Meeting Maddy

“The Brewer’s Backstory” – Episode 14

January 2005

The Brewer's Justice cover

Coming January 2016!

January 10, 2005, Day One CU spring semester 2005. Mother Nature welcomed students back with several inches of fresh snow and a bitter wind from the west that picked up speed as it swooped down the Flatirons and into Boulder. The high noon sun shone bright in the cloudless sky, intensifying the rusty red color of the sandstone mountains from which Funky Flatirons Brewery took its name. On a day like this, it was hard to remember that when the semester ended, Boulder would be awash in color—green grass, green leaves on trees and bushes, flowers in every color imaginable.

Hungry and lacking the patience to plod along in the mass of students on the sidewalk, Brad cut across the snow-covered lawn. The new hiking boots his parents had given him for Christmas kept his feet warm and dry. It felt good to see so much activity again. The campus had looked like a ghost town for the last few weeks. Because half the Funky Flatirons employees were students who all wanted to go home for the break, Brad had done his part, working until Christmas Eve day. His vacation was interrupted four days later when Ted, the brewpub owner/manager had called and begged him to work the evening shift because Sean, the line cook, had called in sick.

Of course, Brad went. Staying on Ted’s good side mattered. Ever since the day last November when Jeremy, the assistant brewer, panicked because his wife went into early labor and Brad rescued the porter brew, Ted and everyone else at Funky Flatirons had treated him differently. Ted had promised him a job in the brewery the day he turned twenty-one. The next ten months couldn’t pass fast enough for Brad.

“Beer Man, wait up!”

“Hey, buddy, how’s it going?” Brad said as Blake, a junior Chem Eng major from California caught up.

“Man, three weeks of warm weather and shorts. Coming back to the snow is rough. You should come to San Diego with me at spring break. There’s a brewery like every half mile. You’d love it.”

“As soon as I turn twenty-one, I might take you up on that.”

“I forget you’re a sophomore. You were like one of the best students in class full of juniors last semester. Plus, that beard you started before Thanksgiving break is really growing. No mustache?”

“I discovered I can’t grow a decent one. The beard’s pretty patchy, too. I don’t know how much longer it’ll last.”

“Don’t shave it all off at once. Experiment with a goatee.”

“Too high maintenance for me.”

“Hey, I’m on my way over to The Hill to grab a burger. Want to come?”

“Sure, I’ve got forty minutes before my next class.”

There wasn’t a free table when they walked into The Sink. “Blake, over here!” The first thing Brad noticed about the woman waving them over was her hair. It was loose and fell like a blond curtain well below her shoulders. She interrupted her wave to hook a straw-colored lock over one ear before standing up to hug Blake. “It’s so good to see you.”

“Same here,” Blake said, looking like he meant it. “Maddy, this is Brad.”

“Nice to meet you,” she said, offering her hand. How many women at CU shook hands?

“Likewise, Maddy,” Brad replied, noticing her blue eyes. Her hand felt small and soft in his, but her handshake was firm and confident. She came off as a together person who knew where she was going in life. Brad was more aware than ever of how scraggly his beard looked. He knew that once he shaved it off, he’d see how seriously his hair was in need of a cut, too. He wasn’t making a good first impression.

“Blake,” Maddy said, “you just missed Sarah. I’ve got to go in a few minutes, but sit down. I want to hear all about your break.” She patted the chair beside her, “Brad, have a seat.”

By the time their burgers came, Blake and Maddy were thick into their winter break stories, wth Maddy throwing Brad just enough questions to keep him involved in the conversation. She was definitely an extrovert, nothing shy about her. He wondered if she kept her chair and leg so close to every guy she sat beside. He was fairly certainly she and Blake were just friends, but not sure enough to make any moves yet.

“Did you manage to get in some brewing time over the break?” Blake asked, drawing Brad’s attention away from Maddy’s jean-covered legs.

“A couple of times when I was home with my dad.”

Brad was accustomed to the questioning look on Maddy’s face. He got it most often after saying, “I’m a brewer,” and some stranger would look confused, followed by, “A what?”

“I homebrew beer,” he explained before Maddy could ask.

“Wow, that’s really cool!”

He was also used to the pause while the stranger tried to think of something more to say. “You a beer drinker?” he asked, helping bridge the gap.

She turned toward him and her knee bumped his leg. “Yes. I mean sort of. Mostly at parties, you know?” Brad knew. She probably drank a couple of beers a year.

She gathered her hair, pulled it back, then dropped it. With that hair close enough for him to touch and her knee still against his leg, the half-eaten burger in front of him didn’t seem important. “You look more like a wine drinker,” he said.

Her face relaxed into a smile. She turned in her seat so that both of her knees touched his leg. “Well, truthfully, yes I am. I mean, I like beer, but you know, with all the calories in it, I try to stick to wine. I’d love to try some of your beer sometime, though.”

Brad stifled a laugh and let his leg relax against her knees. She didn’t know jack about beer, but he had plenty of beer friends. This woman was incredibly sexy and confident.

“Hello, Beer Man,” Blake said, “are you going to ask for her phone number or what? By the way, your next class starts in five minutes.”

“Shoot, really? Brad asked, jumping to reach for the phone in his back pocket. The instant he pulled his leg away from Maddy’s knees, a bond, more than just physical, broke. It was one he intended to recreate. Very soon.


  1. Jackie Fobes says:

    Leslie, I met you through Kathi and HGL. I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your writings. You are a really good writer.

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