One of my favorite duties as a platoon leader was “Right Arm Night” – the practice of an officer taking his platoon sergeant (his “right arm”) out for a beer late on a Friday afternoon after a particularly hard week at work. Despite the fact that I am a nondrinker I feel it is one of the best of the army’s traditions and is great for morale and cohesion. My own platoon sergeant SSG Kraft would nurse his beer while I’d knock back a Shirley Temple1 as we’d share ideas just as valuable as the more technical conversations we’d engage in during duty hours.
My platoon leader days are long past but I have friends that I relate to in much the same way I did with SSG Kraft. Some of these men are friends of long standing dating back to my sophomore year in high school, but I’ve also more recent but equally solid friendships with current neighbors, recent students, and fans of my work. The only drawback to this newer group is the manner in which they are scattered all over the country, which precludes a group activity anything like a “right arm night”.
For instance, Damen DeLeenherr lives in British Columbia. He’s a family man working in the healthcare industry, but in his free time he’s building a home for his family and plays Battletech. Battletech is a tabletop miniatures game involving giant fighting robots, the development of which I was heavily involved with in the late 1980’s. Damen commissioned a Battletech-themed piece of art a couple of years ago, and since that time we’ve gotten to be such good friends that I think of him as another nephew.
It was Damen’s birthday a week or so ago, and while I wanted to give him a birthday present I didn’t plan very well – anything I found on line would be almost a week in getting to him. The puzzle just got all that more challenging because as the day went by I realized that what I really wanted to do was buy Damen a beer. The resemblance wasn’t screamingly obvious at first but he brings to mind a new millennium SSG Kraft with tattoos and 21st century haircut, and a brew seemed more appropriate than the totally tacky cash option I’d finally settled on…but there wasn’t much I could do to get some suds to him.
Then I got to thinking.
You can deliver send/receive flowers in the space of a single day – why can’t we do that with beer? Picture a network of brewmeisters scattered all over the globe but linked with telephone and Internet like FTD or Candygram. Place an order through a local dealer before noon and by the end of the day your buddy could be knocking back a cold one. The idea is still in its infancy but I did come up with some names for the business.
I just have to remember to include Shirley Temples as one of the options.
- A nonalcoholic drink comprised of Ginger ale and a splash of grenadine garnished with a maraschino cherry. Kraft always maintained that I had more class than most tee-totalers: “While they get soda pop you order a mixed drink!”
(Props to Marty Calderone for nudging me back in front of the keyboard. It’s been extremely difficult getting back into the creative saddle since my “second go-around” but Marty’s words of encouragement have helped immensely)