Remembering Glen

My Fellow Inebriates,

Today Scary and I resigned ourselves to the worst. Our good friend Glen, family member since 2004, is not here. He’s not in the house. He’s not at school. He’s not at a neighbor’s. He’s not at Nana & Papa’s. He’s just gone.

What made him leave, we’ll never know. Perhaps if we’d noticed, we could have stopped him. But, heavily insulated as he is, he padded out of LBHQ unheard and unseen, and disappeared forever.

Scary says he’s probably been shot with a crossbow. He says that’s what happens to polar bears who enter Walmart-shadowed suburban areas. No one would have called the SPCA, but somebody with a big-ass truck and a hundred tats would have jumped on the chance to take down an amazing animal like Glen.

Glen.

Glen as a baby, 2006

Good-bye, then

Good-bye, Glen

Good-bye bear bounding off to his den

Good-bye, sir

And his winter fur

Good-bye paws

Good-bye claws

Good-bye cuddles

Good-bye snuggles

Good-bye tumbles

Good-bye bumbles

Good-bye pounces

Good-bye bounces

Good-bye furry mug

Good-bye old lug

Good-bye to the bear we used to hug

♥ ♥ ♥

Said Scary:

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“Of my friend I can only say this: Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…ursine.”

 ♦  ♦  ♦

Said Blackie:

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“I can’t ever drink vodka again. Vodka was Glen’s favorite. It’s just too painful.”

 ◊ ◊ ◊

Said Carnivorous Duck:

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“You had it right the first time. I ate him.”

Rest in peace, Granny (please)

My granny died one year ago today. She was cremated, and then the cremains were buried, which is kind of like doing things twice and costs about twice as much. Not that anyone begrudges Granny; she had a tough life and a slow death.

Cremation is great for people who are afraid of being accidentally buried alive. My long-dead Granddad had a big fear of this and probably should have been cremated; but in 1985 Catholics still hesitated to cremate their deceased, so into the ground he went, although the medics did ransack his body for salvageable organs (just eyes, it turned out—his esophageal cancer had metastasized everywhere, disqualifying any other organs for donation).

Of course your relatives still might put you in a bacon casket.

Burial is great if you’re concerned about your dignity and the possibility that your survivors may do frivolous things with your ashes, such as use them for artwork, put them in the kids’ sandbox, or consume them in some sort of ritual. Vouchsafing your corpse into the ground is the best bet if your relatives have any whackjob tendencies, although all bets are off at the wake.

Whether Granny harbored either of these paranoias is unclear. What I imagine is that she—always one to say yes—agreed to both cremation and burial while talking deliriously to two different relations, who then compared notes and felt she’d specified both. Or who knows—maybe she did want both.

The greater point in all this is: You’d think, by opting for both cremation and burial, that you’d be doubly sure of making yourself gone after death. What no one thought of checking was whether the soul—that 28-gram essence that once untethered seems to be able to do whatever the hell it likes—had a nearby vessel to scoot into when Granny’s heart stopped beating. Did anyone notice Fluffy sitting on her dresser drawer???

This thought occurred anew last night when—promptly at midnight—something in the house went THUMP! Not a little bump like the settling of a 1980s-era house, but the sort of big-ass THUMP that makes you think your dad may have slain that garbage-scavenging raccoon and started hurling its carcass gratuitously against the outside wall of the house. But there was just one THUMP! At midnight. On the anniversary of Granny’s death.

My dad wasn’t home yet, so there was no chance he could be outside braining a raccoon. I sat up in the dark with my fur on end. Fluffy, two bears away on the couch where we’d been tucked in under a pink blanket, was evidently playing dead. I heard my mum shuffle out of bed and rustle the window blinds, then wander around investigating. Beeps on a cellphone keypad. A drowsy conversation. Then quiet.

She knew she could go back to sleep because it was just Fluffy. He may look like nothing more than one of Chuck Testa’s less successful taxidermic experiments, but he’s the vessel. He’s the vessel Granny jumped into when she died. And the two of them, bear and 71-year-old cancer victim, decided to announce themselves at midnight.

