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Edward Abbey: on opening a beer

The hardcases among us snap the tabs from cans of beer, kept cool like catfish in gunny sacks trailed in the river. Fssst! The others stare. Impossible to muffle that sudden release of CO2 under pressure, the conspicuous pop! Sounds like a grenade attack. Incoming! Nobody here flinches but everyone knows who is drinking the beer. And who’s been hoarding it. Would be helpful if some clever lad invented a more discreet, a more genteel mode of opening beer cans. A soft, susurrant, suspiring sort of … s i g h … might serve nicely. A sound that could pass, let us say, for the relaxed, simple, artless fart of a duchess. Ingenuous. But our technology continues to lag behind genuine human needs.

–“Running the San Juan,” from Down the River

I love this image of Abbey the hardcase, on the morning following some hard drinking, when everyone’s hungover, shocking his fellow river rafters with this beer can and picturing a more private option. And how about that artless fart of a duchess? An image if I ever read one. The sound effects and the concepts tickle me. Who wants a beer?

2 Responses

  1. I have been busted by the sound of opening a beer early on the weekend. Once I was on my deck and popped one open and I heard my neighbor downstairs say, “Already.” She was a friend of mine, so I didn’t have to lie.

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