I’ll admit that I’m not much of a beerophile. Whether it’s Bell’s Oberon or a moderately chilled Schlitz in a dented can, I’m equally apt to flip the top side of my skull backwards as if it was on a hinge and pour said beer down my gullet. It’s beer. Beer belongs in my belly. Let’s send beer to my belly with the fewest obstructions possible. That includes reading the beer bottle label. I’ll assume that “high fructose corn syrup” and “phosphates” and several other kinds of “phates” exist within the beer and that way I’ll never have to read a label. Ever. It’s an unspoken deal I have with mass beverage producers: You give me legal intoxicants in sporty or sexy or heroic or metallic looking bottles and I will consume it no questions asked.*
But that agreement was broken on Friday. I was perusing the beer aisle looking for, basically, something different than my normal beer selections when I noticed several customers in a row selecting Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. I’d heard the Summer Shandy commercials on TV but had no reason to want to buy it other than so I could say “Summer Shandy” over and over again while I drank it. It’s fun to say. Try it. Summer Shandy. Tee-hee. Summer Shandy. Tee-hee. Damn, I giggle every time. And, if you know me, then you know that that’s enough to make me buy it. Summer Shandy. Tee-hee. Sale!
As I was happily plopping the gently clinking bottles into the cart, an unexpected word on the label caught my eye. Lemonade? Did that say “lemonade”? But I’m buying beer?!? Beer and lemonade go together like half marathons and cargo shorts. What’s that word doing on my label?!? I had no choice. A deeper inspection was warranted.
The label explains that it is “beer with a natural lemonade flavor” and the first thing I thought of was Zima. Ever have a Zima? Ever drink Pledge through a straw? Same thing. I instantly recoiled with the thought of an overwhelming taste of lemons in my beer. I want beer. If I wanted lemonade, I’d drink – wait for it – lemonade. I’m weird like that. But here’s the problem: The beer was already in my cart. Do you know the effort it would have taken to remove the beer from the cart, place it back on the shelf, and then make another selection all the while appearing hopelessly indecisive to the crowd of oblivious anonymous strangers in my presence? Nope too late. Summer Shandy it is. I didn’t want those people I don’t know - and who were paying no attention to me - to think I was a beer-choosing flip-flopper.
So, here’s how may weekend went encapsulated in sentences I spoke:
-“Hmmm, I’m not sure I like the Summer Shandy.”
-“I’ll try another Shandy and see how it goes.”
-“Want to try a Summer Shandy?”
-“Your neck hurts? You know what might fix that? A Shandy”
-“I hope I have time for a few Shandies before going to Harry Potter.”
-“Can I bring a Shandy into Harry Potter?”
-“Why are you looking at me like that, do you need a Shandy?”
-“I wonder if Voldemort drinks Summer Shandies?”
-“I wonder if there would be such a thing as war if everyone drank Shandies.”
-“You know who needed a Shandy?” Women’s soccer Team U.S.A.
-“I’m going to drink a Shandy in Team U.S.A.’s honor. Great effort ladies.
-“Do you know who did drink a Shandy? Team Japan.”
-“I’m almost out of Summer Shandy!”
-“Why can’t I say ‘Summer Shandy’ anymore? Are you sure you don’t need a Shandy?”
And that was only part of the weekend. Mrs. Nitmos, judging by the number of eye rolls and deeply exhausted exhales, didn’t share my enthusiasm for the words “Summer Shandy”. She especially didn’t seem to appreciate my suggestion that a Shandy might have prevented the bacterial eye infection she obtained this weekend from expired contact cleanser. All I know is, I was drinking Shandies and don’t have an eye infection. She was not drinking Shandies – eye infection.
But the true test occurred on Sunday: A long run – 11 miles – in 90 degree heat after a heartbreaking World Cup finale and a Summer Shandy (or two). I usually don’t run on Sunday afternoon and particularly not after enjoying a beer (or, in this case, a Shandy). Heck, I haven’t even registered for another race yet this year so I don’t even know where the 11 mile plan came from. I picked that number out of my shandy earlier in the week and felt obligated to commit to it.
It was a rough go but it wasn’t the Shandy’s fault. It worked hard trying to keep my insides cool but my pores were pouring out the Shandy as quickly as I could suck it through the Camelbak straw.** Also, my f.p.m.*** was through the roof!
I made it. I dragged back in to my slightly cooler, air-condition-malfunctioning house weary and bleary and dehydrated. Mrs. Nitmos inquired as to the success of my run through her red, infected, Shandiless eyes. I was parched. I was nearly delirious. The only words I could form came out stuttered and choked.
“Okay but I sure could use a Summer Shandy.”
Final Verdict: Summer Shandy, fun to say, but not for everyone. In truth, I’m not sure I’d get it again. It’s not beer… exactly. Next time, I’ll choose more carefully before selecting a liquid refresher.
*This agreement even extends to my father-in-laws favored beer: Blatz. Since he offers, I will drink it when visiting. He is the only person in the known universe that still drinks Blatz. Fact #1: The company only produces 10-12 cases of Blatz a year and it is only sold out of one lonely party store just outside of Interlochen, Michigan. Fact #2: Blatz tastes similar to llama piss if the llama had a severe kidney infection. Don’t ask how I know this. You don't know where I've been.
**Not all parts of this story are true.
***farts per mile