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Buffalo Rose

A tragic shortage of hops.

With the election less than two weeks away, gas prices are mysteriously plummeting -- with no real change in the factors that were blamed for driving them up several months ago. In fact, things are looking worse, what with that maniac in Korea making nukes so that he can take off his swimming suit in the locker-room shower that is international relations. Still, the characteristic American apathy that sets in after a few months of pretty much anything we get ourselves into pervades even our attitudes regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Unless it affects us directly, we'll wait and see what happens.

Now another tragedy has befallen America, and still no public outcry. Earlier this month, 4 percent of the country's hops supply went up in flames in a warehouse in Yakima, Washington, an inferno that was probably initiated by the facility's stash of "super alpha" hops, which are known to be unstable. Industry sources say they don't expect beer prices to skyrocket, but those sources probably also drink Coors Light. Those of us who drink real beer are no doubt screwed -- since good beer no doubt comes from "super alpha" hops.

To consume as much as we could while beer is still available, the Institute of Drinking Studies convened at the Buffalo Rose(1119 Washington Avenue in Golden), because the Scottish Representative and his wife were in no shape to drive into Denver proper that evening. Several million motorcycles were parked around the place, and some of the patrons on the patio looked like they'd settle any beer shortage by shooting us. Fortunately, the hardy specimens stayed outside, while inside we had to deal with the sort of pseudo-biker who thinks that a weekend of non-showering, a few shots of liquid courage and ownership of a Harley gives him license to swing his ego around like he's working security at Altamont. I took immense pleasure in "accidentally" knocking one of these posers into the wall of the cramped bathroom, offering a heartfelt "Excuse me" by way of apology. I don't think he dared say anything, since he had just taken a shot from a guy with pink toenails. Institute tip: Do not have several beers and then fall asleep in front of your wife, daughter and the Scottish Representative's wife.

But as it turned out, the real bikers were good sports and obliged the Scottish Representative's wife by posing as subjects for her photography course, and we managed to throw on such a good buzz that we could talk about breast-feeding without getting the willies. As every guy knows, pregnancy is a wonderful miracle that peaks in the second trimester or, as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology calls it, the "Big-Boob Horny Trimester." This is basically God's way of sending expectant dads to Disney World as payment for putting up with mood swings, irrational behavior, nocturnal food cravings and mood swings. But ultimately, the big boobs are not meant for you, and that can lead to marital strife. We were advised to set limits early on the duration of breast-feeding, the better to avoid fighting later. (An acquaintance, we learned, finally put his foot down after six months of baby monopolizing Mom because he wanted "them" back for himself.)

In anticipation of the day the election is over and beer prices go up, the Institute is currently hoarding hops, barley and pre-packaged beer. Once beer is rationed, it's likely that we'll find ourselves sharing the communal keg-boob with pseudo-bikers -- until we squash them and take back what is rightfully ours. But probably not at the Buffalo Rose. In the post-apocalyptic world, places that can't serve what beers they have quickly will fail miserably -- and no thirsty group will stand for that mandatory gratuity on a table for six.

 
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