Thursday, January 31, 2019

The yin and yang of Leipzig

         I am here in Leipzig, East Germany to tag along to my husband’s medical convention of 5000 international radiologists. (They all look perilously alike. They all share one trait. They wanted to be doctors but never see patients.( Picture a town flooded with said individuals.) I am an historical artifact called the The-wife-traveling-with-her-working-husband. I am actually old enough to remember fifty years ago when they used to have a "wives program" at doctors' conventions. While the men went to the conference, a social coordinator  arranged activities for the wives, like a day trip down the Rhine. Now the idea of the wives’ program is completely dead in the water. It is a quaint relic.  Nearly half of the radiologists under forty are women and the wives of male radiologists have their own jobs and can’t be tagging along on their husbands’ coattails. I am a writer and can do my work anywhere so, to my husband's chagrin, I accompanied him. 

         I was interested to see what has actually happened in East Germany since the wall fell. Not many people visit it and instead focus on Berlin and the West. I was a psychologist in a previous lifetime, before I ran out of empathy, and what interests me more than the modernization of East Germany is their cultural psyches. My one week as a cultural sleuth revealed the following. The Germans are a mass of contradictions. While on the one hand they are totally rule oriented to the point of anal retention, on the one hand, they do things that even in North America would be considered wild or at least edgy. As Freud says the tighter you are wound the more you have to break out. Let’s start with the tighter and then loosen up.

         My husband was administered a giant badge the size of legal paper on a rope to wear around his neck to prove he was registered at the conference. The badge is so large it looks like a tag you would put on a child with his name on it if you sent him alone to an unknown city. The convention literature says you must wear your badge at all time and you may not lose it; they will not be replaced and you will not be admitted without it. If you do lose your badge, the committee advises you not come to the desk for a replacement. Result: 5000 radiologists have not lost their badges and wear them at all times even though they look a bit slow travelling around town with giant name tags that blow in the wind.

Cups at our hotel
         In the morning you can buy a breakfast which has horrible sausage and other animal organs drooping off trays. I skipped the whole animal fest and went to the connecting lounge where they have free coffee and tea in the morning and then I waited to eat lunch at a restaurant  where I was not chained to some strange derma. They have paper cups for the lobby and real china cups for the breakfast room. In reality, it is all one big room. I took a china cup and filled it  with tea from the free drinks in the lobby. It was almost noon and the breakfast had been closed for hours.  A waitress came dashing over saying that I could not use a china cup from that end of the lobby since I missed breakfast. I apologized and said I would use paper in the future if I didn’t buy breakfast. As I settled down to have my tea and to puruse the Leipziger Newspaper, she continued to loom over me. Finally, I looked up and said, “yes?”  Then she went and got a paper cup and poured my tea from the china cup to the paper cup saying, “I am only doing my job.”

The sneeze
One day in the lobby I sneezed a few times and the clerk at the desk said, “Gesundheit.”  I said to her and to anyone in the lobby who could hear me, “Isn’t it weird that Gesundheit is a universal term for sneezing. Why would that one German word be used all over the world for sneezing? She looked at me for a long moment and then said, “That is not my job. I am to help you with  directions.” The other people in the lobby just busied themselves with their devices acting as though I was either  thought disordered or demanding. 

Elevator at the art gallery
         I was in an art gallery —no one does modern grotesque like the Germans.  They can really capture psychological terror.(See picture below.) This is only part of a much larger sculpture of hanging people.) I was in a huge elevator with an entire class of seven year olds. One chubby boy said to me in a thick accent, “Hello woman!” and the others giggled. The teacher shook her head in horror as  though he’d brandished a gun. When they got off the elevator quietly in orderly fashion, a woman next to me, who clearly worked at the Gallery, said by way of apology for such profound rudeness, “Children do not behave as they once did.” I was shocked as I thought they were perfectly behaved and said so. I said, “You should see children in North America. She said, "Really!" she could not imagine worse than what she'd witnessed. I felt like mailing her in a crate to New York school for a day. 

There were numerous incidents like this all day long. Just when I was convinced that the East Germans were trapped in elaborate rules, I saw the other end of the spectrum of equally wild, adventurous behaviour--things that would be edgy even in North America.