We wouldn’t have this problem if it weren’t for the scourge called cancer. First Granddad in 1985: esophagus, lymph, liver, the works. Then Granny: lungs, back, liver, lymph…riddled. Months of hopeless treatment…surgery, chemotherapy, radiation…it made them suffer. Cancer treatment sucks.

So if all these Movember staches haven’t reminded you yet, why not head over to the doctor’s office for that overdue prostate probing? If you don’t have a prostate, scooch down in the stirrups for your yearly check-up. And while you’re there, get your doctor to check any other cancer hot spots. When you get your clean bill of health you can drink a toast. And I’ll drink one with you. (I’d join you for the physical too, but I don’t have an anal cavity.)

I never knew my granddad, but I miss my granny. She was very soft-spoken and gentle, and she was the kind of person who talked to bears.

I think I hear her telling me to have some Chardonnay.

BIG ROCK DUNKELWEIZEN—Drink it quickly, even if the ball won’t drop again

Score another point for the Mayan calendar: With the End of Days imminent and presumably no more Times Square big-ball drops remaining, there was no longer any earthly use for the famously well-preserved Dick Clark. Dead of a heart attack at 82, Clark leaves our little blue planet hurtling toward the apocalypse without his squeaky-clean morals to guide us.

Even though Dick Clark mainstreamed the devil’s music, he drew the line at Elvis’s public thrusts, requiring the King to be filmed from the waist up during his American Bandstand gig, and thus rescuing American teenagers from thinking about bumping, grinding, or sex. Clark’s death is a sad blow for the American right wing with which he was so proudly aligned.

James Brown is dead.
He looks happy, though. —AP Photo

Celebrity open-casket shots are rare, and if the news is correct, Clark has already been cremated, leaving the world to wonder what he must have looked like in repose. Doubtless he looked charmingly waxen, if not happy, the way James Brown did.

Caskets really creep me out. After searching in vain for a picture of Dick Clark dead or in a coffin and finding all kinds of other freaky things instead (a child’s Hello Kitty coffin, OMG), I needed a drink. Lucky for me there was one beer left: BIG ROCK DUNKELWEIZEN DARK WHEAT ALE.

As you know, my fellow inebriates, if a beer is the last beer in the house I am absolutely going to drink it, and this was the case with DUNKELWEIZEN, even if I wasn’t crazy about it being a wheat ale. I’ve never found a hefeweizen I loved, mainly because of their light citrusiness, but I thought a dark wheat beer might be different. And it was.

DUNKELWEIZEN is a lovely dark color with a garnet tinge and a fizzy white head. Billed as a blend of five distinctive malts, its aroma is rich and toffee-like with espresso predominating. Malty sweetness hits the tongue first, then unmistakable coffee, chocolate, and vanilla notes. These flavors are none too subtle, mind you; they tend to redouble with each sip and stick to the palate, making the beer less refreshing than it could be.

That having been said, DUNKELWEIZEN is drinkable. I could pound six of them if I needed to—say, if the Canucks were getting reamed and I felt sad. The mouthfeel isn’t terribly heavy, the alcohol percentage is an acceptable 5%, and the flavors are harmonious, even if they do suggest a Big Rock–Starbucks collaboration.

Like a lot of beers that aren’t perfectly right, low temperature is essential to enjoyment of DUNKELWEISEN. Give it ten minutes in the freezer prior to opening, drink it quickly, and you’ll probably love it—the deeper flavors won’t have a fighting chance to punch through the icy cold. But if this beer is allowed to sit, those heavy flavors get a bit rowdy and start behaving like coffee instead of beer.

A beer that needs to be slammed back quickly is not a bad thing. I feel a bit guilty pounding a really sublime beer fast so I can get loaded, but DUNKELWEIZEN lends itself to chugging. So I did pound the bottle, forgetting that it was the last beer in the house, which made me melancholy and prompted me to look at coffin pictures again.

Check it out, it's Elvis.

This one doesn't have anybody in it, but it is decorated with a bacon motif.

This one has Kim Jong-Il in it.

A wine-themed casket. Way to show people you loved life.

There goes Whitney Houston.

Would Dick Clark have liked this gay-themed coffin?

Going out in style, Michael Jackson.