My tankard was given to me for my 18th birthday, by my grandma. It is a fairly standard pewter design, with my name engraved on the front. There are many reasons why it is superior to drink from than a normal glass. It does not break, it keeps things colder, it lasts longer, it even tastes better. But the one that beats them all is just the experience of pouring into it a beautiful golden ale, fresh out the fridge, and watching the condensation rise and grow up the sides. Call me a beer snob, but it is at this point in your life you know you are living the good life.
For one of my good friends, something that has seemed to stick deeply in her memory, is the time she first met me, when I was with my tankard. I was at a normal flat party, in the first year of university, chatting as usual and drinking. Because the party was just upstairs I had taken my tankard along to the party and was drinking out of it - most people there had already seen it.
This memory probably stuck in her memory because she didn't really know what to think. Was this nerdy? Was it weird, old-fashioned? Was it pretentious? Was it cool? It seems she must have settled on something positive at least, but I think this is probably a common experience on meeting me. On the first day of university I took a bottle of wine to share with flatmates rather than a crate of beer. My main hobby is game art - obscure, artistic, geeky. Completely unintentionally I've turned out geeky but not quite a geek, quirky but not quite cool. I ride that line which I think so many others are trapped in - trapped because they don't have the ability to, or simply have no wish to, settle either side. I think everyone eventually rises onto this ridge, though not everyone will be getting tankards.
Most people, when staying true to themselves, and that little unsettled kid they were raised as, will have to sacrifice cool for something. Some people get pretty far into their life, with a small number of sacrifices, but in the end everyone is forced to give in. Cool is cheating - it's too hard. Cool doesn't have to sleep...or poop. And Cool certainly doesn't have to cry.
And then geekdom, which is easy, accepting and friendly. But it is comforting like getting a hug from someone else's mum. You can't live there. It isn't your home. And so geekdom too must eventually go. Any group membership - anything stronger than you, anything you are submissive to, inferior or in debt to. All this stuff definitely has to go. In the face of individualism neither cool, nor geek should hold sway over you.
We're born alone and we'll die alone. But in my mind that's sort of ok, because when I go, I'll be buried with my tankard.