Just That Way










Laugh and say, ‘He’s just that way.’
by Roger Baylor

(As we prepare to celebrate Louisville Craft Beer Week whilst indulging in a healthy squabble over its terms of engagement, it’s important to remember that you’re entitled to my own opinion)

I’ve been reminded by a good friend that some years ago, while pulling duty at the Public House bar, I made a comment to the effect that 50 years of age would bring a very special personal benefit, one extending far beyond the discounts promised by AARP.

Specifically, I ventured that the half-century plateau would commence old age, and with it a time when people no longer would consider my thoughts and words as emanating from an obnoxious, self-centered, up and coming firebrand.

Rather, as officially rendered into an old man, I’d be liberated from responsibility by virtue of the irrelevance and harmless eccentricity engendered in lives lived past their prime. Instead of, “I’ll never speak to you again, asshole,” I’d get, “why, aren’t you the cutest geezer I’ve ever seen!”

In retrospect, it isn’t entirely true. As a geo-political example, Fidel Castro is about 90, our State Department still hangs on his every word, and he absolutely ceased being cute during probably the fifth or sixth of eleven American presidents he has seen inaugurated.

Also, there are things one should never to say to his mate, irrespective of age, while magically trusting in an immunity granted according to doddering infirmity.

Still, I find a certain merit in my youthful utterance, and having both acknowledged it and arrived at the requisite chronological plateau, I’m finding the acceptance of my decline into mere eccentricity a tad more difficult than first imagined. In terms of my relationship with beer, both as proclivity and career, perhaps it made sense once to “fade” before I got old, yielding turf with grace and aplomb. Now, this strikes me as difficult.

In fact, I propose not to do it at all. A seasoned, experienced hand is needed at the helm, to assist in guiding the revolution he helped launch. I’m the perfect man for the job, and so there’ll be no discussion of mandatory retirement ages.

Obviously, rambunctious youth never pays heed to the undeniable experience of past generations, and that’s entirely understandable, primarily because human biology insists upon it. If young people in full hormonal flower truly paid close attention to the wisdom of their elders, the world’s birth rate would plummet.

They’d ask: Why work now and retire when you’re too old to enjoy it?

They’d spend far less time drinking bad beer, as cheap alcohol no longer would be necessary to mitigate the disappointment of sexual rejection, the stress of dead-end jobs, or the cacophony of crying babies.

How do I know this? It’s simple. I lived it. When I was young – when all of us were young – every discovery was judged utterly unique and without parallel during the earth’s long previous tenure. I try not to spend an inordinate amount of time these days recalling how genuinely clueless I was the vast majority of the time, back when I was in my twenties, then even later, as a thirty-something, and right up to the day before yesterday.

Except that the day before yesterday I was 51 years, one month and thirteen days old; overall, while still clueless, now at least being able to look back on many useful experiences and enough pure knowledge gleaned to realize, conclusively, just how very much I still don’t know, and never will know … and, as documented earlier, having reached the status of old man, eccentric, harmless, and cute as hell.

You’ll say: It seems that Roger is trying to have it both ways, and in the end, having my beer and drinking, too, is precisely my goal for the future.

I shall not be going peacefully into this proverbially long night. At times, I will be cantankerous and belligerent, and can be trusted to honor the spirit of the dialectic by being a complete pain in the ass at certain junctures. There’ll be mood swings and short-term memory losses, drunkenness and sobriety, brilliant observations and lamentable faux-pas. With me, all of it comes up front. Love it or hate it, I’m me.

But, whether you’re a whippersnapper, superannuated, or anywhere in between, please grasp this central point:

My being crotchety, or disagreeing, or expressing conflicting points of view, or taking care of number one, does not mean that you’re being targeted, or disrespected, or attacked, or dismissed, especially if the topics are beer and the business of beer. I am still recommending you, still touting you, still appreciative of your part in the rising tide of better beer.

Trust me. If I’m not in your corner, you’ll know it. Now, let’s go out there and enjoy great beer. That’s why we’re here, after all.