VILNIUS - Truth be told (and why would I lie?), my life in the Baltics kind of revolves around beer drinking. Try as I might to persuade people that I am not a drunkard, just a compulsive drinker, the fact of the matter is that nothing can gratify me like that frothy amber tipple.
But what SWE (single white expat) male in any of the Baltic countries can deny his love (or at the very least infatuation) for beer? When people ask, as they so often do, "Why are you here in Lithuania?" I have to mask my passion for "alus." "It's the women," I tell them.
Today, though, it's time to come clean. It's time to come out of the closet. It's not the women - it's the beer. When I write back to my friends stateside and tell them about my love of a tall, top heavy blonde named Amber, I am speaking about a beverage. After all, beer is in so many ways better than a woman. It's sad but true.
I mean, does a beer talk back to you? Well come to think of it, there was that time where I drank too much Utenos... actually there were many times where I drank too much Utenos. But on this particular occasion I mixed it with some saltibarsciai (the cold beet soup with the bizarre pink color).
While I can't entirely blame it on the beer, something was definitely talking back to me the next day. Alas (or alus), I digress, as often I do after a few beers. But what is beer without digression?
And what, for that matter, is a writer without depression? True sometimes after a few Baltic beers, I get a little down. But that's just the writer in me and not the drinker.
Sometimes after a few more beers, I start to show my inspired writings to others (mostly women). Women, who sometimes might deem me silly, like a schoolboy with a crush. Or just a sad old drunk man. But that's just the writer in me and not the drinker.
Anyway, it doesn't matter. No one, least of all me, can decode my beer-fueled scribblings that I leave strewn around bars, on napkins, beer coasters and perhaps the occasional hand.
Alus, my sin, my soul. Ahh-lus: from the tip of my tongue to the depths of my stomach in a swift glug. My lips, moist with anticipation, caress the rim of every glass. I swallow it down, rapturous gulp after rapturous gulp. But then, oh, the woe in my eyes when the glass is empty. Ah, but then the waitress comes. She knows what I want.
Beer of any kind, I am not fickle on that particular. Some people fancy me as a one-beer man. True I was once deeply enamoured of Svyturys, but then I succumbed to the temptations of cold bodied Kalnapalis and got away with it. I've been amorously flirting with other flavors ever since.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury! Beer with me! I mean only to have one beer and stay for five - is that a sin? No, it is loyalty. It is commitment and compulsion. It is love.