A 14-year-old boy learns to not take his grandfather's beer.
|The Beer Lesson
It was a clear, crisp, and sunny Friday afternoon in March. Camden sat in front of the square desk nestled by the bay window in his room facing Silver Springs Avenue and Shoreline Drive. The bright sunlight streamed through the open window and casted bright spots across his Algebra textbook, notes, and homework. He sighed and rubbed his forehead to make the migraine disappear, but to no avail. He yawned, stretched in the rainbow-colored hard back chair, and shut off the medium-sized silver and gray radio that rested on the right side of the desk. He flipped his dog-eared math book shut and stood up. He walked to his bedroom door, opened it, switched the light off, and walked across the second-floor hallway to the U-shaped stairs. Camden descended the flight of stairs and headed toward the kitchen on the main floor of the mansion that his grandfather inherited when he was 26. He was going to grab a Diet Doctor Pepper but did not because he spotted something else.
He paused at the bottom of the stairs and glanced at the television in the living room to see what was on. A game show called Common Knowledge was playing on the Game Show Network, and Camden heard his father shouting some answers to questions that were being asked on the television. Camden smiled to himself and then entered the kitchen. Standing in front of the refrigerator, he opened it and saw several soda cans, a few Mountain Dew bottles, and some sparkling pink lemonade scattered about on the second and third shelves of the refrigerator. He reached for a can of Diet Doctor Pepper on the second shelf behind a Duke Mayonnaise jar that was half-full and spotted a bottle of Miller Lite. He was 14 years old. Temptation got the best of him, and he grabbed the beer.
Camden stood in front of the refrigerator and struggled to get the screw top off the glass beer bottle for several minutes. He walked over to a silverware drawer and snatched a can opener to help him get the bottle cap off. He huffed and puffed and finally succeeded. He returned the can opener to the silverware drawer. He placed the top on the counter, brought the beer to his mouth, and took a swig. The taste of the alcohol burned his mouth and he wanted to spit the beer out in the sink, but he did not want to be a coward, so he swallowed it instead. He coughed as the alcohol slid down his parched throat. He smacked his dry lips and rubbed his mouth with the back of his right hand, put the cap back on the bottle, and was about to return it to the refrigerator when he heard someone behind him cough.
“Enjoyed that, did you, grandson?” Cam’s grandfather, Leon, said, snarling.
“Grandpa! You scared me!” Cam said, jumping and almost dropping the beer bottle on the floor because his hand was sweaty due to the condensation dripping down the bottle.
Leon folded his arms across his chest, tapped his left foot impatiently, and shouted, “That’s my beer! Don’t take things that aren’t yours, you little thief!”
Cam frowned and started crying because he does not like being yelled at or being called names.
Joshua, Cam’s father, paused the live television show when he heard the loud commotion going on in the kitchen. He sighed, stood up, stretched, and strolled into the kitchen. He noticed his father facing Camden furiously and yelling at him for some reason.
“What on earth is going on between you two, Dad? Why are you yelling at my son?” Joshua asked, looking first at his father and then at Cam confused. Joshua noticed his son’s face was covered in tears.
Leon glared at Cam, and then said, “What are you waiting for, Cam? Go on! Tell your father what you did!”
“I was thirsty and wanted to get one of my cans of Diet Doctor Pepper, Dad. Honest! But while I was looking for one, I saw a glass bottle of beer, took it, and drank some. I’m sorry, Dad. I could not resist the amber color of the beer bottle,” Cam said, wiping some tears away from his eyes.
Leon stared at Cam in disbelief and snatched the bottle of beer from him. “I doubt that very much, Cam! Keep your grubby fingers off my beer!”
“Cam, you are 14, son. Did you really drink some of your grandfather’s beer?” Joshua said, staring at his son in shock.
Cam slowly nodded his head yes and fidgeted, shifting from standing on his left leg to standing on his right leg.
Joshua sighed then said, “When I was 13, son, I tried to toss out my Dad’s beer, but he caught me and got angry. A fight broke out between us, and I felt bad. I never did that again, son. You need to apologize to your grandfather.”
“Yeah, right he’ll apologize, Josh! He is a thief! You need to teach him a lesson in not stealing or taking things that do not belong to him, son,” Leon said, shaking his head in disgust.
Cam sighed heavily, looked at his grandfather and was about to apologize to him when
Leon wheeled around with the bottle of beer in his hand, stormed out of the kitchen, and stomped upstairs to the second floor and disappeared into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.
