Open Letter to Whoever Drank All the Beer I Left in the Communal Fridge While I Was Scuba Diving in the Caribbean
Dear Person Who Drank All the Beer I Left in the Communal Fridge While I Was Scuba Diving in the Caribbean,
When you take beer that is not yours, there are consequences. Maybe not for you, but for the person whose beer you take. I am here today to share those consequences with the community at large, in the hope that the person who took my beer might read this, understand that their actions had consequences, and get me some more beer immediately. Or perhaps someone who has not yet committed this type of theft but is contemplating it might hear my tale of woe and think twice before they take someone else’s beer. I am here to give voice to the nameless, faceless victim you did not think of when you took that beer. I have a name. I have a face. And I once had beer.
I am an anarchist and I do not believe in the law. I do not believe that such things as law, justice or morality actually exist, but rather that they are concepts invented by those who seek authority to secure and perpetuate that authority. I do not believe in authority in any form. I believe instead in total individual liberty and therefore total individual responsibility, This means that we each have an individual responsibility not to take one another’s beer without asking. I believe that in most cases when wrong is done, if the wrong is not so great as to demand swift vigilante justice, the wrongdoer and the wronged should reconcile in a process similar to “restorative justice.” I’m not sure what that is exactly but my aunt who is both a social worker and a lawyer is heavily involved and I think it can sometimes involve horseback riding. I am writing today about this thing with the beer in an attempt to begin the process of restoring justice. Right now I can say that justice, though it does not exist, can be restored if you buy me some more beer. If that seems a paradox, do not let that paradox stop you from buying me some more beer. But I would also like you to try to come to an understanding of my experience as the victim of your crime.
Before I left for my family scuba diving vacation in the Cayman islands, I left four beers in the communal fridge. I believe I left one of each of my favorite beers that are available at Trader Joe’s in a carefully assembled and personalized multi-pack, in the communal fridge, around which I even built a protective barrier of smaller dairy items in order to camouflage and protect the beer. This multi-pack included one Eye of the Hawk, one Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, one Blue Heron and one Fat Tire. And thus I set off on a 6,000-mile round-trip journey, flying at heights of 40,000 feet in the air and descending to depths of 108 feet under the ocean, all the while secure in the knowledge that when I returned from my journey these four carefully selected beers would be awaiting me.
I carefully selected those diverse beers to complement a variety of snacks I anticipated consuming at some later date, and each beer had a specific purpose and meaning to me. For example, if I am feeling ferocious, or if I am feeling that I need to be more ferocious, or that my snack is in some way prey and that a predatory animal would create a more balanced ecosystem in my belly, I drink the Eye of the Hawk. If I feel that my snack would be especially enjoyable in the city of Chico or the actual Sierra Nevadas, I drink a Pale Ale. If I feel myself to be in need of the guidance of my spirit animal, the blue heron, I drink a Blue Heron. In consuming Fat Tire, I hope to surmount my fear of gruesome bike accidents to become the sort of biking enthusiast the Bay Area seems to demand that I become. Thus, this beer is not merely a beverage but a set of powerful spiritual talismans. You have not merely stolen four beers, but my ferocity, my ability to astrally project to the city of Chico or the Sierra Nevadas, my spirit animal and the possibility of me one day becoming a biking enthusiast.
Today, before heading to the art studio where the communal fridge containing first the aforementioned beer and later the empty space where the beer used to be is located, I made some really killer guacamole. I realized that the two avocados I bought at Berkeley Bowl yesterday were ripening faster than expected and required immediate liquidation. Luckily I had on hand most of the fixings for guacamole, everything but the cilantro, and even a few jalapenos. This was one of those charmed guacs and it came out just awesome. I put the avocado pits in the bowl to preserve the guacamole for the trip to the studio. When I get to the studio, I thought, I will eat this guacamole and drink a beer whilst starting out at the sea and in this way prepare myself for a long night of writing, and this restrained and meditative mini-fiesta will stand in for any other Friday night fiestas I will be giving up to struggle mightily–or is it futilely?–once again in solitude against the blank page, and all the not-blank very rough pages that must be wrestled, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph and finally page by page, into literature, or my mighty–or are they futile?–attempts thereat. And all I asked to fortify me as I set out on this doomed and terrible journey was a single beer from my carefully assembled multi-pack, a single moment of repose in the perfection of my chips, my guacamole, my ocean view–and the appropriate beverage to accompany them. Surely you, fellow artist, must understand this feeling of standing on the precipice of another attempt at the godlike creation of something unique, something no less than a distillation of the best and truest parts of our very souls, something better than that, something better than us, something for which we can only hope to be the mere vehicle or vessel. Surely you can relate to maybe wanting to drink a single beer in a brief moment of repose before undertaking this solitary and daunting task!
Imagine, then, my shock and despair when I opened the communal fridge–guacamole-laden corn chip already in hand, evening sun already sinking into the perfect spot for contemplation–only to find no beer within. Surely someone must have just moved my beer to the door of the fridge to make way for one of these many mysterious large Whole Foods bags that seemed to have propagated in the fridge in my absence, I thought. But the door held only the plethora of scary half-used condiments of the ilk so often found in communal fridges. After a thorough search of the communal fridge–made no easier, I might add, by those many mysterious large Whole Foods bags that seemed to have propagated in my absence–it became clear to me that someone had taken and drunk my entire carefully-assembled multi-pack of beer.
