Pairing Beers with Short Stories
Next up, story #12 of 12: “An Inside Job.” The narrator is a struggling guitar player whose hopes are pinned on getting a break someday — but in the meantime he works temp jobs. An odd assignment puts him in a surreal industrial landscape alone with a stoner-philosopher, and things go a little off the rails.
In between steady jobs, I’ve done my time at temp services and survived to tell the tales. Lots of office work, but nearly cut the tip of my finger off once at a factory gig; nine stitches and no health insurance. Not sure which hurt worse. Used potent chemicals to scrub the black, oily soot off the walls in an industrial garage after all the giant tires of the heavy equipment burned in a fire. The right-turn warning and blue-and-white stripe reflective decals on the back of the big orange Schneider National semi-truck trailers? I punched those big stickers out of their die-cut trim for a few weeks. Daily headaches from the fumes. Fun stuff for a buck!
This fictional story captures some of that uncertainty, and the days that are always something new, yet oddly still the same. More proof positive that pretty much any life experience can work its way into your writing in some fashion — or make you work harder to succeed elsewhere.
The beer to pair with this: Axe Man, an edgy India Pale Ale from Minnesota’s Surly Brewing. “Axe” is slang for an electric guitar, though actually the term originated with jazz players in the 1950s and referred to the saxophone. Over time the rockin’ guitar players shredding out there on stage took the term. Frankly, it suits the guitar better, I think. Pictured is my own Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster.
The beer’s own label offers the descriptor hoppy, loud (like an axe man would have it), and “dank,” which in the Queen’s English (according to Oxford) means “(especially of a place) slightly wet, cold and unpleasant” — that nails the story setting. In slang it also refers to sticky, stinky, high-quality marijuana. Again, a tie to someone in the story. But for craft beer, it indicates high-alcohol brews with a green, funky, resinous aroma and flavor. By the way the genus of hops (Humulus) and that of marijuana (Cannabis) are, in fact, in the same family, Cannabinaceae. That’s quite the pairing tie-in, but don’t worry, this is by no means just a pot story.