A&W Root Beer - Quenches Popcorn Thirsts on Hot Days, and Continues Carnival Romances
A&W Root Beer. Cold, with aged vanilla. The taste is familiar, sweet... a flavor we all knew just moments after leaving the womb. The can's metal has changed throughout the years, but its inner truth remains. My mettle, though, to sip from it again quivers.
In my hand is a crushed can. Empty, of course, as it has been for three years when it fell half full. I found it almost buried under mud and thistle, barely revealed in the sun.
Until yesterday, the can rested aside the bench near where the popcorn stand barkers clamored their chorus. I met Nancy in line just as the county fair was closing for the season. She was traveling, she said, through town on business, and I was just traveling, though this was my hometown. I never learned which town was hers, or what she did, but I knew she loved gardenias. She had never seen one, but was she sure would if she did. I never met anyone with her quiet smile, and stammered in awe that we might sit for a while. We did.
The heat of August, and the popcorn's salty butter gave way to root beer. There is no nutrition in A&W Root Beer. Just 170 calories and a bit of sodium. Not much more. I bought us each one, and we talked until the light's turned off. She looked at her watch, and ran, dropping her drink. She never said good-bye.
No one has sat there since. Why would they? The fair moved elsewhere, and now, it is just a lot with occasionally mowed weeds. I found it while wandering.
I hosed the can off, now flat and wrinkled but fully colored. "Since 1919" it says in brown letters. Three years is long enough. 99 years? I don't know what to do with it. I never did.
May your root beer always be cold, and your time be eternal.