Beer Helmet Dude
“For most people who’ve had an invention of theirs patented, it’s their crowning achievement.
But for my Dad, it was the bane of his existence.
Dad’s invention? You probably know it as the ‘beer helmet’.
But it didn’t start out that way. When Dad originally outfitted that old plastic batting helmet he’d found in the garage with cup holders and straws, he was simply trying to figure out a way to keep himself hydrated throughout the day while keeping both his hands free.
Yes, he drank water from his helmet. Dad was a health nut who was big on the “at least eight glasses of water a day” thing. He was also a Renaissance man; keeping his hands free was important to him so he could spend his days building, tinkering, reading, drawing, playing music, exercising, whatever else caught his fancy at any given time of any day. And he was an eccentric, the kind of person who thought nothing of wearing the goofy-looking helmet day in and day out.
Beer was the last beverage he would’ve thought to put in the helmet, and his biggest mistake was assuming that, once his invention was made available to the masses, others would find uses for it as sensible as his.
‘But instead’, he’d sneer, ‘my invention has become the symbol of fat, loud, drunken oafs at sporting arenas the world over. I rue the day that someone thought to put beer–BEER!–in those cup holders, and I’d like to tar and feather the person who first did it. I wish a pox on that man, a POX!’
What made matters worse was that, over the years, people would find out that Dad was the inventor of the drinking helmet (long after he’d stopped wearing and promoting it himself, lest others mistakenly think of him as the ‘drunken oaf’ he’d railed against). These people would show up at the house, wearing helmets, totally plastered, yelling, ‘BEER HELMET DUDE–WOOOOO!’ in the general direction of our living room before passing out in the hedges.
It pained Dad being ‘Beer Helmet Dude’, having alcoholics yelling at his family and vomiting on the lawn, feeling guilty that his invention had enabled their behavior.
Which is why he ended up donating every penny he made from the helmet to Alcoholics Anonymous.
That decision never sat well with me–it was A LOT of money he ended up giving away, money I would have inherited–and I grew to resent Dad…a lot. I rebelled in many ways.”
And at this point, Sam paused. He was getting to the hardest part of his story.
“I rebelled against Dad by embracing the very thing he loathed. I thought I was getting back at him, but I was just ruining my own life; I finally see that now.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, thanks Dad, for donating all that money; it may very well be the reason this group in this town exists and why I’m here looking to make things right. And also, my name is Sam, and I’m an alcoholic.”