Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pouring Kölsch

Last weekend we had a little party. It was time to invite the neighbors in and warm the house, so there was much preparation and cleaning and putting away all the things you don’t feel the neighbors need to see. It was also the second anniversary of our move to Germany and that was something that needed celebrating.

HH was all excited and in honor of the occasion he put on is Airline Pilot’s uniform, replete with the cap that is far too big and he set about greeting the guests and taking them on a tours of the apartment. But what really got me was when he pulled a chair over from the kitchen table and started pouring Kölsch from the keg we had set up on the kitchen sink. Like an old master he took the delicate glasses in his small hands and turned the tap just right and drew out beer after beer for his “customers” as he called them. He had only seen it done once before, by his Uncle Peter, who is an old hand at tapping kegs and pouring Kölsch. There is a real art to it – getting the head just right – and the locals like their beer just so! But HH is a quick study and so he stood there on his perch and made his contribution as the small host of the night. The only problem was that he kept on pouring beer even after his customers had been served. I was busy preparing food and greeting guests and so when I wandered back into the kitchen at some point I saw a long and growing line of Kölsch glasses, filled and ready for takers. I tried to explain to HH that the beer wouldn’t hold once it was poured but he didn’t quite understand the point I was trying to make so he stood down from is post and wandered back into the living room. I felt bad about it the next day, there was plenty of beer – too much in fact – and it wouldn’t have hurt anything if I had just let him keep pouring the stuff. It was another example for me – an illustration of what is important and what isn’t. These small moments of triumph for HH, when he is at the center of things and doing something that the grown-ups pay attention to, when he masters a small art - these things are much more important than the fact that he might waste some beer. I’ll not soon forget the image of my four-year-old son pouring beer for his neighbors. I only wish I had been a bit more patient, so the moment could have lasted just a little longer.

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