Sunday, October 23, 2022

One More Beer for Suzi

Suzi O‘Brien was born on the wrong side of the tracks in South Arlington, Virginia and felt like a child of the Great Depression while attending St. Agnes School for Girls (1st to 8th grades), each time she spotted her friends out of uniform, wearing the trendiest fashions from Lord and Taylor and Nordstrom‘s, while she dumpster-dove into the Calvary Baptist Missionary Barrel looking for remnants she could stitch into something vaguely resembling clothes. At Archbishop Denis J. O‘Connor High School, however, she turned outward, stretching her soul and mind away from the harsh realities of Falls Church fashions and mini-mansions, and realized that the majority of Virginians were suffering from a moral depravity they’d never be able to fill. Accordingly, she devoted most of the free time in her junior and senior year to feeding the homeless, mentoring fellow Catholic school illiterates, and briefly abetting the Save the Elephants in Bangladesh Movement. After her priest, Father Chuck, warned her that all Protestants were going to die and go to hell, however, Suzi dropped her affiliation with Youth for Christ and the Billy Graham organization. ―Better safe than rot in hell,‖ she told her x-Protestant friends as she rode her motorcycle to the Blessed Shrine of Immediate Danger to pray for the salvation of wayward Protestants. As an Irish Catholic, Suzi attended mass every day until she ultimately matriculated at William and Mary College. There, in the beat of just one eyelash, she lost her virginity and all her Domino Pizza coupons, while learning to party until dawn, as her Irish roots oozed out of her, three inches longer than her red hair. Within a week, Suzi was declared the freshman class beer-drinking champion and her reputation grew exponentially until she graduated at the bottom of her class. Suzi‘s greatest claim to fame while attending William and Mary was that, in her senior year, she organized the dance hall-sing-along musical revue Beer, Beer, Beer, Beer, Beer, Beer, Beer, in which all twenty-two original songs consisted of the words beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer, beer and forty-seven students did nothing but drink beer for two hours and thirty-seven minutes. The show was a smashing success and Suzi was nominated for (and won) William and Mary‘s prestigious "Most Outstanding Drunk of the Decade" Award (a plague that she still holds near and dear to her heart—regardless of those horrible years as a kindergarten teacher when she had to sip beer out of a cocoa mug at her desk and tell her children that dreadful smell was really Ivory soap.) After serving one year, with nothing but a piece of chalk to protect herself from the screaming banshees, Suzi discovered her inner-inner self by delving into her viscera, looking under the tissues deep inside the marrow, snapped open the cartilage and rescued it. Suzi‘s epiphany was nothing more than a realization of her life‘s ambitions. She heard an inner voice telling her it was her life‘s plan to be a tour guide so she could help the trepid travelers find their way. So, for the ensuing fifteen years, she led school groups on tours of the Nation‘s Capitol. Twice, she even ventured away from the Mall—once by leading a group of eighth graders to Annapolis—and once, by successfully undertaking a trip to Baltimore‘s Inner Harbor, thirty-five miles away because, unfortunately, Suzi gave up driving after that freakish beltway accident in which she plowed into an animal rescue truck that hurled twenty-four crates of skunks into the air, half of which ultimately landed on her windshield. The fact that she was only able to salvage the brand new Mercedes for scrap metal afterwards haunts her to this day.

Even today she's terrified of furry critters, coats, and most boots. (Today, most Virginians still avoid the section of Interstate 95, stretching from the Mixing Bowl to Springfield, because, even though the state spent fifteen years trying to de-scent the black-white-black-white-black-white skunk-smelling highway, there is still a lingering odor perfuming the surrounding air.) Now, other than walking to the nearest liquor store to purchase a twenty-four pack of Miller‘s High Life, Suzi seldom ventures far from home. (Summer and winter, night or day, she has no qualms about venturing out to purchase her suds…a decision that she has never regretted.) For the past nine years, Suzi has kept a small pied-a-terre on Capitol Hill, renting the lower unit of 1829 East Capitol Street, which by happenstance is immediately adjacent to Milton Bradley‘s mansion at 1827 East Capitol Street. The two, along with dozens (sometimes hundreds) of William and Mary friends and Comedy Club hangers-on, get together nightly to drink, play board games (and, yes, Suzi especially loves Milton‘s first game Gooses and Mooses), practice mime, and scream at the locals who piss on their houses, as they attend sports events at the ever-decaying and crumbling RFK Stadium. Next to drinking, Suzi‘s greatest skill is screaming, an art form that she says has been greatly enhanced because of the proximity to RFK stadium. ―You try talking above that fat bald-headed trumpet player and 50,000 drunken fans or try walking across Nineteenth Street in the middle of rush hour when 20,000 people clamor into the Metro, and see how long you keep your sanity.

