Pop sat down at the kitchen table after a hard day’s work, ready to drink a beer and chat with my mother, who was cooking dinner. The moment he pried off the bottle cap with an opener, they heard a “…crunch!-tinkle-tinkle…” come from his hands.
Mom turned towards Pop, who sat there staring down at his right hand. There in his palm were the shards of the bottle neck, along with the cap and the opener.
“And now what did you do?” Mom asked. “Did you just cut yourself?”
“I didn’t do nothing,” Pop muttered, staring at his bottle in disgust. “I’m fine. Lost a whole beer, though.”
He threw it all away and got out another bottle. “That’s the damnedest thing,” he muttered, “all I was doing was…crunch!-tinkle-tinkle…”
Mom, hands on hips, “Did you just do it again?”
Pop: “Hell, Jane, I didn’t do nothing!”
Mom: “You don’t know your own strength, with those hands of yours.” My father did have a pair of hands the size and delicacy of a pair of lobsters, but he did know how to open a beer without killing it.
By the third lost bottle, my father was beside himself. The family budget allowed Pop one case of beer a week, which came to about three beers a night, and he just went through a full day’s drinking without enjoying a drop. A quick inspection of the case discovered that most of the bottles were damaged around the neck. Pop was upset (he liked the word “hot”) and Mom said she would call the liquor store to see what was what.
So, Mom called 9.0.5 Liquor Store and complained. “…here’s the poor man himself, just trying to enjoy his little bit a beer and cigarettes, and all he gets is broken glass in his hands…”
Over the phone, we can hear a man saying “…yes, ma’am….yes, ma’am…no, ma’am…” trying to get a word in edgewise, but Mom having none of it and taking him the full three rounds.
Finally, she gets off the phone. “He says he’ll talk to the boss and get it straightened out. It’s after five, though, so nothing will be done today.”
My brother Denny, who was about six at the time, said, “Ok…does that mean we can eat now, Mom?”
The next day, Saturday, there was a knock at the front door. Pop peeked out the window, thought for a second, then roared, “Oh, Jane! Someone’s at the door for ya!”
Mom bustled to the front door and opened it. Standing on the stoop was a man in a chauffer’s suit and cap, holding a case of beer in his hands. At the curb sat a Cadillac about the size of an air craft carrier.
“Mrs. McGrane,” the man said, “this is a case of beer compliments of the 9.0.5 Liquor Stores. We apologize for any inconvenience about a damaged product.”
Dumbfounded, Mom took the case, the man tipped his hat, and he left. A number of neighbors were outside mowing their tiny lawns or washing their cars, but had all stopped to watch the Cadillac with the chauffer drive away, then they all silently looked at Mom, who stood at the doorway holding a case of beer.
Mom was back on the phone with 9.0.5 in about 30 seconds. “…and just what do you think you’ve done?,” she wailed, “Now people will think my husband’s a drunk who has his beer delivered to the door like it’s milk, for the love a God!….”
As Mom jabbered into the phone, making certain that no good deed went unpunished, Pop told my brother Harry, “Put that case in the fridge for me, and bring me back a bottle. Open it up for me, though. I’m not touching the opener again.”