SLEEMAN ORIGINAL DRAUGHT—Helping you achieve normalcy

My Fellow Inebriates,

After all that thought expended yesterday on networking-for-playdates, my mum still couldn’t do any better than this when the mother of V’s classmate N phoned:

N’s mum: Hi, I’m N’s mother. We haven’t met but we got your invitation to V’s birthday party. I’m sorry N can’t come.

Our mum: Oh, that’s okay. Thanks for letting me know.

N’s mum: It’s such a cute invitation. N is so sad she can’t go. It’s just that we’re away that week, otherwise we would.

Our mum: Aw, I’m sorry she’s sad. We’d love to have N there. V’s mentioned her before. I think they sit together.

N’s mum: She says V’s her best friend.

Our mum: Oh, that’s so cute!! Well, we’ll have to get them together another time.

N’s mum: That’d be great. As I say, we’re going away, but we can talk when we get back—

Our mum: What about tomorrow? N can come to our house. I can pick her up.

[Awkward pause as this hangs over the telephone line.]

N’s mum: Um, well, we like to meet the parents before we have a playdate. Just to get to know each other…

In playdate terms, Mum had jumped several levels on N’s mum—offering, without ever having met the woman or her husband, to pluck their precious five-year-old out of kindergarten and take her to an unknown house who-knows-where to play with a totally unfamiliar kid and a sibling of unknown age/gender.

It was the equivalent of offering a blowjob on the first date, and my mum realized it as soon as she made the offer.

Despite the gaffe, N’s parents made an effort the next morning to seek V and Mum out at the morning drop-off. Hands were shaken, eye contact made, lame jokes cracked. Whether a future playdate will happen after the customary time elapses…it’s up to the jury.

I thought my mum could use a drink after all that strain—perhaps the SLEEMAN ORIGINAL DRAUGHT languishing in the fridge since summer (i.e., since last week). The last remainder of the Summer Selections mixer pack, its 5% alcohol would surely assuage whatever palpitations early-morning social contact had caused my mother, and maybe I could get a buzz too.

But she said 8:45 a.m. was too early, my fellow inebriates. We had to wait until 5:00.

(Why 5:00? OMG! One day we’ll tackle that.) Five o’clock it must be before we cracked that frosty-cold beer with its light gold hue shining through the clear bottle nestled in the back of the fridge. Five bells, people! Why?

“Because it’s a social norm, LB.”


So how much credibility does this carry coming from a woman whose social sensibilities are so deficient that she figured V’s classmate’s mother would be okay with her simply grabbing the girl after school without so much as a prior introduction?

“When you start drinking in the morning, something’s wrong, LB.”


My DTs were pretty bad today and, despite a few good happenings, which I’ll tell you about tomorrow, it was a tough slog till 5:00. I spent a long time looking at the People of Walmart. I pestered some alcohol manufacturers with random questions. I had a staring contest with Fluffy (he won). Finally the kids came home and wrapped me up in a black scarf like a hostage, then dangled me over a box of stuffed cats. By the time 5:00 came, that beer had ascended to mythic stature, glistening from the fridge.

When we finally poured it, SLEEMAN ORIGINAL DRAFT fizzed into the glass, its head foaming ephemerally then vanishing. The smell is nearly absent: pallid malt with some light grain. Carbonation-wise it’s a miniature Canadian fiesta on the tongue, crisp and snappy alongside a bready sweetness and mild hops. This is a summer beer all right—failing that, a hockey beer—with light refreshment and no demands on the tastebuds. There is no je ne sais quoi. There just isn’t. Which makes SLEEMAN ORIGINAL DRAFT awesome for when you’ve been tortured all afternoon by kids. The stuff is awesome for when you want something normal—failing that, for when you want to play at being normal. And goodness knows we need some practice at that around here.

Out of the mouths of babes: the F-bomb

My Fellow Inebriates,

Miss P dropped the F-bomb at the table last night, paralyzing everyone into several seconds of silence.

Not that it should have been a surprise. Not after six years of overhearing our mother’s losing struggle to rein in blue language. With suburban predictability, however, it did surprise everyone—even four-year-old Miss V, who ceased chattering as the shockwave rocked the table.

I think most adults—even if they cuss occasionally like my parents—fancy themselves pretty much desensitized to the F word, having heard and used it in every context imaginable. But the first time your six-year-old lets it rip, the word erupts across your senses with all the force it had when you first heard it. Maybe more.

Even I, skulking beside the duty-free CAOL ILA 12, was floored.

At six years of age, there’s a reasonable probability of schoolyard exposure to the F word. She may be in Grade One, but P is presumably surrounded by budding miscreants, effing all day long for all we know. But my parents (especially the one laughing uncontrollably) would be disingenuous to claim that P’s primary exposure hadn’t occurred here, at LBHQ.

They did take some reassurance from the context. Even when our parents run their potty mouths, they don’t hurl the F word at one another. It finds its way into exclamations, rhetorical remarks to bad drivers, the odd split infinitive…it gets thrown around omnidirectionally, but it’s never used at anyone. And the way she used it last night…well…they might be able to tell themselves she learned that usage elsewhere.

My friend Scary had been sitting at the far end of the table. He isn’t ordinarily allowed there, but somehow he’d remained invisible until dessert, and he was looking as covetously at the family’s tiramisu as I was looking at Dad’s new whisky. (Okay, I was humping the bottle, but this story’s not about me.) Scary, no longer able to resist, must have sidled a bit closer to the dessert plates and looked accusingly at P. Affronted, she addressed him with chiming clarity:

“Mr. Bear, FUCK OFF.”

It was a moment of failure for our parents. They had failed (1) to shield P from the F word. They had failed (2) to instill its taboo nature. And they had failed (3) to have ready a party line on hard-core swearing from their six-year-old at the table.

Whatever united front their God-fearing neighbors might have pulled together in a situation like this, our parents could not boast one of their own. Dad went quiet (saying afterward he was just hoping the moment would pass), while Mum almost perished with convulsive laughter. Finally she managed: “You mustn’t ever, ever say that at school, okay?”

“I know,” P said, casual as could be.

And that was that.

It wasn’t the first time Scary had elicited a strong reaction. A mangy, apocalyptic, filthy, foraging picnic animal, Scary has difficulty maintaining a low profile. It was a matter of time before someone told him to fuck off.

Perhaps, deep down, my parents saw that—unlike so many bus-station loiterers spilling the F word out both sides of their mouths as verb, noun, adverb, and adjective, punctuating thoughts devoid of significance—P had delivered the F-bomb with impact. Massive impact.

And for that—even if Mum and Dad would never allow themselves to give it to her—she deserved a high-five.