Suzi has had a crush on Milton Bradley for over fifteen years but is afraid of a commitment. "I‘d love to marry Milty, but I‘m afraid I‘ll end up living away from the city, away from the piss smell and the trumpeter who plays, Hail to the Redskins all night long." Suzi knows she‘d also miss the freedom of being able to walk fifty yards and hop on the Stadium Armory Metro (Blue and Orange Line) and be downtown—to the bars and clubs—in less than eight minutes. She‘d also find it unbearable to leave the region and forgo the pleasure of hanging out at Eastern Market, taunting the cheese lady, to smelling the fresh fish (and hurrying along quickly before she vomited), and five-figuring a few of the knickknacks up for sale at the weekend flea market.

Mostly, however, Suzi would miss the opportunity of kibitzing the tennis games and pick-up basketball games that take place across the street at Eastern High School, and she‘d pine in anxiety if she were unable to direct traffic when the signal got knocked down on the corner of East Capitol and Nineteenth whenever a trash truck (specifically the one with the three-foot stuffed bear screwed on the front grill) rounded the corner and bashed against the telephone pole. Suzi longs for the good old days, when life was free and easy and, as a God-fearing Roman Catholic, she didn‘t have to make her own decisions. Life is so less complicated when you don't have to worry about those egregious things like free will and intellectual freedom.

Perhaps I'll go back to the church…Life was so much easier when the Pope made all my decisions.

Pope. Drinking. Pope. Drinking. Drinking. Pope. Drinking. Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer.

No brainer.

Now Suzi consumes a bottle of Chablis and a twenty-four pack each evening before turning in (the twenty-four packs are harder to lug than the smaller six-packs, but it gives her a sense of assurance and she no longer has to waste time at the Arnold Schwarzenegger Weight Lifting Academy, located on the corner of Seventeenth and East Capitol Streets, across from the Ho Chi Minh Carry-Out.) Perhaps that‘s why she loves Milton Bradley so much; together they can stock their kitchen with a month‘s supply of groceries (nine loaves of bread, fifteen boxes of Velveeta, two boxes of saltines, four boxes of Rye Crisps, and two packs of those plastic knives—the ones that don‘t cut worth a damn but at least you know you‘ll never be arrested if you accidentally stuffed one in your pocket and jumped on a plane).

Some day when I'm drunk enough, or too afraid to scream, Milton will propose and then… Suzi‘s eyes hazed over thinking of her future, forgetting her past, hating the present, wishing for tomorrow, hoping for Milton, afraid of Milton, hoping for a life, disowning her life, wanting Milton, wanting Milton, wanting Milton.

Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer. Beer.

But the Pope, the Christ, the church?

No brainer.

It's just one more beer for Suzi!


Scot Walker is celebrating his 67th year as a published author of stories, novels, non-fiction, poetry, plays, letters, essays and flash fiction. His awards include a Ray Bradbury Fellowship honor along with Flannery O'Connor, L Ron Hubbard, and Thomas Wolfe Short Story awards. He’s also won two Writer’s Digest awards, a Kernoodle playwriting award, three Los Angeles Feedback Film Festival awards, and a McLaren Comedy Play award. His plays have been performed across the United States and Europe. Please check out his work at Smashwords or email him at scotwalker2004@yahoo.com

This piece is dedicated to Scot's muse, Janie O’Connor