My father was not much of a drinker. However, in the summertime he would have a beer once in a while. Sometimes after he mowed the lawn he’d go into the garage and grab a Rolling Rock pony from the extra fridge and then sit down on the patio on one of the thick, wooden patio chairs with the floral cushions and mop the sweat off his head with his handkerchief and sip his Rolling Rock.
I don’t know why my father liked one of the most inexpensive beers made- he had lived in Germany and tasted many different kinds of good beers, he was on the PLCB which took him to many bars where I’m sure he had access to better beers. And my grandfather only drank Heineken so we frequently had a six pack of that in the fridge, too. But no, my father was dedicated to his Rolling Rock.
When my father wasn’t looking, I would sneak sips of his beer. It was mainly because he said no alcohol until I was 21- in his house or out. So of course because it was verbotten, I had to have it. And it tasted awful. As did the Heineken, but my grandfather, being from Italy where age is irrelevant for having a drink, would offer a few sips to me or pour me a mouthful in a paper cup at barbecues. “It won’t hurt ya,” he’d say, while making sure my father was nowhere near us. It didn’t taste any better than the rolling rock and maybe even worse, because I wasn’t sneaking a sip. On the occasions when my father caught me sneaking a sip (I really just liked the foam, to be honest), I would give him my cute cheesy smile that meant “I’m too cute to get smacked,” and my father would pretend to be angry with me but then shoo me away from his beer. He also maintained that ladies didn’t drink beer, so that may be the reason I never acquired a taste for it.
This Thanksgiving, however, I decided we should toast my father, since it was the first holiday without him. My husband ingeniously came up with the idea to toast with Rolling Rock. We poured a half of a glass for everyone, and I made the toast, reminding everyone that Rolling Rock was the only beer we had ever seen my father drink- at home at least- and we raised a glass. I have to say, that beer tasted like my youth- memories of stolen sips in the summer and pretend scoldings and time spent with my father- it was a sweet memory and I hope that if my dad was watching, that he raised his Rolling Rock pony in heaven at the same time.