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On The Beer

mark wood

by Mark Wood

Summer Afternoon Hooligan

I was unemployed for a brief period once, barely long enough to make a couple of batches of homebrew and enjoy them. On a beautiful summer afternoon my friend Jim and I thought best to sample a batch and ponder our fates.

It doesn’t take long for two guys hanging out in a driveway to attract similar species, so we ended up as a small gang of unemployed ne’er-do-wells bailing back the homebrew, talking trash.

After a couple of hours Jim’s parents came home signalling an end to the festivities and caused the (nice but drunk and unemployed) gang to move on. Everyone except me; I was invited to stay for supper.

Jim and I staggered into the house. He paused in the kitchen to sample the chilli while I was instructed to sit on the couch with his mother who was reading the front section of the newspaper. Jim’s father occupied a large chair across the room with the sports section of the paper.

Jim tried to distract me (he could see me but his parents couldn’t see him) by making faces and trying to make me laugh. I was too far gone for that, probably just barely awake.

Jim’s mother spoke to me, innocently enough, “So Mark, what are you doing these days?”

“Tryin’ to find a friggin’ job,” I replied. (Stronger language than that, I’m afraid, and I’ve always regretted it. But I feel better now after writing it down.)

I didn’t realize what I said right away and I glanced at Jim in the kitchen, he tried to stifle a snicker and was choking on a mouthful of chilli, hot sauce burning his nose.

I knew I was dead.

Missus didn’t reply, Mister cleared his throat and shook the paper. I wished the rust-coloured shag carpet would open up and hide me.

Thankfully, they passed off my indiscretion and we had a fairly quiet meal.

Looking back on the incident I realize now that I failed to switch from “Summer Afternoon Hooligan” to polite supper conversation and it will never happen again.

I’ve had a job ever since and I’ll hang on to it to avoid further embarrassment.

Mark is also a regular columnist with The Independent (.ca) newspaper.