         Dinner in the dark
         I went to a restaurant called Mondshein by our hotel to scope  it out for dinner while my husband was still at his conference. The woman spoke English. ((Very few people speak English in the East German city of Leipzig— unlike West Germany, especially Berlin where nearly everyone speaks it.) I was desperate for someone to talk to so we started chatting. She said their restaurant was only for people who want to eat in the dark. I had to enter the pitch-black dining room by putting my arm on her shoulder and then we stumbled into darkness. You could not even see a shadow. All the waiters were blind. The first thing I asked was, “Does this have to do with sex?” Then I added in order to normalize myself, “Probably everyone asks that.”  She said, “You are the first ever to ask that.” (Oops. I was weird yet again.) When I asked the point of the darkness, she said it was a new movement to enhance taste by cutting out the other senses. You have no idea what you are eating. They present a four-course meal. After the meal you go into a lighted lounge and tell the hostess what you thought you ate. She said usually people are way off. They have no idea how to pair their tastes to the actual dish. Literally they don’t know fish from fowl. Apparently, when you have to block some senses, the others are enhanced and the food taste is augmented. She said that there are several “dark” restaurants in Germany and a few in Berlin (of course). When I asked what kind of person comes to such a  restaurant she said they are average people of all classes and all ages (20s to 70s).  I told her my husband of 48 years would never buy into dark dining. When he got back from his conference, and I told him about it he said, “Let’s go!” Guess I don’t know him very well!

         Our hotel lacks common amenities such as a concierge, a phone, and a restaurant that does not include body organs,  but is replete with a sink that lights up in green and a bathtub that also lights up in green and is a spike heel in the middle of our room. I kid you not.

A hotel near us that I checked out on line is, in my humble opinion, the Wurst hotel ever. It is all based on a sausage theme and the restaurant has  every imaginable, and unimaginable sausage. The pillows alone are a derma nightmare.

Wonderland 13 Wicked Wear
         ‘Naughty' clothing stores are everywhere. In Wonderland 13 Wicked Wear the clothing didn’t look that edgy to me. It resembled peasant blouses with laced bustiers and dirndls in red and black. They have high heeled red shoes that lace up with open toes. In reality it you bought into this ’naughty’ clothing you’d look like a waitress at any one of the Hungarian restaurants in Toronto. The website says “expressions of your lifestyle with a wink" I told the proprietor I didn’t get it and she said only, “You’re not German.”  She had that right.

         So there you have it. The yin and yang of the German psyche.  However if you simply focus on the German psyche alone, you will miss what is amazing about Leipzig. The German people are talented and just looking at the history of Leipzig you get a taste of it.  Unlike Toronto where I am from, in Leipzig you have written history dating back to the 10th century. Musical genius alone claims Bach, Wagner and Mendelssohn-- all living in Leipzig! Leipzig University started in 1409. In 1519 Luther started the reformation and in 1539 the people of Leipzig became Lutheran.
          We went to a service where Johann Sebastian Bach was music director from 1723 until his death in 1750.  He was ‘directed' to come up with new music every week for the service and he composed  it  weekly for years on end! It was like my husband's conference badges, there was no way to object! 
         We had a great time going to an underground restaurant called the Auerbach Kellor. Goethe, the great writer, was a regular at the cellar while studying at the university from 1765 to 1768. He saw a wood block hanging in the restaurant on the wall of Faust causing an uproar rolling on a barrel. This woodcut inspired Goethe to write Faust. The basement tavern has all kinds of frescoes from scenes of Goethe’s Faust

When I was taking the picture below of Faust, it was behind a table of Japanese male  students who were at a computer conference. They wanted to know why they all had to get up so I could take the picture. I explained why Goethe was famous and the  figure in red in the picture was the devil. I asked them if it's a good idea to sell your soul for eternal youth and worldly  goods as  Faust  had done. One earnest, black suited, be-speckled  twenty-year-old looked at me and said he’d sell his youth today for middle age and prestige and all the others agreed.  I was surpised by his response but  admired his honestly. 

During the war the restaurant was used as a bomb shelter and after the war it was used by the authorities to hand out food stamps. 

