Mr. K

Miller Lite: Miller Brewing Company: Light Lager

mr-kAt the conclusion of Touch of Evil, Tanya (played by Marlene Dietrich), cigarette dangling from her aged glossy lips, quickly eulogizes her former lover: “He was some kind of a man… What does it matter what you say about people?”

To which, today, I would counter, “What does it matter what you say about a beer? It’s really about the person who’s handing it to you. The person who is sharing it with you.” Our annual Christmas Eve visitations traditionally conclude at the Kolonauski household, where Mrs. K would be scrambling to make the early mass in order to avoid the throngs of worshipers. Still she can speak so quick without breathing that we can hear a whole year’s worth of gossip in three minutes it takes her to get ready and hit the door. Their whole quite solid and amusing relationship was based on Mrs. K’s unique abilities for talking and Mr. K’s for listening.

“And I told her that that would never happen…got to go now.”

Flash. And there would be Mr. K already handing you a beer. Sometimes Yuengling, sometimes Miller, sometimes just something else, but always cold, refreshing and timed ripe for the conclusion of a day of sleigh riding. My son particularly liked when Mr. K handed out the little 8 ounce cans. Like last year, Miller Lite in thimble sized cans. Mr. K would listen as us substitute celebrators would tell about our year, occasionally commenting, and then: “are you ready for another one?” Size is no matter when the quantities are unlimited.

Mr. K passed away last Wednesday and his memorial was today. The whole K clan all stands over six foot tall and I wandered around the post-service reception listen in a land of giants to tall tales about the man, how he served in the military, his stint as the inmate’s dentist over at the Camp Hill Correctional Institute, his pilgrimages to Watkins Glen. Yes.

After the food disappeared from the hall, the Kolonauski family…one of the craziest, sincerest, funniest groups you could meet…invited me back to the house. Mrs. K lives in a rather strict, religiously-oriented retirement community. She and her husband often took great pride in serving a different attitude back to the community since their conception of a life worth living included a celebration of the hop and the vine.

When I showed up, the garage door was open in full view of all the other retirees in the vicinity. And just inside, lined up on a small card table, was a small altar of beer cans, an homage to Mr. K. His son (and my friend) Charles took over the tradition and handed me a cold one. Miller Lite.

Now, this coming Christmas Eve, and on every Eve there after, I will miss that quiet man, extending that little can in friendship. So what does it matter what one says about a Miller Lite? It was just fine for me.

Rating: without comment

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