The imperfect smile of beer

About to ’gram that beer and post it online? Don’t. Beer, like punk, like the beer-drinker, is imperfect and that’s the way Jessica Mason likes it

 

I’ve poured out a beer and set it upon the table beside its bottle. And, although I can tell that this composition is visually pleasing, my lonely beer looks back at me, despondently. The shadow, created by the glass and the sunlight from a nearby window is beautiful. No one can deny that. Aesthetically, the scene is perfect. So perfect in fact that I immediately photograph it.

But beer isn’t about all of this, is it? It isn’t about staged images. Beer is the opposite. It’s chaotic enjoyment. It’s chatter. It’s the spill of a pour. Or the way a flavour can linger and dance on your tongue and provoke a memory or a thought that can make you stand up, leave a room or talk and talk and talk with enthusiastic glee. 

Beer is not a flat image. It is too multi-faceted for filters. It’s the eye contact made over clinked glasses. It’s the start of the evening. It’s the end of the night. A comfort for a lonely heart. A day trip for the taste buds. Beer has the unique quality of reflecting real life (with all its ups, downs and sideways glances) with a fistful of emotions that can raise a smile. It isn’t neat, or preening. It’s why I like it so much.

So, I destroy the scene. And, suddenly, with its positioning now not being choreographed for anyone else but me, it makes me beam an anarchistic grin. My glass leaves an imperfect ring of wetness upon the table. And, I put some music on. Loudly. I’ve heard it once said that imperfection is a form of freedom. And it is something that I can’t seem to forget.  

I’m not keen on sparseness. I find it lacks the authenticity of the accidental. I find it clinical. And a little contrived.  Others, I know, find clean empty spaces calming. Orderly, in fact. Some say that kind of thing helps them to relax. But that isn’t the case with me. I’d rather loll on a battered sofa than perch upon a high stool. And I wonder — am I part of a misfit generation? Part analogue, part digital: a contumacious anachronistic punk. Someone who longs for the confines of an old boozer more than the pretension of bar glamour. A place where things make sense.

I miss the winding of spools on that once much-loved mix tape. Or doctoring the errant tear in a cigarette paper with careful Rizla origami. I look for the imperfections. Always. Because, I want to see life in everything. In beer. In people. I want the unvarnished truth. The unfiltered and the honest.

I look around my tiny kitchen and it makes me smile. Pans hang, books crowd shelves, the wooden table surface is uneven. An immortal voice belts out gravelly lyrics from a nearby speaker. There is distortion. All of it is over-the-top delinquency.

And my beer waits. Its head quivering amidst the din. It looks appealing. And I love this beer, I really do. It’s asymmetrically exquisite. Soft and full. Rich and moreish. All the contradictions. 

Pour yourself a beer now. Any favourite beer.  Your favourite beer. And reread from the top. Each time a sentence begins with a word someone might have declared against the rules of grammar, take a sip of your beer. And allow yourself a mutinous grin. 

Because we’re renegades. The lot of us. We are rule-breakers. We are beer drinkers. And, sometimes, simple is dull. And tasteful is, paradoxically, empty. And it is no bad thing to crave a little florid complexity now and again. Especially if it keeps life interesting.