The fall of the wall began in a church in Leipzig, with peaceful protest. Everyone was shocked that  the wall came down without  violence as the cold  war began to thaw.  I remember Walter Cronkite showing the crumbling wall on CBS News in  1991. We all  wondered what  these East Germans, who have  been walled  off  from  the west, would  be  like  when they emerged from their dreary soviet block buildings.  I  noticed that whenever  I talked to a German on this trip, they dated things  by 'before' and 'after'  the  wall.  None of the irony was lost on me that now,  nearly thirty years  later, we in the west,  discuss  "walls"  daily in the news.

 Like every other city I have been to in Germany, there is a Holocaust museum or memorial. Germans have done an amazing job covering what happened to the Jews during the war. You could never say they have buried that history. In fact it is in your face in every city and it is always done well. The memorial in Leipzig is simple but effective. It is called 140 Empty Chairs. Each chair stands for 100 Jews who used to pray in this spot where their synagogue used to stand. 14,000 Jews from Leipzig were sent to Buchanwald concentration camp and killed. The memorial is not in a tourist area but in a plain neighbourhood of apartment buildings so that whenever anyone of a thousand people open their shades they see it. Here is a picture taken from someone renting a 6th floor apartment. 

 As I look around me, I realized that almost no one now has  lived through the war. You’d have to be in your middle 80’s’.  It’s gone from current event to history in my life time.  I remember when I came here in my 20’s, fifty years ago, you saw wounded retired soldiers limping around every town square in leather shoes and vests. Now fifty years later you see everyone in Nikes with a cell phone.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Writing an Historical Novel :the Underground Railroad

I am having a new experience. That alone is a joy at the age 70. I am writing an historical novel! (One of my sons said I am so old my three memoirs are now historical.) It’s a big undertaking but it keeps my mind alive.
 I did, in fact, already write somewhat of a historical novel in 1985 called SEDUCTION about Darwin and Freud. Although it was placed in a modern setting, it explored Darwin and Freud through their letters and writings. In this novel it is truly historical as it is about the Underground Railroad and takes place years 1815-1860.
 I don’t have a title yet. I was thinking of UNDERGROUND since it works for everyone in the novel—both slaves and abolitionists. We all have feelings that have gone underground as in unconscious things and secrets that we won’t reveal as well as the actual Underground Railroad. So that title would work on many levels.
I have wanted to write this book since I was a little girl. I grew up in Lewiston, New York, which was one of the hubs for the Underground Railroad since it is a border town on the Niagara River. It was the last stop on the Underground Railway since it was on the American border.  All that was left was to row across the river to freedom in Canada. I could see Canada from my U.S. home when I was a child.
New York State has dedicated a statue to Lewiston’s work on the Underground Railroad and placed it at the spot where the slaves crossed the River to freedom. This statue is one block from where I grew up. (See the picture below of me standing in front of the statue on the riverbank.)

The house I grew up in was built soon after the revolutionary war and billeted soldiers in the war of 1812. My relatives lived there for over 200 years and were active in the Underground Railroad in its heyday.  On some of the timber beams in the basement people, presumably slaves, who were hidden there, have etched their initials. I grew up with these stories and their embellishments that have turned into Lewiston legends.
When I started the book I had no idea how hard it was to write an historical novel. In my memoirs I could write almost everything from memory. (My husband calls me an idiot savant since I can remember what I wore to my 8th birthday party but not my present cell number.) Remembering the local and national politics was a piece of cake since I lived through them from the 50’s to the present.
My protagonist, named Lydia, is going to run the Frontier House Tavern and hotel in Lewiston as a cover for her Underground Railroad work. She is a partner with a black woman named Hazelon. One is the cook, the other works the bar and together they own the hotel.
Lewiston, now a sleepy town, was bigger than Niagara Falls and Buffalo in the 1800’s. So anyone who was anyone (as my mother would have said) who wanted to see Niagara Falls had to stay in Lewiston at the Frontier House. (See picture of Frontier House. The records show Mark Twain, Dickens, De witt Clinton, Lafayette, Henry Clay all stayed there—and the who’s who goes on.) James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Spy in Lewiston and included the Lewiston barmaid as a character. It is a daunting but fascinating task for me to find a way to tie all this history into one novel. (The Frontier House was built in  1824 and is still standing. See picture. This is only the upper half.)

