I was exercising my memory the other day by remembering “first times.” Stop. Not going x-rated. I was “measuring” the odd aspects of life that I had chosen not to completely forget. For example, why would I remember the first time I drank a Guinness? Here are some details.
The legal drinking age was 18 in Staten Island, New York back in 1969—21 in the neighboring state of New Jersey, my stomping grounds. So my pack of friends routinely journeyed to the “Island” for evenings of watered-down tap beer. This is how I was raised: ice cold yellowish beer with very little head.
When I turned 21 and the beer was at my feet, so to speak, I still went with the Bud-like beers: Pabst Blue Ribbon, Schlitz, Miller and the Bud family. I remember when drinking Michelob, a Bud beer, was considered “high-class”.
Then a girl who had won my heart and everything else coaxed me into driving 250 miles to Cambridge (Harvard) to try the Ivy bars. And so, on a Friday afternoon with snow piled four-feet high on the sides of the streets along the Charles River, I had my first Guinness. She told me it was different and best if not served ice cold. She was right on every count. I remember the wood table we sat at—her face isn’t clear now, but the dark stout in a tall glass is looking right back at me.
I’m having a Guinness now.