Perhaps this is a karmic payback for the beverages I have taken without asking. I may have drunk a bottle or 400 in my time that was of unknown provenance that actually belonged to someone else, or even known provenance that belonged to someone else. But I have never upset the delicate balance of this particular communal fridge, even the time I was really hungry and all I wanted was cheese and there was a giant block of unopened cheese that I noticed had been there for days. I did not eat that cheese because I thought, “That cheese belongs to someone and if they come and find it gone or depleted they will be so sad and all hell will break loose in the communal fridge and one day someone will take something of mine without asking and I will be the one to get fucked.”
But I got fucked anyway, beer thief and fellow human, because you have no such empathy when it comes to the beer as I exhibited when it came to the cheese. I say empathy, not morality, because I don’t believe in morality. So it is not for moral reasons that I cry out in anguish about this lost beer. It is for reasons involving the failure of empathy, the failure to see and experience the ways in which we are all connected, especially those of us with shared access to communal fridges.
Had you only asked, I would have gladly shared my beer with you. Had you only left one beer–any beer, the Eye of the Hawk, the Sierra Nevada, the Blue Heron or the Fat Tire would have all equally sufficed–I would not have had to eat the guacamole sans beer. I would have shared the guacamole with you, fellow human, fellow artist, fellow user of the communal fridge. I would have shared all the guacamole and all the beer. In fact, as I drove to the studio, guacamole in the backseat, I thought, “That’s a helluva lot of guacamole. I’m gonna share that guacamole with whoever is up there when I get there.” I was thinking of you, studio mate and beer thief, I was wondering if you might want some guacamole. But you were not thinking of me, you never thought of me, and that is what hurts the most about this thing, this thing with the beer.
But even as I ask you to put yourself in my muddied adventure sandals and imagine what it felt like to encounter the unexpectedly and unpleasantly beerless fridge, I, too can put myself in your likely paint-smeared studio clogs, or perhaps photo-chemical-spattered boots, or perhaps video-pixel studded sneakers. (I suspect that whoever took this beer is a visual artist and not a writer, as there are only three other writers whom I just don’t see being big beer drinkers, let alone bold beer thieves.) I can put myself in any of your shoes and imagine a number of scenarios leading to you taking this beer that are not so nefarious. Perhaps you genuinely mistook this beer for your own, though I find that hard to believe. Maybe a uniform six-pack could be innocently mistaken (“Didn’t I leave a six-pack of Sierra Nevada in the fridge last week? Yeah! I did!”), but this multipack was pretty distinctive. Maybe you were already drunk and your friends were visiting and you just needed to keep the party going and were planning to replace the beer and just haven’t done it yet. Maybe you brought some paramour here for a tryst. Since I got this studio, I myself have been waiting patiently for the right moment to utter the words, “Would you like to see my studio?”, waiting patiently for someone worthy of seduction-by-studio, and maybe you indeed found this person, but couldn’t find the corkscrew to open your wine and knew that without some gentle fermented lubrication this tryst you had been long awaiting might not occur, without the smoothing of your jumpy gaze or the steadying of your trembling hands you would never be able to make the move, or sit still long enough for the move to be made upon you, and you took that beer and put it in the pockets of your cargo pants or hoodie and hauled it up to some picturesque spot of which there are many in this beautiful parkland and, I sincerely hope, thus calmed by the beer, took that final sip, swallowed your carbonated burps, put down your empty beer bottle and, with time slowed down just enough by that slightest uptick of alcohol in your bloodstream, inhibition and clear thinking and thought itself diminished just enough by the merciful and non-life-threatening deprivation of oxygen to your brain, let the awkward silence fall that makes way for the elusive moment that ends the anticipation and begins something else, the moment you need not pursue but only invite with the slight alteration of time and mind so easily achievable with a drink or two, and if you used my beer for this purpose then there is no need to apologize or explain or even say so, just know that I wholly applaud you and give you my beer willingly and if you ever find my beer in the fridge again and need it for just this purpose then take it! It’s yours!
(Though maybe if you are repeatedly having trysts at the studio you could maybe make some time in your busy schedule as I have somehow managed to do in mine despite the many demands of impoverished artistic effort and thankless day job not to mention the socialization and regular exercise all humans require to stay sane to go stop by a fucking Trader Joe’s and get your own fucking beer, and, as I am going to do next time, hide it in a mysterious shopping bag so no one else can see that it’s there? And while you are there in addition to buying your own fucking beer you can please replace the beer you so wrongfully took?)
As I was completing this open letter it came to my attention that in addition to my four-beer multi-pack an entire case consisting of a combination of Sierra Nevada Fall Brew and Lagunitas IPA belonging to another user of this communal fridge was also taken in this beer theft. This raises the level of beer larceny from petty to grand. We certainly won’t be involving the park police in this, feds that they are, but the scale of this beer theft now demands an even greater response from the community. Also, our mutual studio mate who routinely spends all night in the bushes surveilling ferocious animals using infrared equipment and makes amazing videos from this footage has just informed me that she had her infrared camera on you the whole time and we know who you are, motherfucker, so replace the beer at once and save our community from collapse!
EMILY MEG WEINSTEIN