For most, the experience of their first sip of beer or an alcoholic beverage is when they are underage and it probably wasn’t pleasant, but for me, it was quite the opposite. I was luck enough to share my first sips of beer with my father. It was the summer of 1991, we were in Mexico driving through the hot Sonoran Desert, an area where temperatures can reach 120F; we were making our way to the border city of Nogales from the city of Guadalajara. Like most teenagers, after 20 minutes into our drive, I ran out of relevant things to talk about with Dad, so we were forced to share long periods of dead silence. The iPod didn’t exist at the time and the tape deck was busted, luckily the radio worked, but it meant that I frequently searched for a station on the dial. It wasn’t a fun trip and I would put myself to sleep to avoid the torturous boredom. For most of the two-day trek, we drove alongside vehicles which had California plates, but I noticed this one truck in particular had Arizona plates. When we stopped to refuel and to grab a bite, we would also see the truck with the Arizona license plate, but I don’t recall my father and the other driver share a nod or even a stare. During one of the numerous moments we drove parallel with the Arizona truck, the driver raised a Corona as if to motion if Dad wanted one, Dad accepted. My father and the driver took their foot off the gas, slowed the vehicles down, I lowered the window and the man driving the truck threw a beer our way and I yelled, GRACIAS! I opened the beer and handed it to my dad, he took a big swig and gave it back to me. I held the beer with both hands, it cooled them immediately and it felt like the beer had been sitting in the Arctic before it was carved off the ice and sent our way. Out of nowhere my father said to me, “echale un trago”, give it a sip. It was an awkward moment, as I never expected my dad to offer me a drink, much less at the age of 14. I complied and lifted the cold sweaty bottle of Corona to my lips and took a small sip; it was refreshing and it felt like it instantly lowered my core by a few degrees. I wanted to hand my father the bottle after I took the sip, feeling silly and not knowing how to react, but he asked me to drink again. After the second sip he took the bottle from me, took a long gulp and drank what was left of the beer and threw the bottle outside the window. I don’t remember what was playing on the radio, but I remember him staring down the highway not looking at me asking, “it was good, wasn’t it?” I nodded and sheepishly replied, si. For the remainder of the trip I thought of the taste of beer and how great it felt to hold and drink from a cold bottle.
This is a fond memory and I’ve thought about it often in recent days for a reason, my father has suffered his second heart attack at the age of 82. Since the recent hospitalization and follow up appointments we’ve learned that only 25% of his heart is functioning, that he has an enlarged heart, and a clogged aorta. It sounds like a mess but he’s in very good spirits, alive and kickin’! I hold on to this memory not knowing what’s in store for Don Ignacio, but we all hope to have him around for another 82 years.
Happy Fathers Day, I love you and thank you for those first sips of beer; I toast to your health!
I’m pictured with a Huma Lupa Licious by Shorts Brewing, that post is coming up later today.