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The Tap-to-Tap Challenge

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and enemies…It’s time to be baffled and amazed as The Bay Area Brit takes you on a quick journey of San Franciscan self-deprecation to lows you’ve never seen before, unless you’ve spent time kissing the rain gutters of this fair city.

Picture if you will, a sprightly jaunt, two blocks downhill on Fillmore Street to my former favorite haunt, (what was once) the greatest English pub San Francisco has ever seen: The Mad Dog In The Fog.

The days were daring, my friend. I saw myself as single and carefree. Nothing concerned my idle ways. Beer was my love during these saddest of times. Sure, I loved my female, beer-buddy sidekick, as I always do—whomever fills those shoes. The female sidekick allowed me to have the feminine companionship I craved without the complications that came in a “relationship.”

If one staggers around alone after a few too many pints, the chances are quite high that a bad choice in decision-making is around the corner. The female sidekick deters you from such moments of poor judgment—especially in the amour department. Because ultimately, one of the jobs of the sidekick, is to call you on your drunken shit, like when you’re in a darkened corner with what you thought was a hot chick but turns out to be an ATM machine.

Armed with a stack of cash, I told the bartender that I wanted to drink one of every single one of the 21 different varieties of beer on tap. I would start with the first tap and make my way around. If you think I’m kidding, you do not know The Bay Area Brit.

The bartender knew me, and while my statement of intent was met with a raised eyebrow, she wouldn’t have to decide for an hour or two just when she would have to cut me off.

The plan (excuse for trying this) was to assess each of the beers on tap and review them. There were many that I had never tasted. The smart thing to do would have been to sample the beer I had never tried first, so I would definitely know if I had discovered a new favorite brew. Scratch that: The smart thing to do would be not to attempt this dumb feat at all.

 I ordered the first beer and took a sip and felt my phone buzz. It was my female sidekick: a feisty, pretty, young sparkplug named Corie. I told her what I was attempting.

“This I’ve got to see,” she said. “Don’t do anything stupid until I get there.”

“You had better hurry then,” I laughed.

Corie showed up sporting a massive grin, and hopped on the barstool next to me.

“So what beer are you on now?” I raised one hand with some fingers extended.

“Four! You’re only at four?”

“I’m pacing myself.”

“They close in six hours, you’d better pick it up a bit.”

The funny thing was, Corie made no attempt to talk me out of this. For her, this would be fun, well at least until I became indecipherable. The bartender knew at this point that she wouldn’t have to cut me off. Corie and I lived a few blocks apart and she would make sure I got home safely. Although in retrospect: I had eight inches and probably eighty pounds on Corie. How would she carry me two blocks uphill?

In my mind, having Corie there with me somehow legitimized what I was doing as fun and not insanely stupid. Had she not been there, I would have been just another sad and depressed drunken Englishman, hell bent on self-destruction because he could never find a girfriend that would a) put up with him, or b) that he loved being with as much as his favorite sidekick.

For the next few hours during The Tap-To-Tap Challenge, Corie and I laughed, while I sank further and further into inebriation. As she always did, when she’d had a few beers, she would try and stick a finger in my ear or try to put a digit up my nose or grab my hand and make me slap myself. I never knew why she would want to do this (or put her finger in these places), but the wrestling that would ensue would make sure we burst into foolish drunken laughter.

After a while, (I was trying to choke down Beer #15) I could sense Corie was getting bored, because I hadn’t made any progress from Beer #14 to #15 in half an hour. I believe #15 was a hearty, brown bitter served at room temperature. There was no way this was going to go down and stay down.

I wasn’t feeling so great. I slurred to Corie that I had trained my whole life for this moment. How was it possible that I couldn’t do this?

Corie said, “Come on let’s get you home.” I vaguely remember taking a long route back home falling upwards, while Corie guided me laughing hysterically as she negotiated a comparative giant noodle of a human up the hill.

The next morning, through the cobwebs of a brutal hangover, I knew what Corie had done. She knew that I needed help, and she knew that she could never talk me out of my foolish attempt, and so she came down to the pub, not just to keep me company, but to make sure that I was going to be all right at the end of it.

A few weeks after the Tap-To-Tap Challenge, Corie and I would be side-kicking it together at The Mad Dog when I would be introduced to a woman who would eventually become my wife.

Corie told me later that while she was happy for me, she was also sad, because she knew that it was the end of “us” as we knew it.

Not only was it the end of “us,” it seemed like it was the end of me needing a female sidekick to save me from myself.

Two weeks ago, at the age of 34, Corie Woods suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. I don’t know how or why it happened. At the time of writing this, I don’t believe there are any definite answers.

I have a hundred wonderful memories of time spent with her. The Tap-To-Tap Challenge was perhaps the silliest. She was as special to me as she was to everyone who knew her.

I will always love you, my little sidekick.

R.I.P. Corie

15 Responses

  1. Very nice, and funny and touching. I didn’t know her, but if you liked her, that is more than enough for me. The fact that she still makes you happy is quite a testament to her good graces.

  2. Nicely done.

  3. When you lose your buddy, it’s as if your insides have been moved or something. Nothing is as it was…not even your own bodily functions. The phonetext whatever…all falls silent. I am so sorry for your loss, BAB.
    Communication is found in your quiet moments. Enjoy a laugh and feel the love. I lost my pal a long time ago and haven’t found the person to replace him yet. It’s ok…I’m surrounded by love. Life and family. I wish you peace.

  4. thanks for telling of a special time and friend

  5. that sudden twist at the end has left me gobsmacked. and more than a little teary-eyed.

    the world is a little sadder when such a bright spirit leaves.

  6. thanks for that. xx

  7. Just want to thank you for sharing this story of my daughter Corie. It makes me smile every time I read it. Somehow, I visualize every expression and gesture. Very cute and so Corie. We appreciate the fact you took the time to write this, it means so much to us. Thanks again. Sandy Woods

    • Sandy, it means so much to me that you love the story. It’s my favorite one to re-read, and the emotion of it still takes me by surprise. She was so important to so many people. Much love to you. Xxxx

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