As I began writing I realized –oh my God these people at the bar have to have conversation! What will they talk about? I had to read history books to know what happened in the antebellum era.  In order to have chatter at the bar and to reveal the characters in the town, I had to know this history enough to make banter. That means I had to know it as though I’d lived through it.  America grew to four times it size, slavery was debated, Indians were run off their land and “Jacksonian Democracy” (ironic term since it didn’t include women, blacks natives, or landless whites) took over.
Also how did people get around? Does my protagonist jump on a horse or what? In 1830 she took a stage coach, by 1840 their were no stage coaches and she took a train.
What did she wear? I have had to go to costume museums and study what undergarments were worn and what was in style and what was out of style.  If you want to describe someone as out of date in their apparel, you have to know what year men stopped wearing breeches. I know exactly what the 1980's shoulder pads looked like but the corsets of the 1830’s threw me. I had to learn women couldn’t take deep breaths in them and had to pant shallowly so their breasts would flutter.  With the smallest exertion you could feel faint. You had to carry smelling salts in small vials that were covered with the same fabric as the dress.
In my ignorance, I, As Blanche said in A Street Car Named Desire, I had to “count on the kindness of strangers.” I went to Lewiston nearly sixty years after I left there (I now live in Toronto) and knocked on the door of the Tryon House that was the most famous station on the Underground Railroad. It is located on the steep bank of the river and there are three hidden basements that go down to the river’s edge where slaves were hidden.  Often run-aways were hidden for months until the ice broke on the lake. Remember there were whirlpools and strong currents as it was not that far from the falls. It was less than a kilometer to get across and only fourteen miles away in St. Catherine’s lived Harriet Tubman. (See picture below of back of the house with all the basements to the river.)

This is the first time I have had to collaborate. I have probably lived in my own head for way too long. (Only child writes in her Third floor garret for 50 years. Picture a white haired loony like Mr. Rochester’s wife in Jane Eyre.)  Three things shocked me in this collaboration. I was surprised by how much information there is on every tiny thing that ever happened in the past and how much controversy there is over every historical event. Secondly, I was taken aback by how many people are fascinated by local history. For example one amateur historian has sent me all kinds of information on trains used to get up the steep escarpment. Another couple dressed in period attire and enacted a short play with abolitionist dialogue for me down by the river. Thirdly, I am bowled over by how kind people are in the donating of their time. People have opened their historical homes, their minds and have given unflinchingly of their time and copy machines. The local historians have researched all the transportation for me, and the town council members and history volunteers have unearthed reams of data. The Lewiston Librarian knows every pertinent document available from the 1800’s. When I arrived she had it all packaged for me. She even has the deeds to the original family homes. People who have lived in the village for generations have passed down tales to their children and their children have gotten wind of my  project emailed their lore to me.
I think Hillary Clinton was right when she said, “It takes a Village.”

