Thursday, August 09, 2007

Bob and the Cider

I have to admit, when I went up to the outskirts of Buffalo a few weeks ago I didn't quite know what to expect. Saunter had assured me that there would be a veritable cavalcade of characters, so when Bob showed up in his truck to help out with the pig roast I was somewhat prepared. Bob is one of those "salt of the earth" types, his family having lived in the area for generations. A tall and lean man, with grey hair and moustache, I was hard-pressed to guess his age. Somewhere over 60, I guessed, but whereabouts I was unsure.

Bob lived close by, and had brought along his truck containing all sorts of tools and implements that might be necessary for a backyard pig roasting operation. I watched and helped document the action as various more qualified people, Bob among them, got busy with details such as lopping off the legs of the pig so it would be able to turn on the spit safely. I was called into action to help carry the pig on its spike into the roaster itself, and with sharp implements out of the way I was able to assist with the rest of the pig preparation.

Once the pig began cooking, after every hour or so we would open up the roaster, put in some more coals and some applewood, and sprinkle seasoning on the pig. Just after 11am or so Bob and I finished the hourly pig maintenance, and found ourselves at a bit of a loose end. We hadn't really chatted as of yet, but Bob instantly labelled himself as a man after my own heart with his next words.

"Are you on beer detail?"

I grinned briefly before replying.

"No, but I can be."

With that I set off for the outside fridge, swiftly returning with two beers. Bob and I sat down in two chairs near the roaster, and opened up the first drinks of the day. Looking after a roasting pig is thirsty work.

Suitably comfortable Bob began to chat about the area, things he liked to do, what he was up to. I discovered that he had five or so boys, most of whom would be coming that evening for the roast. His mum was over 90 years old and still kicking. And he made his own still cider.

Still cider, eh? Colour me intrigued.

Bob promised that he would be bringing some that evening, and I said that I looked forward to trying some.

Fast-forward. The roast is in full swing, as tables of people enjoy the pork that had been harvested by Bob's five sons, from under the watchful eye of Bob himself. I had already partaken my share of food, as well as more than my share of Labatt's, and I was busy playing in an impromptu game of pick-up volleyball. This allowed me to add grass stains to the beer, barbecue sauce, and pig's blood stains already festooning my pants. As late afternoon gave way to night, a bonfire was lit and I retired from volleyball to continue my drinking in earnest. I made my way to find Bob, and informed him that I thought it was high time to try some cider. He agreed, and I went with Saunter's soon-to-be-brother-in-law to find it.

After lugging back the extra-huge Gatorade bottle the cider was stored, we carefully poured the cider out into three plastic cups. Raising it in toast, I took my first speculative sip. The drink was cool and tart... and most definitely alcoholic. Bob, however, was starting to show a few signs of being worse for wear; apparently during the afternoon when Saunter kidnapped me for a whistle-stop tour of Buffalo the soon-to-be-brother-in-law and Bob had retired to Bob's place for some afternoon drinking. Good man.

"That's enough for me, but you boys should finish that off."

Bob gave us the direction firmly, and we two boys looked at the cider, looked at each other, and shrugged. Who were we to argue? Before too long Bob informed us that we was completely shit-faced, and staggered off to walk home. As for us? Well, we had cider to drink.

And that's how I ended up putting myself away on home-stilled cider. The next morning I woke up feeling as clear as a bell, which I found mildly amazing. I was also aware, in the cold light of morning, that I had been way drunker the night before than I thought I had been at the time. If nothing else cider had amplified my ineptitude during my first ever game of Euchre, as Saunter and I were punished by Tim and Tom the twins. On second thought, I think I just sucked... but I sure as hell was drunk while doing it.

Bob appeared again the next morning, before we headed off to the airport to return home. He looked fine, at least as well as I felt. He shook my hand heartily and informed me that the next time I came up we'd have to have a real drinking session.

I'm sure it will involve still cider. I may need to practice.

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