won. So yeah, I have my grudges.

Anyway, here’s my fact for this beer – it’s a vague memory from my early childhood! One time around preschool-age, I was at someone’s birthday party. They maybe belonged to a private beach somewhere near Lakewood? Does that exist? Anyway, everyone got really excited because there were some ducks. They started to feed them. I was excited too, except that I stepped on a bee. That forced me into those choking scream/sobs that only children are able to muster. The adults at the party started shushing me because I was scaring the ducks. That’s when I learned I was not as important as I thought I was.

Beer 4: 10:11 p.m. - Back to Shiner. Bernie Kosar drank the last Crooked River. This is the last one, though, until I’m stuck with aged Christmas Ale for the rest of the night if I choose to continue on this path. Here’s another fact about me! My only hidden talent is that I have freakishly stretchy skin. Obviously this isn’t a talent. It’s more of a disgusting personal fact about me. I like to pretend it’s all the space I have for the incredibly lady-muscles I could build if I had any commitment to personal fitness. If that’s the case, though, I have a lot to learn about working out my scalp muscles.

Beer 5: 10:59 – Water. We’re having guests this weekend. So tomorrow I have to clean the bathroom. I can’t sleep in forever. So right now I’m having water. Here’s probably my last fact of the night: I can’t sleep with socks on. I would rather smother a newborn puppy than sleep with socks on.

Not actually.

But sleeping with socks on would give me nightmares about murdering puppies if I could ever actually fall asleep in that disgusting state.

Good night, internet. It’s 11:03. Tomorrow, we’re breaking midnight.

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