Monday, December 19, 2005

In a Pig's Eye

When I was a young single hipster living alone in Minneapolis, I owned some stock in the now-defunct Minnesota Brewing Co. I was hoping the micro-brew craze would make me a tidy little sum, but the stock just kind of festered.

One good thing about it, though, was that owning stock gave me the right to attend the annual stockholders meeting, held in the basement -- excuse me, the Ratskeller -- of the brewery. The meetings consisted of about 15 minutes of the executives rushing through the numbers (which were never good) and then an hour of drinking all the free beer you could hold.

One year, the brewery hired a new ad agency. They were hoping to raise the profile of one of their brands, Pig's Eye, a pilsner. One of the young guns was chosen to make the presentation to the shareholders about the branding direction the beer was going to take that year. I think this was before "branding" was thrown around like it is now, though.

The vast majority of the shareholders were people who had lived in the neighborhood all their lives, who bottled their water from a spigot on the side of the brewery, who had worked there or who had driven the trucks -- or were married to men who had. They were all of retirement age, mostly of central or eastern European descent, and loved their beer.

So this young longhair gets up, and starts walking us through the new promotion. They new tagline was "Pig's Eye: A Brutally Honest Beer." There were some "hum, hum!" and meaningful looks, but the the longhair plunged ahead bravely.

He held up a mockup for a billboard. It consisted of one sentence, with a small picture of the can of beer. He read the sentence. "'Kemo sabe' is Navajo for 'sopping shrub.' Pig's Eye: A Brutally Honest Beer."

No one laughed. Except for one person who had been fueled by just enough Brutally Honest Beer herself to be amazed all over again that all that Brutally Honest Beer really WAS free, and thinking that the billboard idea really was quite funny.

He held up the next one and read it. Same response: Puzzled and slightly annoyed murmuring, and one cackle from the back.

I wish I could remember some of the other ones. They were all uniformly funny. I'd had just enough free Brutally Honest Beer that after the presentation, which seemed to put everyone in a bad mood, I went up to the longhair and told him that *I*, the only one in the room that was a part of his aimed-for demographic, thought the whole thing hilarious. He seemed to appreciate that, but it was hard to tell because of all the free Brutally Honest Beer he was drinking.

This weekend, John and I made some almond-bark pretzels. I let him turn on the oven for the first time, and he got to put all the almond bark into the pan, and stir it all himself. We were having a great time, when he turned to me and said, "Mom, sometimes, I have more fun with dad than I do with you."

It is testament to my powers as a mom that I didn't immediately go reaching for the Pig's Eye. I figured this was coming from the fact that Matt had a big surprise planned for John that day, and it was weighing on John's mind. (They went to John's first Wild game, woo!)

"Oh yeah, John? Well, Dad's a fun guy. I like spending time with him, too. I married him because he's fun to be around."

"Mmm. Yeah, and sometimes, when it's all four of us out and about, you're kind of crabby."

"Yeah, I can see how that happens sometimes."

"But when it's just me and Dad, we have a really, really good time."


Pig's Eye. A Brutally Honest Beer.


  1. Oh dear!
    May your heart mend quickly.

  2. I loved Pig's Eye. And I know that spigot.

  3. Wow that was a great piece. Good thing that you had the brutally honest antidote to the brutally honest child nearby...

    But I'm sure John talked with Matt the whole way down to St. Paul about how cool it is to make candy with Mom, and why can't he cook like mom?

    Too bad the stock of the last remaining MN brewer to be proud of, Summit, isn't available to the public for our ownership. Then again, maybe it's better that it isn't publicly traded and subject to the cries for swift and incessant growth. Its proud employees recently asked the owners if they could buy into the company and they agreed, so now everyone there, from the bottlers and brewers to the executives, jointly own the means of production.

    A toast to Summit. *clink* Now not just delicious to drink, but the official beer of bloodless MN socialist revolution.

  4. The bloodless MN socialist revolution has a BEER?! Good grief. What am I doing in San Francisco?

    The honesty of children. Bah. Humbug. Why can't they just lie like grown-ups?

  5. Dammit, now I want Summit Pale Ale. And it's 8:35 a.m.

    Damn blogs.

  6. I'm learning about how having a young child is humbling in this way.

    Because there are certainly days, like today, when Mommy just won't do, even for a snuggle. It's "Dada! Dada! Dada!" and a lunging away from me and toward him.

    Of course, there are also days, like yesterday, when the reverse is true.

    But it's fascinating to watch them interact before they understand tact and consideration for others' feelings.

    My best friend became my best friend because she's the only my-age woman I know who still sort of operates that way. It's rude as hell. But it's totally honest and I love her for it.