Aug 15

Everybody will try to tell you that the hardest part of a break-up is the crushing devastation you experience when you lose the person to whom you’ve given your heart, and your heart along with it.

Everyone is wrong. Obviously, the real tragedy you’ll encounter is losing his friends, who turn out to be much cooler than he is. Because as delightful as you may be, they’re his friends, and thus their loyalties lie ultimately with him.

My ex-boyfriend had such a devoted entourage that he sent forth one of his minions on a quest to collect a camping chair he’d left at my house following our break-up. Never mind that his minion neglected to bring as collateral the items I’d left at his place, including a pristine stainless steel wine bottle stopper, the loss of which has devastated my attempts to split the consumption of a Ninkasi 22oz Believer ale into two evenings of indulgence. As I hurled the camping chair at the minion’s head gently handed over the camping chair to my ex’s loyal friend, we exchanged expletives pleasantries regarding the recent disintegration of my relationship.

Minion: I heard from a friend of your ex’s first cousin’s neighbor’s sister that you’ve been in contact with [name to be withheld for confidentiality]. You realize that [name to be withheld for confidentiality] was friends with [ex whose name not worth mentioning] first and thus he retains sole custody of friendship in the event of your break-up, which occurred yesterday at 2:00am PST at your place of residence.

Me: It’s true that I have been in contact with [name to be withheld for confidentiality] but I assure you I obtained prior permission for said contact from [ex whose name I’ve forgotten]. And while it’s true that [ex] and I may have briefly exchanged the requisite post-traumatic 24-hour period of grossly virulent emails, we are now on sufficiently amicable terms to allow continued contact with mutual friends.

Minion: I was unaware of cordial relations and remain skeptical that a treaty has been reached so soon after battle. I will consult [ex] and if it is determined that you speak the truth, I will begrudgingly allow continued contact with mutual friends. It will be noted in the post-breakup paperwork that these friendships belonged first to [ex] and thus [ex] may revoke your cavorting privileges with said friends at any time. Now kindly remove this camping chair from my head so I may take my leave.

And so it came to pass that at the culmination of our failed relationship, I was given the green light to maintain friendships with his friends, for which I was truly appreciative.

It is not always the case, however, that an ex will so generously invite you to remain included in his circle of friends. Moreover, there are those cases in which remaining within the circle of friends creates a false sense of hope, for one or both parties, of impending reconciliation. There is generally a legitimate reason for a break-up, a reason which can become easily clouded if 48 hours later you’re immersed in the same circle with the same ex, possessing the same feelings you held just 48 hours earlier.

So don’t immediately plunge into the same circle, no matter how comfortable and familiar it may feel. This advice is easiest to swallow if you’ve maintained your other friendships. Letting his friends become your primary friend group is like betting your life savings on a hand of poker before seeing your cards. You’re going to need that twenty dollars someday, and you’re going to need the friends to whom you can freely and privately bash your ex share your sad feelings about your recently imploded relationship.

For more break-up advice, act now and purchase Troi’s helpful handbook, “Breaking Up Is Not Hard To Do, But Staying Together Sure Is,” and receive tips on the latest break-up technologies, including via instant messenger, text message, and even by cleverly downloading a break-up song onto his iPod! Breaking up has never been so easy!

–Troi out

Aug 6

for a limited time only, more available than your average man

But a good beer is comparatively easy to find, especially if you live in Portland, which boasts more breweries per capita than any other city in the United States. So while you may not find the perfect man, the perfect craft beer may still be within reach.

If you’re wondering what makes a craft beer crafty, let me assure you that it has nothing to do with arts and crafts, which is quite a relief for someone such as myself whose 7th-grade arts & crafts teacher told the class my self-portrait looked like an alien (I thought it was a compliment—-I love science fiction—-until she flunked me), nor is a craft beer the kind of beer you drink to get over the trauma of being called an alien by your 7th grade arts & crafts teacher. Rather, a craft brewer is small (producing less than 2 million barrels of beer annually) and independent. And while 2 million barrels may not sound small to the last person who tried drinking 2 million barrels of beer, it is nonetheless relatively small when compared to a craftless beer corporation such as Anheuser-Busch, whose production well exceeds 100 million barrels annually. Most importantly, craft beers can be absolutely delicious, whereas I bet you’ve never heard someone say, while sipping on an Anheuser-Busch creation, “Oh, this Bud Light is absolutely delicious!” unless he was in a Superbowl commercial.

If you’ve yet to try it, my first suggestion is Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest lager. For those of you not familiar with Sierra Nevada’s beers, their most popular standard brew is probably their pale ale, and their winter offering, Celebration Ale, is definitely worth the celebration. Even their stout is far and away the best stout in a bottle I’ve yet to try. Their Summerfest lager is light (5.0 ABV) and hoppy without being overpoweringly so. I’m not typically a huge lager fan (I’ve heard they cut down trees), but this is a lager that appeals even to environmentally-friendly darker beer lovers such as myself.

If clearing forests isn’t your style, another craft beer to write home about (for me, I guess that would be the alien home planet from which my arts & crafts teacher thinks I sprouted) is Deschutes brewery’s 2010 Once a Decade Ale, which is more like Nine Times a Decade Ale for me when I add up the number of bottles I’ve purchased over the last few months. Vaguely reminiscent of a barleywine-style ale but without that sickeningly sweet finish, the Once a Decade Ale (also known as Jubel 2010) is 10% ABV, aged in oak pinot barrels, and is my favorite craft find of the year. And much like finding a good boyfriend, you won’t find another beer quite like it for at least a decade, so stock up on a few before they’re gone for good and break one open every couple of years to temper the dry spell. Speaking of opening your beer, the biggest trick to the Once a Decade Ale is its wax-dipped cap, which can be troublesome to open. I began with more conventional methods such as using a standard bottle opener. But when mainstream methods failed me, I panicked and resorted to biting, clawing, stabbing, and coaxing, while my roommate finally found success melting down the wax with a lighter. However, I’ve since seen effortless cap removals with your tried and true average bottle opener, so perhaps it was just me. It usually is.

So while choosing the right boy may be challenging, choosing the right craft beer is entirely possible—-if you’re fortunate enough to call Portland home.

–Troi out