15 years ago the one and only Dope City Free Press began as a means to tell some stories about a man named Beer and his dog the Hammer. Soon other characters joined, characters which, like the Hammer filled Beer’s days with joy. Chief among those characters was Beer’s long time love Sonja.
Sonja and Beer met in 1967 when her oldest brother Henrik invited Beer over to his parent’s place after school to play marbles. Sonja was 3, Beer was 8. Sonja’s mom tried to keep her Shirley Temple lookalike daughter from playing with the boys that day and for many years afterwards. Sonja was always real good about listening to her mom but was deaf to the no playing with boys shit. Her mom was right of course. Over the years Sonja suffered many injuries playing with the boys. Her dad, tasked with taking his girl to the hospital, would always stop at the Dairy Queen on the way home once the doctors had fixed her up.
When Sonja was 14 her mom died. The next couple years were tumultuous for her as a result. Her dad re-married poorly and soon his second wife drank up their savings and the proceeds of the family home sale. Still she was determined to overcome this setback and make a good life for herself.
Beer meanwhile was living a life that made Sonja’s stepmom look like Mary of Guadalupe. He was taking on whatever sawmill work he could find and living like there was no tomorrow. Still friends with Henrik he could not help but notice Henrik’s tomboy little sister becoming more attractive and more feminine. At a New Year’s party they found themselves attracted to one another. Beer walked her home that evening and began questioning his life plan which was to remain a bachelor until he retired should he surprise everybody and live that long.
Shortly thereafter, on a snowy, blustery day Beer spotted Sonja returning home on the sidewalk from the neighbourhood mall’s concourse where he was sheltering from the storm. Sonja was carrying several bags of groceries, her body bent into the wind. “Fuck is that admirable,” he thought as he followed her out of sight. Beer admired many things but none more than a willingness to work hard in poor conditions.
Later that evening Beer phoned Sonja and asked her out on a date on St. Valentine’s Day. She accepted. Beer was a cute crazy fucker after all. Their dinner date was at a new restaurant in town. The first fancy restaurant their working class neighbourhood had ever seen. They fell in love that night. A love that would last just shy of 40 years.
The pair soon shacked up together and lived well, you might even say they lived the Canadian Dream, despite the trying economic times they lived in. Sonja’s practicality balancing Beer’s Jerry Jeff Walker act to perfection.
Sonja died in hospice on September 26, 2020 after a valiant 6 year battle with cancer. Beer is always going to love her. Near the end of her life she told Beer's mom and stepdad, "Your son is a good man. He's a really good man." Beer never set out to be anything more than that. He will miss Sonja until the day he too makes his way to the other side.