Sunday, March 4, 2012

How Milwaukee Best -ed the Champagne.

Why did the Brother of the Bride forego the fine champagne for a Milwaukee's Best toast?
The answer goes back a couple of generations.
Gramps Hayden always had a supply of Milwaukee’s Best (Miller’s economy brew) in the fridge of his tiny 1960s ranch-styled home. A home he reconfigured a bit through the ten years of his five children’s births - and the next decade march to the sons' and daughter's adulthoods.
The fridge squeezed into a tight corner on one side of a narrrow kitchen aisle. Two doors faced each other at the kitchen’s entrance. One of those doors led out to the spacious family-room (an add-on built from the left-over lumber of a relative’s disassembled garage). On Red-Letter Days, three, sometimes four, generations of Haydens could fit in the addition, cans of Milwaukee’s Best dispersed among the adult men.
Just across the  kitchen’s single-step threshold another door led downstairs to the sons’ Boy-Cave-ish bedroom. Four twin bunks outlined DIY- paneled walls on one end of the cellar. A washer and dryer, an array of usual basement stuff, and an old piano cluttered the other. This arrangement secured the upstairs bedroom across from the master bedroom: Baby Sis’s haunt.
Twenty-five years later Mr. and Mrs. upscaled to a big and boxy, four-bedroom cape. But the cape’s large fridge (that still appears almost small in its roomy eat-in kitchen) remained stocked with the low budget Milwaukee’s Best.
Since Conor’s grandfather and father passed in 1998, within six months of each other, Larry’s brothers and sister have raised a red, white, and blue Milwaukee’s Best can  to their memory every Father’s Day. And left one at their gravesites too.
(I can just picture the teen boy or two scouting the cemetery on a cool June night, happening upon one can, and then the other -  a cemetery row or two away - popping the tabs open,  convinced there really is a God.)
Thanks to Conor, at least four generations of Haydens and Mullens, male and female alike, raised their cans of Milwaukee's Best - to the bride and groom  - and the Best who could not be among them.

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