Friday, October 16, 2009

Streets Are For People (Who Drink Beer)

It's no secret that I find a lot of my most-cherished possessions the same way homeless people find some of their food: on the side of the road, or in someone else's garbage. Oh, don't make that face. I'm not rooting through a Dumpster behind a truck stop on Route 66. Student living equals a whole lot of turnover in the roommate situation, and students are fond of moulting their possessions rather than packing them. Hence, I get a lot of free shit.

For example, I scored most of my summer wardrobe from boxes people abandoned in our basement. Sweet little linen pants, hoodies from expensive-when-new stores, sparkly tank tops, hot pants, cardigans and more. Some of these things were disasters, including the deconstructed praire-girl dress that looked cute in theory but gave me an ass the size of Montana. No problem, since the price is right and the return policy is "I'll just put it back on the side of the road." I scored a totally on-point pair of boyfriend jeans about three weeks before that trend was all over Katie Holmes. Thanks a bunch, neighbour!

It's not just clothes. I've grabbed books. Former housemates once brought home a VHS copy of Tremors 3, courtesy of some short-sighted chump who ditched it. How many hours of glee did that provide us with? Many. Notably, I've also scored a ghetto blaster. This was awesome, since I still had mixed tapes from high school. The ghetto blaster was also used as seduction aid by an ex-boyfriend, who made me a mixed tape during our courtship. In the age of the burned CD, it was 100% charming and retro. (Are the 1980s retro? Am I old enough to remember an age which is now considered retro? Damn.)

My parents are mystified by this. They think it's weird that I would cart home a jacket that I had found in a snowbank. Their confusion is an sham, though, since it clearly runs in my blood. My mom is fond of bringing home every piece of furniture abandoned on the side of the road (usually due to irredeemable ugliness), to be recovered "later." My grandpa used to squirrel away everything: broken alarm clocks, costume jewelry, TV dinner tables. When it comes to side-of-the-road shopping, I am purebred bloodhound. (Not like this, though.)

Anyway, last night my taste for the free encountered my taste for beer, and the results weren't pretty. My pal, who is also an incorrigible street picker (she calls it curb-scoring, which always reminds of seediness in that world's-oldest-profession sort of way), found some Portuguese beer on the side of the road. Last night, we drank it.

In our defense: it was unopened. Glass bottles aren't permeable. It wasn't going to be poisoned. For the prosecution: so very, very expired. It tasted less like beer, and more like rum that had been brewed by blind pirates in 1876. It was not delicious. But, since we had already had a few at a bar, we decided to slug some down and hope for the best.

Gather round, children, and allow Auntie Kaitlyn to lay some good advice on you: don't drink expired beers you find on the street. Attend all the pancake keggers you get invited to. Drink the prairie fires your sadistic friends order you on your birthday. Hell, wear that unflattering dress you found in your best friend's aunt's attic. Plug in the toaster oven you found on the side of the road - I'm sure the electrical shock will be bracing! But stay away from Portuguese street beers, because while you will feel like the bang/buck ratio isn't great ("I feel sober...I must be sober"), the hangover is remarkably unpleasant. Like God himself has decided to give the contents of your brainpan a brisk stir.

I'll keep picking up the excellent clothing options that those fly-by-night students leave behind, and I'll keep chancing it with the electronics and (probably moldy) books. But I have a new rule: street beers are a no-go. From now on, only items that don't have an expiration date are coming home with me.

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