This Bud’s for You, Dad

My father, for most of his life, operated a printing press. He was also a de facto brand evangelist for Anhueser-Busch. The same way some men wear cufflinks, my dad, you could say, wore a Budweiser. When I think of him, I don’t see his face, but rather him gripping a can of Bud.

Of the things my father passed onto me nothing has given me greater pleasure than his love for beer. If it’s truly every parents desire to see their children better off than they, my father should be pleased that by the time I reached legal drinking age, the proliferation of microbreweries was in full-tilt. My generation, unlike his, wasn’t limited to cheap domestic swill or bitter imports with fancy names.

Happy times rose from the muck of fermented hops and, in time, barley malts cemented our bond. That’s not to say there weren’t misunderstandings along the way. Once when I was very young, I guzzled my father’s beer while he used the restroom. When he returned to an empty can, he smelled my breath, spanked my butt and sent me to my room. But as kids usually do, I had the last laugh. Years later he would entice me to visit him with promises of beer, sans the spanking.

My dad, a tall, broad man, drank more Budweiser than most dads. The evidence was abundantly clear each Sunday when, as part of my regular chores, I spent the better part of an evening crushing a mountain of Bud cans, with my dad tossing a few more onto the heap before I completed the task. Each Monday as I sat in class, I could smell the spatter of stale beer wafting up from my sneakers.

My dad’s love for Budweiser was surpassed only by his love for the Chicago Cubs. When I was 10, he took me Wrigley Field. There he purchased a T-shirt from a street vendor with the visage of late Cubs announcer Harry Carey standing next to big block letters that read: Cub Fan, Bud Man. That summer, my father wore the short proudly.

I, too, wanted membership in this elite club of men. Unfortunately, I was too young to guzzle Buds and not quite old enough to swear at the television when the Cubs lost. But I did manage to eke out the small distinction of being the first Cub Fan, Bud Man among my friends.

This status I acquired by wearing the T-shirt to school after pulling it from the hamper. It was an allegiance as good any, but my father, at the time, disagreed. He grounded me after my teacher called to say my attire was inappropriate for school.

Father’s Day meant that my mother’s right to badger my father about drinking too much Budweiser was temporarily suspended. Those days were usually spent at my grandparent’s house. While us kids splashed around the pool, the women sat around looking bored as the men grilled and watched the Cub game.

Father’s Day also presented a lesson in delayed gratification when my dad would save a Bud or two for the ride home rather than drinking them all during the game. Once, after hitting a pothole, he spilled beer all over his lap. After swearing a lot, my father, a logical man, explained that was why people shouldn’t drink and drive. Another lesson learned.

But it was the time alone with my father that I remember best. Budweiser was again a centerpiece of these occasions. He often let me hold his beer as I sat in the car while he picked wild asparagus or mushrooms. Fishing was always fun, too, so long as I didn’t have to carry the 12-pack too far. After helping carry my first full keg years later, I was thankful that my father didn’t drink beer by the barrel.

At the end of the day, he was a better drinker than pitchman. Despite my exposure to Budweiser, my father failed to build the kind of brand loyalty Anhueser-Busch would’ve preferred. I like Budweiser, but I don’t love it. I never buy it, and try my best to never drink it. It’s not that I’m better than Bud drinkers or can’t hang with the best of them. Perhaps it has something to do with me seeing Budweiser not as the beer of champions, but as the backdrop to a cantankerous childhood. Unfortunately, the same is true of the Cubs.

I’m not sure when my dreams of becoming a Cub Fan, Bud Man faded or when I began poaching my father’s beers regularly. I can’t recall the first time we got drunk together, what we did or talked about. I don’t remember how, after years of not speaking, we came to patch things up over beer. We still don’t see each other too often, but when we do, we certainly toss back a few.

Sometimes I’ll joke about him being a crummy dad and he’ll blame me for being a crappy kid. We’ll laugh hard belly laughs and smoke cigarettes until our throats hurt. But so long as there is a cold one within reach, all is well in the family.

This article was originally published at Dane101.com in June 2008.

2 Comments

  1. angela says:

    *sniffles*

  2. Krystal says:

    Such a good story for the day!

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