Hippo Manchester
September 15, 2005

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Lending an ear and a beer

Honor the Big Easy by reaching out and making a buddy

By Mike Roy 

It has been two weeks since this column last appeared in the Hippo and, as always, the world around us is constantly changing. Most prevalent in my mind are the horrors of watching Mother Nature wreak havoc through the Gulf Coast. As a former resident of the city of New Orleans it has been extremely hard for me to watch and not feel like part of my heart is being ripped from my chest.

Sitting here writing I have to hold back tears for all the good people of the Crescent City (yes, I do mean good, despite all youíve seen and heard donít let the bad seeds form your opinion about a community of warm and friendly people) whoíve had to abandon their homes and lives. Yet, as I watch all of this, itís hard for me not to think of beer.

I know what youíre thinking: how can I talk of beer in relation to a grim situation like this? All I can say is, itís what I do, itís who I am.

My first beergasm (a.k.a. awakening of my senses) happened at The Alibi on Iberville Street, N.O., in the form of an Ayinger Celebrator. The first pint of Guinness that I was actually able to finish was at The Kerry, the Irish pub on the ground floor of my first French Quarter apartment on Decatur. Lest I forget, though sometimes I wish I could, my first beer from El Salvador was had in the Big Easy. These are nice memories for me, but theyíre not important, because theyíre not what beer is all about.

Beer is not simply a moderately alcoholic beverage made from water, barley, hops and yeast. Itís the dough that forms the bread of our society. Itís the social lubricant that gets the gears turning and allows the doors of introversion to open.

Beer is life.

Beer unites people from all walks of life, age, sex, race, religion, income ó you name it, beer is the glue that can hold things together. No beverage has started more conversations with a complete stranger than a glass of beer. No beverage has taken part in more events in human history then beer. As for me, itís been there in good times, like celebrating an A on a college final or the marriage of a friend, and bad, as itís consoled the loss of someone close. More importantly, as it is in New Orleans, it celebrates the life of the one youíve lost.

When much of this country is moving at hectic speeds, New Orleans culture has taught me to enjoy life for what it is ó donít stress, relax and have a beer. I canít imagine a Louisiana crawfish boil without beer any more than I can imagine one without impromptu singing or dancing when thereís no music playing. Good- natured, friendly and accepting of all ó maybe thereís something we can learn from these people.

Evacuees are being transplanted into many communities across the country, even here in New Hampshire. I ask that we show them some ďSouthernĒ (N.H.) hospitality and offer them a beer. Welcome them as they would have welcomed you, with open arms and a smile. Who knows?  Befriend a southerner and they just might show you some great uses for all that bacon grease youíve been throwing away.

Most importantly, you donít have to make this offer just to a recent transplant. It applies to everyone. Invite your neighbors over for a beer, check in with an old friend or, of course, family. Live a little, get out and buy a stranger a beer, learn a new face, name and listen to a new story. Buying someone a beer is not an invitation to anything, other than a chat and goodwill. A better world has to start somewhere; I suggest a grassroots approach. Offer someone a beer and lend them your ear.

Mike Roy is the brew master at Millyís Tavern at 500 Commercial St. The Beer Cellar appears semi-monthly in the Hippo. If you have any suggestions for future columns, questions or comments on The Beer Cellar send an e-mail to Beergasms@aol.com.