In heaven there is no beer; that’s why we drink it here … NOT. If Anbar is heaven, we have been seriously misled in Sunday School, but General Order #1 prohibits drinking by U.S. military in Iraq. It shows respect for the local customs and probably saves a lot of trouble. As a cruel hoax, the chow hall features coolers full of nonalcoholic beer. It looks like real beer, but that one word modifier says it is not worth drinking. If there is any real beer on Al Asad, I have never seen any sign of it, and I have looked – until today. Today is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps and every Marine gets two beers – two real beers – on this happy day. This includes honorary Marines like me. All joking aside, it is an honor to be among Marines on their birthday.
First we got a half hour lecture about the history of 2nd Marine Regiment. It was an interesting history, very heroically told by true believers. More than the usual number of people showed up for the meeting. After that, we all filed out and got two OPEN beers. Nobody can share a beer; nobody can save a beer for later. It is two beers for everybody and only two beers. Officers, enlisted men and FSOs all get exactly the same numbers. Colonel Clardy promised to crush anybody who drank more than two beers. He seemed serious and probably could do it, so nobody risked provoking his wrath. There was some choice among brands. We had Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Special Draft and ordinary Budweiser, I took the Miller. Bud Light is no better than that ersatz stuff they have at the PX and Coors Light just a baby step above. Budweiser is brewed from rice. Need I say more? Miller Special Draft really is decent beer and its flavor was significantly enhanced by its being in this here and now place. We were a little worried there would not be enough beer to go around. According to the Airforce, several cases of beer were “damaged” in transit and could not be delivered. I am told their story is true.
As long as I am on the subject of beverages, let me say a few words about my favorite beverage, which is Coca-Cola. I drink a lot of the stuff – more than 2 liters a day. Until a couple of years ago, I drank ordinary coke. I used to run a lot and burn off the calories, but nobody can outrun Father Time and after he trips you, his cousin Mr. Fat comes around. I switched to Diet Coke in Poland. In Europe it is called Cola Light. But the interesting thing about Coca Cola, the ubiquitous symbol of the homogeneity of globalization, is that it tastes different in different places. The best version of ordinary Coke, for example, is found in Brazil. Western Europe’s Coke has a peculiar taste, but in Eastern Europe Coke is more like the U.S. variety. European Cola Light is much better than Diet Coke you get in the U.S., even though the cans look similar. What tastes like Cola Light in the U.S. is Coke Zero. So when overseas, I drink Cola Light, which now I like even better than sugary Coke. In the U.S. I go for the crisp taste of Coke Zero.
Unfortunately, my switch to Diet Coke proved a temporary fix. Father Time has delivered another kick in the keister and Mr. Fat moved right in again. I will have to cut down on the chocolate now. Life is tough all over, but with the proverbial couple of beers softening the blow, today who cares?