Monday, March 19, 2018


If you think you have nothing left to learn at age seventy-—think again. I learned two invaluable lessons this week while vacationing in Mexico. It took an emergency for me to absorb them.For the last three years we have opted to find housing through airbnb in our trips to San Miguel, Mexico. Each year it has worked beautifully. Until this year.
Two days ago we jumped across the dog crap on the sidewalk and entered our rental apartment for the first time  that was misportrayed on line. The pictures were totally deceiving. In fact it was not that much cheaper than the near palace we had last year. We were sent the keys by mail. We discovered the place was tiny, dirty and  had no essentials like toilet paper, towels, hair dryer, front door that closed, and storage space (nearly all the cupboards were  padlocked) we tried to find a phone number. Finally we found one on a dirty scrap of paper affixed to the fridge. When we called we found out we were talking to a person in California who was not the owner. She leases for the season and has sublet to us. (She rents for six months and our two weeks of high season is paying for her whole stay!) The real owner owns sixty apartments and is a slum landlord who lives in San Miguel. He does not answer his phone.( Of course.) The sublet person blamed all the problems on the cleaning lady who was non existnet.
The person who sublet to us  demanded all the money up front for our two week stay. The owner is a big conglomerate and big conglomerates have big lawyers. We were screwed. We came face to face with the downside of Airbnb. Suddenly a hotel sounded perfect but it was too late. Everything for a fifty miles radius was full. You think this is bad. just wait!
The next day I was in my underwear (sorry for T.M.I. but a necessary part of the story) reading in bed. Suddenly I heard a huge explosion and a whooshing sound like standing next to Niagara Falls and then the room was engulfed with the smell of gas. My husband, fully clothed and reading in the living room, screamed, “Gas explosion. Major gas leak, Get out now!” My husband who is never melodramatic (that is my department) screamed, “Now, now, it is going to blow up any second and we could die!” As he was thundering down the stairs and gas was buzzing in my ears and filling my lungs I was struck with a dilemma. Did I want to die in this gas explosion or run out in the busiest street in San Miguel at the age of seventy in my white underpants and bra. Of course everyone over fifty knows the choice in this dilemma. I chose Death.  As the gas filled the room and I had trouble breathing, I donned my blouse, pants and even my shoes. I skipped lipstick since it was an emergency.
My husband was on the street screaming “gas explosion” and clearing the busy street. It was my job to run into the posh hotel across the street and call the equivalent of 911. I ran in so fast I did not notice that there were glass doors as they were clean ( unlike our place) and had no wire grate. I ran into the doors full speed and bounced back on the street. (Everyday I was there the doorman imitated me bouncing off the closed door when I walked past.) I still have a black and blue mark on my forehead.
The gas men came in trucks with screaming sirens and with my husband  cleared the street and evacuated all apartments near ours. Gas-emergency-Men in masks ran up and down the street yelling in Spanish. (see picture with my husband, Michael, who knows nothing about gas leaks, is directing) Finally a gas emergency man donned in an explosion proof blow-up suit that made him look like the Michelin tire man. He fought his way through the gas to the roof and found that someone had jerry-rigged the gas tank valve with their own repair of plastic to cover a leak. This particular day was hot and the gas expanded in the tank and blew the jerry-rigged cap off and gas filled the house. 
The gas men said these giant tanks are only good for ten years and it was now thirty years old and had had makeshift repairs over the years and they insisted we needed a new tank.  We said we would leave if the owner didn’t put in a new tank. The spokesman for the owner said ‘Adios Amigos.” They still have the money from the renter. We were the sublet. I’ll spare you the entire story but let it be known that the landlord paid no attention to the written order. They jerry-rigged it  yet again, and the owner refused to buy a new water tank. We are helpless unless we wanted to fly home and give up all we have spent on round-trip tickets, etc.
 I got a real taste of what people feel like who are helpless with nowhere to go (everything for miles around was full) and had to settle for a substandard domain and a cruel, selfish prick of a landlord can rule your life. I’m lucky I don’t live with it every day.
The other lesson I learned was more complicated. It was not really a lesson but a message I’d absorbed about body image. During emergencies people react with their gut-- not their mind. As an older woman I know society says, “Your body is totally done by fifty. Don’t under any circumstances, including risk of death, show it publically. When you think about it, when was the last time you saw an older woman’s nude body on television or in a movie. You see every other combination of body and sexuality. All those taboos have been broken but not this one. I’d learned my lesson well.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


I was having coffee other day with some other writers and they were saying the worst occupational hazard they face is the dreaded Writer's Block; that is  facing the blank  page with nothing to say. Much to everyone's shock I said I'd never once  suffered from writers' block. Some one asked me what motivated me and I thought for a while and then had to admit, if I'm being honest, It is anger.  I recommend it for writers. First it is inexhaustible. Second,  it is always with you and  it gives you a cutting edge. Finally, anger gives you motivation and energy so you can surrmount  all obstacles.  There is nothing like righteous indignation to get you to speed to your computer in the morning.  Anger  has, of course, always been the emotion of choice for me and other Irish Catholics of the American variety.

The easiest way to explain how anger weaves its magic into the writing life is by exploring the  motivation for  my new book  (forthcoming)  titled Good Morning, Monster. The seed for this book originated at my high-school reunion several years ago. The principal had everyone stand up and clap for an alumnus of our class, Tony G.,  a military hero, who had been awarded the Purple Heart at the White House for an act of bravery performed in Vietnam. 

In terms of full disclosure,  this military 'hero' is the same  hyperactive boy who krazy-glued the mouthes shut on the fish I was using for my science project on oxygen for the New York State Science Fair. After months of work, I came into the lab to find them lock-jawed floating on the top of the tank.  Don't bother wasting your breath telling me that was fifty-six years ago and I should give up my resentment.  I nurture grudges. Have you ever heard that there is no such thing as Irish Dementia? Why--because they never forget the grudges.