“It’s not good to get my father angry, Camden. Go upstairs and apologize to him, but first grab a Diet Doctor Pepper before you go,” Joshua said.
Camden reached into the refrigerator and snagged a soda pop. He then looked at his father and said, “I need help with my math homework, Dad. I’m reviewing linear equations and I am confused about how to graph them. I feel bad for what I did today. I learned my lesson about beer and not to take anything that doesn’t belong to me.”
Joshua smiled at his son and said, “Good, I’m glad you learned that. Just don’t do it again.”
“I won’t, Dad.” Camden said, nodding to his father before heading upstairs to apologize to his grandfather.
Joshua quietly followed his son to make sure he apologized to his grandfather.
Camden stood in front of his grandfather’s room on the third floor and stared at the door before he knocked on it several times. He waited three minutes before he heard a muffled voice say, “Who is it?”
“It’s me, Camden, Grandpa,” Camden said to the door. He was hoping that his grandfather would accept his apology, but he had a strange feeling that wouldn’t happen.
Leon opened his room door and saw his grandson standing there. “What do you want?” Leon said, sipping the beer he took from Camden earlier.
“I’m here to apologize for the whole beer situation, Grandpa,” Camden said, starting to sweat. He was uncomfortable standing there with his grandfather staring at him in silence. He just wanted to return to his room to finish his homework.
“I don’t accept your apology, Camden. You stole something from me, and that makes you a thief for life. That’s how I’ll always see you from now on!” Leon said, taking a swig of beer. Some liquid dripped down onto Leon’s chin and then onto the collar of his shirt. He swiped the liquid from his chin and happened to see his son standing near the stairs.
“What do you want, Josh? Are you here to punish your son or something? If not, then buzz off so I can get back to my show,” Leon said impatiently.
Camden turned toward his father, shrugged, and said, “I tried, Dad. But he didn’t accept my apology. I’m going to my room to finish my homework now to get my mind off this whole mess I created. Are you coming, Dad?”
“I’ll be there in a minute, son. I just want to talk to my Dad first, okay?” Joshua said, approaching his father after Camden left the third-floor hallway.
“Why didn’t you accept his apology, Dad?” Josh said, frowning.
“I didn’t believe he was sorry and that he won’t do it again, Josh. Once you steal something for the first time you might end up doing it again just for the thrill of it. Go help him with his homework, son.” Leon said, drinking more beer.
“Okay, I see.” Josh said, leaving his father to his beer and heading towards his son’s room on the second floor.
Joshua knocked on Camden’s door and waited for his son to answer.
“Who is it?” Camden called from inside his room.
“Your dad, son. I’m here to help you with your math, remember?” Joshua said, laughing after Camden opened his door.
“Oh, yeah, right. Come on in, Dad. You can sit in the rocking chair and I’ll sit in my rainbow-colored one.” Camden said, pointing to the rocking chair he had in front of the desk.
Josh walked in and sat down. He started rocking back and forth and smiled at the poster above his son’s desk.
“So, how are those pesky linear equations, Cam?” Josh asked, glancing over his sons notes trying to figure out what went where.
“Okay, so the linear equations themselves are tricky little buggers, Dad. After I work through an equation the first time, I go back to review it to see if I have missed a step or two or three, right? Here, I’ll show you,” Cam replied, pointing to different parts of each equation he has already worked on.
Both Cam and Josh tackled the equations and graphs for three hours following Cam’s textbook, notes, and notebook. Cam slammed his math book shut, yawned, and stretched. Josh yawned and stretched as well. They both looked at each other and laughed.
“Thanks for your help, Dad. I’m starving! What about you?” Cam said, rubbing his growling stomach.
“I was planning on making my famous meatloaf lunch. Would you like to help me, son? I’ll let you cook the mashed potatoes and peas, but leave everything else to me, okay.” Josh said, cracking his knuckles.
“I love your meatloaf, Dad! Oh, it’s Friday, which means it’s Game Night! Yay!” Cam said, suddenly jumping up and down.
Josh smiled at his son and rolled his eyes. “Oh, right. I forgot about Game Night, Cam. How about you help me cook lunch and then I’ll play up to three or four games with you tonight while we watch television, okay?”
Cam grinned and shouted, “Yeah! Alright! That’s a deal, Dad!”
They both returned to the kitchen, cooked Joshua’s famous meatloaf meal, and ate in front of the television watching game shows and playing games later on in the evening.