You may have wondered what a nauseated, sleepy, emaciated person does for a social life. Well, mostly he answers email. Occasionally, to spice things up, he may send a text. But the old fashioned soul-in-a-room-of-other-souls kind of hobnobbing kind of goes by the board when cancer comes to town. The hermetic gene starts expressing itself and you really don't get out much anymore.
Next week, I'm teaching two classes. There's a beer tasting in Mt. Airy (Trappist Ales) and a lecture on Gastronomy and Culture at Atlantic Cape CC. Aside from the demands on stamina, I'll have to revive whatever social skills I once faked and remember how to be with groups of people again.
So my good fortune this week is to have two nights out. Last night, I sat in on Andrew Gilmore's seminar on cartoons from the pre-Hayes Code era. We looked at Betty Boop and Popeye. (Actually, we sort of ogled. Boop would have seduced Charlie Sheen, Popeye would have punched him out.They both would have done it for the sheer fun of the thing.)
Tonight, our neighbors Harry and Sara declared the First Night of Porch Season. It's a very big deal here in Philadelphia and so we sidled on over with snacks and a winter-full of repressed neighborly conversation. I brought a growler of homemade beer-a Saison that I brewed before the nasty diagnosis. The batch has been untouched for about eight months and sitting quietly thinking about itself in J's cool cellar. It was copper-colored with a passable head and a spicy-earthy nose. In the mouth, well-in my mouth it was clean and rich with a slightly toasted, full-on malt presence and a crisp mouth-watering finish. You could smell the pilsner malt and the tad of biscuit that went into it. Very easy to drink.
In fact, what with chewing being so difficult these days, it was easy enough to drink dinner. My neighbors thought so too and we ended up drinking two 2-liter growlers: one refrigerated, the other at cellar temperature. Nobody complained about warm beer, no one thought the color was odd and a few folks thought that they might want to brew something themselves.
So now, for next week I have stirred up some images. I can tell people about how Social Structure (the code) effects Culture (the cartoon). I can use that as a foil to talk about how Napoleon's spanking the monasteries ultimately led to Trappist Ale. That may lead me to talk about the cute little way we have of letting ourselves slide back and forth between different meanings of the same word without even noticing. (I was going to use a trombone to illustrate the point, but Betty Boop is Better. I mean better.)
Then I also have the example of a bunch of people on a twilight porch drinking a very unconventionally colored and flavored beer. Nobody cried about the color, nobody said that the taste was weird-with the lights almost out there was only the flavor and the flavor made friends.
Damn, it's good to get out.