#fridayflash : man of mystery

Who are you, Stella Artois man? Every time I go to a general admission show, like at the Phoenix or the Docks, there you are, walking around with a three-quarters-full glass of Stella Artois, logo on the glass self-consciously turned out. And it works, because all the friends I've ever gone to hear a band with notice that glass first before they notice you. You are a walking cup-holder, a movable product placement. If the lights are up and the band's not on, you pace around the floor, crossing in front of the crowd's vision, always keeping that mostly-full glass of beer prominent. I've never seen you drink from it. I've never seen you order it from the bar. And I've definitely never seen anyone else with glass walking about. The rest of us sip from the same semi-clear plastic cups that renders even the choicest brew unappealing. Spit sticks to the rim of the cup. Lipstick smears instantly. The cups themselves get soft and difficult to hold once the crowd reaches critical mass and the air warms up. But not you. You have a Stella Artois glass.

But who are you, Stella Artois man? If you're a walking advertisement, you're a strange one. You show up at music gigs, the most gregarious sort of public entertainment out there (save sports), yet you are always alone. The people from Sleeman Beer act like they're the best friend you haven't met yet, and breezily shout "Cheers!" over the noise as they hand out samples. Steam Whistle Brewery has reps at countless art and cultural events, and they always act like they're there for the show and oh, right, they're working as well. Not you. You don't circulate through the crowd so much as navigate it. The few times you've realised figuring out what the hell you're doing is my pre-opening-act entertainment, you've looked actually frightened. Men don't seem to scare you as much, but neither do you talk to them. It makes a certain amount of marketing sense to replace you with a robot.

So who are you, Stella Artois man? Winter or summer, you'll be there in a tan leather jacket, a white shirt with thin red stripes, blue jeans that are probably Levis. The bands I go to hear attract all kinds of people, a cross-section of fashion style, income level, and music preferences. We are music lovers as a pack of licorice all-sorts, always different but somehow consistent in our geeky fixations on what we enjoy. But not you. Same clothes, same haircut, same solitude, same glass filled three-quarters full. I've seen your face when the house lights start to go down. You look like you're turning off, not on.

And this, finally, is why I wonder so much about you: you don't look like you actually like music, not any of the music played by the bands whose shows I've seen you at. You look like you'd be much happier with those brown loafers off your feet and the tan jacket off your shoulders, sitting in some downtown apartment's living room, watching the evening news and its stock market round-up with the glass of Stella perched on an end-table.

I wanted to make a fiction from you: a space alien trying to fit in long enough to study cultural rituals, or an ancient Mesopotamian beer god lost in nostalgia and dejection for modern-method vat brewing. A wizard with a magic potion, or a superhero undercover, making sure everyone makes it through the show safely. But none of these are as strange as you; all of them are more decipherable.

You are a fixture that doesn't fit. So who are you?