Riding With the Captain

Today’s the work Christmas holiday party.

I remember the old days, when the company would rent some grand hall and supply enough food and booze for a Russian army regiment.

Then, the more recent days, when companies did without the holiday get-together entirely, a victim of the recession and, likely, those sexual harassment lawsuits paid out when senior managers got a little too frisky with the holly.

Now we stand on the middle ground–the in-house pot luck. It’s nice to see that the response “I’m bringing pot” to the question “what are you bringing to the pot luck?” still gets a laugh–though not the laught it used to get in the swinging ’70s.

I don’t prepare food, other than Little G’s microwave pancakes in the morning, so I signed up to bring a few “growlers” from Captain Lawrence Brewery up the road in Priusville. A growler is a 64-ounce monstrosity–a giant glass half-gallon container.

The biggest challenge was, of course, schlepping the things to the train station on my bike.

I decided to haul one yesterday, the Brown Ale, and the Imperial Pale Ale today. (I decided on the Brown Ale, the lesser of the two, for the maiden voyage, in case something went horribly wrong.)

capt-lawr-kids.JPG

When you haul a backpack every day, you’re in tune with even slight changes in weight. If I bring a hardcover book or my Bose headphones, I can feel the difference the way you feel those extra pounds you put on over Thanksgiving.

Add around 70 ounces of beer (the Captain’s doesn’t come cheap, but those hirsute fellows at the brewery, to their credit, fill them well) and a thick glass bottle, and you’re hauling some serious cargo around–especially in 20 degree weather with a stiff wind in your face.

Not long after reaching work yesterday and finding a spot in the fridge for Growler #1, I spied a co-worker who’d seen that I signed up to bring beer. He told me he’d picked up three six’s of Sam from the grocery store oh, a block or so from work.

F***er, *I thought to myself, partially because the guy’s last name actually rhymes with “f***er,” and partially because he’d obviously taken a much easier route to the pot luck than me.

But holidays are about going the extra mile–even if that extra mile is on a bike, in the wind, with a mini keg strapped to your back like a St. Bernard. Right? Wouldn’t my fellow pot luckers appreciate the extra effort when we broke bread and cracked open the first growler at 3:01 today?

This morning’s ride, with the pale ale, was a bit smoother, like the beer itself. But the train part of the equation was a nightmare. We rolled out of 125th and came to a stop. The conductor told us there was but one track leading into the Park Avenue tunnel. We sat. We sat some more.

Finally, we got moving, but crawled–positively crawled–all the way to Grand Central.

UPDATE: It was the New Haven Line’s fault! A pantograph shoe fell off the damn train, says Journal News! The second time in two days!

I was lucky enough to have scored my own 1 3/4 folding seat space, the first time in months I’d done so. I had the excellent Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” on my iPod, and articles in the Times that I don’t normally have time to read. Oh, and that Imperial Ale in my bag was calling my name.

I fought the urge. Finally, we docked at the platform at 9:22–an hour and six minutes after we left Hawthorne, for an impressive 18 minutes of tardiness.

Less than six hours until a date with the Captain.

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