It’s an October weekday evening in the Philadelphia suburbs. The sun is out, and so are the cicadas—they’re buzzing something fierce. There are no cicadas back in London, my current home, or at least none I’ve ever encountered. Jays holler through the insect drone, and the bats will be out soon. For now, the sun slices across the lawn, ample with American health.
My parents, my brother, and me, we’re all outside on the deck, the thermostat licking just shy of 80 degrees. The ritual of my homecoming: a cheesesteak for each of us, wrapped in silver, ordered from the deli up the street complete with a life-sized, fiberglass bull standing sentinel out front.
The cheesesteak is not an aesthetically pleasing sandwich. You don’t know you want it until your canines are half-sunk into its yielding roll—Amoroso’s only, thank you. Each is heavy and sweating in its parcel, long as a baton. Wrinkled, pug-like, beef more grey than brown, but fused with melted cheese and coins of onion.
We eat them alongside cans of Funk Brewing Company’s Silent Disco. Last time I tried their beers, it was in the middle of winter, and we waited for two hours of foot-stomping chill in a parking lot in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, just to get our tiny allotment of Project Haze 003.
Now, this—an even newer IPA—is being contract-brewed by Great Central out of Chicago. No parking lots for us: we go straight to Wegmans and each pick up three four-packs, just maxing out the 192-ounce limit each Pennsylvanian must abide by when getting beer from the grocery store. Want more? For that, you gotta head to your state-owned and -operated distributor (or bring your first haul out to the car before coming back for round two).
Sure, the cans are tasting a little green. Give ’em a few weeks and they’ll unfurl. But today, they’re tight fists of orange and guava. We drink one, then another. A wasp investigates. Before it gets dark, we crumple up the silver parcels and they wink in the sunlight. Our knuckles are bright with grease. Gradually, the bats appear.