 The principal waxed eloquent about the traits of war heroes saying they had to have courage, selflessness, humility, patience, caring, and tenacity. Of course, what he said was true and I agree, we  need war heroes. I mean no one wanted Hitler in the white house in 1940.  However, as the principal was expounding on military heroes, I started getting hot under the collar thinking  of the unsung psychological heroes in my private practice in psychology. I have seen more bravery in some of my patients than General Patton ever saw in World War two.

My patients’ bravery is not time limited as a war hero’s is; it occupies their entire life. Why is it that heroism is not measured in duration? Most of the time heroes are brave for one moment in time or in testosterone flashes.  My patients had to be brave every day.  In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech Faulkner said bravery was sometimes, "simply  enduring".

If you are an abused child,  life can be your own personal war. Children with cruel parents have to get up every morning and fight a new battle against incredibly uneven odds. They are captive, powerless, behind enemy lines and are held prisoner. They have no loving childhood to fall back on for personal strength; there is no armistice in sight and there will be no glory at the end. Back wards of psychiatric hospitals are full of these grown children who sank from battle fatigue and fell into some form of mental illness. The streets of our cities are beset with substance abusers that could not fight another day. They had PTSD before they were five and had no veterans’ services to turn to. 

As my anger surged, my book began to take form. I would counter the military hero and offer another form of heroism; The kind that is a lifelong fight. There has been a lot written about victims of late and I want to explore strength and resistance. I aim to celebrate my patients' bravery. They won't have my old high school principal's and the White House's adoration, but their stories  will see the light of day, and it will be my way of giving them the Medal of Honour.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Bud, anyone?

I was talking to Bruce my advertising friend  about the new Budweiser commercial that was aimed for the 4th of July. It is where Adam Driver, ( oddly enough) drives across country to a disabled veteran’s home to tell the family that the daughter has a scholarship provided by Budweiser.  Bruce and I could not agree on efficacy of the ad.  It worked for me and he thought it approached The Bachelor in its degree of hokum.

Surprised by our different views, I began to go deeper into what actually is the Budweiser market. What do men and women want who drink Bud? After all targeting your group makes an ad, if not good, is at least successful.
I came across what I thought was an astonishing study and survey done on Bud advertisers. What female Bud drinkers want is a man who is, and I quote from the study “authentic.”  Ok, I get that. It makes sense  you want someone genuine who is not a sleaze artist or some bogus goofball. Just be real; be honest; don’t have a false persona. I could see going for that kind of man in an ad or even in real life. It tells you the Bud woman wants what I want in a man. I mean at least it is not way off the mark.  Of course “Authentic” can be misleading for you can be an authentic psychopath—but let's not delve into semantic hair splitting.
Now what kind of girl does a Bud man want? Please sit down before you read this. If you take heart medicine and you are a woman, please pop a pill under your tongue. You will think you are in a really warped time machine. Ready? The woman they want is, and I quote again, “Low-maintenance!” That’s right. They could have picked intelligent, genuine, funny, ambitious, kind, family oriented. Nope.  They want “Low-maintenance.”
What exactly does low-maintenance look like in a woman in a relationship with a man? She wants whatever the man wants. (That is referred to by the Bud man as ‘No drama.”) She doesn’t need restaurants or dating. She will just stay home, have a beer, ( Yup, a Bud)  and two minute sex which she says was perfect and then say goodnight. If you don’t call her on time or cancel to watch football with your bros she is fine with it. She has no demands, which is what the Bud man wants.
 Why doesn’t she have any demands? What does it take to be “low-maintenance.”  There is no one home and she has no boundaries and denies her personal needs. That ends when one day she just gets depressed ( as the Rolling Stones say there is a little yellow pill for mothers--I suspect low maintenance mothers) or silently walks out, or the man walks out because he is bored stiff or not stiff.  “Low maintenance” is a way of saying I want a woman with no needs. The only important needs are my own. Also you never work on a relationship or have romantic highs with out sorting out personal needs of everyone in the relationship. Low-maintenance women are the ones that are still on the Titanic.

The  results of this study done by Bud reflect any decade since the 30’s. It does not reflect any social change. I think that male Bud drinkers are living in a time warp and mistake fear and powerlessness in women as a time when “America was great.” Bud drinkers carry on, but I’ll take a foreign beer anytime.