Several times a year my wife and I travel to Pittsburgh to visit her family and friends. There is a rhythm to these visits and usually begins with a party the first night. Several hours of catching up on events in everyone's lives while each enjoys their favorite beverage, which in most cases is a popular American beer. The fun continues for hours and then around 10:30 to 11:00 pm, the crowd thins out.
And then the party really starts.
Always with this proclamation.
“I'm having my Capper”.
This sounds like just one more and then I'm going to bed. In reality it's a signal that the first of many will be popped open. I think at the time they really mean it, it's really their intention to be “one and done”. Just never works out that way. And I've learned that capper is actually plural. No 's’ is needed. Like moose.
A little while later, when the capper is gone, out comes the second phrase of the drinking dance.
“Would you like to share a Splitter?”.
This is intended to sound like things are really starting to slow down. They'll each just have half a can. Then they try to decide what they like in common, so they could actually share one. Back and forth a few times and no agreement is reached, which is not unexpected since they don't like the same thing in the first place. So they each decide to have a full one instead. Just not quite ready to call it quits.
Actually, far from it.
Then after that two, or more, beer introduction, all pretense is cast aside and the sound of pop tops popping becomes more frequent. I think it's like a second beer wind. And it's a brisk tailwind indeed.
While no more excuses are made, there are a few words that describe the action.
This is pouring just a little beer into the bottom of your glass, making it look like you're close to the finish line. I think it's more like serving small portions to children to get them to eat more. They can sneak up on their livers and it won't know what's coming.
Somewhere along this real party timeline a beer will quickly disappear, or get slammed. Similar to eating quickly allows you to eat more, slamming a beer overcomes the stomach's desire to cut you off.
Inevitably somebody has to suggest a shooter, perhaps a Little Beer, Little Guinness or some Irish Whiskey. This has to be well-timed, situated after the Capper and Splitter to gain everyone's agreement that it's a good idea, but before the later stages when they know the true end is near. Timing is everything.
Usually occurring after the Shooter, people start taking little sips of beer, stretching out the evening that they're enjoying more than ever.
My favorite, it’s a clever way of disguising that you’re opening yet another can of beer, perhaps a bit too quickly, so you synchronize a cough as you’re pulling the tab. Done well, and frankly this group has had a fair amount of practice, you can completely muffle the “tssst”.
Part of what fuels the evening is having enough people that it's impossible for everyone to finish their beer at the same time. You've just finished yours and you notice someone else has just started another, so of course you open another one too. Not to would be considered rude. But the end has to come, so one or two people do the group one final favor and they hammer down their nearly full can. Bless them.
“Quitter” and “Goner”
Someone's going to be found sleeping on a coach, upright, during the latter stages of the party. If they've left beer in their can, it's a quitter. If they finished it, it was a goner, the one that took them down.
Finally, good nights are exchanged and the party is concluded.
When morning comes, it begins with an equally predictable proclamation.
“We're not doing that again tonight!”.