POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER—Refreshment for a cruel world

I had a rare ride-along with Miss V today after while her sister was in school. These outings take ages; V likes to examine everything minutely and scatter every dandelion in sight. Nothing escapes her notice.

About halfway home she stopped to watch a centipede being attacked by ten or so ants. Completely beset, the victim struggled to wriggle away from its tormenters, which were presumably trying to incapacitate it, eat it, and/or take it to their queen.

Watching that centipede thrash helplessly from belly to back was pretty gross. I wondered how long the battle would last. Were the ants biting it? Would it eventually pass out in agony or remain unconscious while they vivisected it? The process seemed extraordinarily cruel and drawn out—and for animals with short lifespans, I wondered morbidly, is there a time-dilation effect? Does a day feel like a month to a centipede, being such a large percentage of its lifetime compared to ours? How protracted, then, is its perceived suffering?

V said she hoped the ants would win. She watched intently as the belly-up centipede failed to right itself while the ants went at it mercilessly. There was no help for it.

Only when V remembered she’d been promised a cookie at Save-On Foods did she, still rooting for the ants, acquiesce to leave the inundated creature.

You almost have to have a four-year-old tour guide to notice stuff like this. The insect world teems below us in unfathomable populations. For every ant-on-centipede onslaught above ground there must be trillions below—uncountable insect cruelty and indifference. For every beleaguered arthropod or unenviable piece of spider prey there must be further infinities of predation, pain, and suffering.

I suddenly felt very small and overwhelmed. The whole planet seemed churning with barbarism, mostly going on unnoticed.


And the hard reality dawned on me:

If the whole world—universe even—can remain indifferent to the excruciating death throes of one small creature, how can I expect anyone to give me a beer just to assuage a few tremors?

The thought swept me up like a bus full of evolutionary biologists. Not only did I feel very small; I felt very alone.

In a world of impassivity toward suffering, who would even think to give me a beer?

It wouldn’t even have to be a special beer. Whistler Brewing Company’s POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER, one of the four offerings in its Travel Pack, would do just fine.

Pale straw-gold with bright white foam and firework effervescence (think Pop Rocks), this lager was an unlikely beer in our fridge. My parents never buy lagers except when they’re part of exciting mixer packs, and invariably those lagers get drunk last. But they’re certainly welcome at LBHQ, particularly as Langley enters earth-scorching season and the sun proceeds indifferently to flash-fry earthworms on the ground.

POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER has a light and slightly hoppy aroma with a touch of background sweetness, all of which is practically unnoticeable amid a refreshing carbonation frenzy. It’s a party in the mouth, this lager, berserk with fizz, but unlike some lagers and particularly some other Whistler Brewing Company products, it has a surprisingly substantial mouthfeel yet finishes cleanly.

There are plenty of unsatisfying lagers on the market offering simple CO2 pyrotechnics as a fill-in for flavor, but POWDER MOUNTAIN LAGER deserves credit for being a bit more. I bet a crisp, icy-cold glass right now would alleviate my anxieties about being a small bear in a big, cold universe, plus it would take care of my DTs.

I did propose this to my mum, who said, unfeelingly:

“Get a grip, LB, it’s 9:00 a.m.”

Queerer than we can suppose—Q&A with the kiddies

My Fellow Inebriates,

I fell asleep huddled among the empties last night, which meant I was in the kitchen for the following breakfast conversations.

V: Mummy, did the Easter Bunny write my name on this Kit Kat bunny?

Mum: Yup.

V: Oh. Because I thought you wrote it.

Mum: Nope. And it’s not for eating right now.

V: I know that. The puppy knows everything.

Even though V likes to refer to herself in the third person, her bullshit meter is sharp. My parents will get away with Easter Bunny activities for another year maybe, if that—and it won’t be their eldest who drops the bomb; it’ll be four-year-old Miss V.

▪ ▪ ▪

If you’ve ever tried to get a grade one and a preschooler off to school by 8:31 (yes, union regulations dictate that school starts not at 8:30 but 8:31), you know what a scramble it is. I’m not usually awake for it, but since I’d made my nest among the beer bottles, I had a listening post.

P: Mummy, do we believe in God?

Mum: Well, you can if you want, it’s up to you. What do you want, cereal or toast?

P: I mean, is God real?

Mum: Well, a lot of kids in your class probably go to church, right?

P: Uh huh. Do we go to church?

Mum: Nope. Cereal or toast?

P: Why not?

Mum: Because it’s totally boring. You have to sit still for, like, an hour and be really quiet.

P: I think I’ll believe whatever you believe.

Mum: That’s usually the way it works in families. But it’s up to you. Cereal?

This isn’t as negligent as it sounds. If P really wanted to go to church, my mum would find a churchgoing acquaintance to take her. And then she’d bore the shit out of the kid deconstructing the whole thing afterwards. My mum loves religion. She just doesn’t believe in it.

▪ ▪ ▪

P: Mummy, why do grown-ups smell?

Mum: Like, why do they have body odor and bad breath and stuff?

P: Yeah.

Mum: Well, it all comes down to hormones. Where are your shoes? Grab your shoes.

P: Hormones?

Mum: Yeah, body odor is all about territoriality and mating. Got the black shoes?

P: Mating?

Mum: Yeah, you know, because humans are basically animals, and animals like each other’s smells; that’s why they mate. Three minutes, guys, we gotta go.

P: You mean, like get together?

[And P mimes a big hug. Three minutes is not enough to get into this.]

Mum: Kind of like getting married—animals getting married. They like each other’s smells so they get together and have babies. Just like Daddy and I have babies. Got your shoes? Okay, which jacket?

P: Oh, but Daddy has showers so he can smell good.

Mum: I know, isn’t it awesome?

▪ ▪ ▪

Whatever contradictions manage to coexist in our brains, the kids’ questions do not stop. Get this one.

P: Mummy, is LB real?

Mum: Of course he’s real. Look at him.

P: I mean, is he alive?

Mum: Yeah. Of course.

P: But he’s a stuffie!

Mum: A what?

P: He’s a stuffed animal.

Mum: Oh. Then how did he wink that day when we bought him?

P: But he doesn’t move.

Mum: Sure he moves.

P: No, you move him!

Mum: What are you talking about? That’s crazy.

P: Mummy!

Mum: He’s perfectly real. There’s a whole construct called “LB.” He’s as solid an idea as anything else. The notion of LB exists, and the people around him support it.

[At which point P is moved to hug yours truly. This either represents a point for a mother trying to score points off her child, or the indulgence of a child who knows her mother is batshit crazy.]

Mum: Stranger things are believed in by more people based on a lot less evidence. LB has a blog. Of course he exists.

[And then she makes it weirder.]

Mum: I even saw a bunch of little bears that look just like LB in Save-On Foods. Just like him, only really small, for $2.99. They’re probably his offspring.


(While walking to school)
V: Mummy, I wish that person wouldn’t leave dog shit all over the ground.