Tag Archives: alcohol

Hey Manhattan!

I’m getting old, and I can tell. “How?” you ask. Well, it’s not that my beard is greying rapidly, it’s not that the music is too loud and I can’t make out the words, nor is it that I’m about to become intimately acquainted with my physician’s middle digit. It’s alcohol. Allow me to explain; like most people my drinking career began at 16 with beer, usually a little too much, but even at the height of my powers, never more than the average touring Australian rugby team. Whisky followed eventually, blends at first and as my palate developed I moved on to single malts, which, whilst much more expensive at least have the virtue of not being designed to be imbibed for effect. Another virtue of whisky is that it is the only vice which allows you to express a preference for 12 year olds without the risk of being lynched.

I assume that this is the way of things; as one ages, one’s palate becomes more sophisticated, drinking becomes much more of a social lubricant and less of an end in itself and the quantity is inversely proportional to quality. So it is with me. When I was dating regularly, I found myself in plenty of establishments where beer was not the main option, and over time I developed tastes that I had never expected; cocktails. Yup.  I grew up in an environment in which Gin and Tonic was a “Woman’s drink”, and that was about as exotic as drinks came, except for the occasional Port and Lemon, Rum and Peppermint or Rum and Coke, so you can imagine my social dissonance at finding myself selecting from a list of drinks completely alien to my drinking past. It doesn’t go down too well in certain circles to be seen drinking a pint, even if that is what puts you most at ease, and much against expectation I developed a taste for Manhattans and other such exotica.

Fast forward to last month. I decided that given the propensity for cocktails in this part of the world, I had better get myself into gear and set myself up with the requisite mixology accoutrements. This may not sound like a big step to most people, but let me explain by saying that when married, the main requirement of a drink was that it’s creation be silent. There were times when the sound of  ice dropping into a glass would be enough to wake one of the kids, and by the time we sat down a drink was sorely needed, so nothing that could interrupt the process could be considered.

This is why I sat down one day with four cocktail books and picked out a dozen recipes that appealed to me and constructed a spreadsheet to track which spirits and mixers I would need to buy.  Simple enough, but the tough part was the shopping. Glassware is hideously expensive, and having to buy six of each style – Collins, High Ball, Martini and Marguerita put a dent in my budget all by itself before I’d bought so much as a single bottle. Rather than go into detail, suffice it to say that the staff at BevMo! must have thought all their Christmases had come at once when I finally pushed my heavily laden cart to the checkout and began unloading. Needless to say, when I saw the bill I needed a stiff drink there and then lest I pass out from shock. However, I made it home intact and my sweetie and I indulged ourselves in an evening of sampling. I have to admit that for a first timer, I didn’t do too poorly ( not for the first time), but little did I know that I was about to face the moment of truth.

Ramos Fizz. Sound familiar? Not to me it didn’t. My sweetie has a penchant for this drink, being a big fan of New Orleans, and she insisted that I make some. She provided me with a list of ingredients that at first glance looked more like a recipe for a  cake  than a cocktail. Still, I took it all in good humour and I have to say that I passed the test! The end product, which tastes like melted vanilla ice cream with gin in it was met with approval  from the person whose opinion counts, and my evening was saved.

Having recently returned to the world of home cooking, this wasn’t too dissimilar and had the advantage of being quicker and involving booze. I think I’m hooked. I much prefer my own Manhattans to bar made ones, and whilst I have no intention of turning into a snob, or the type of host who brags about his mixing ability or shows off in front of guests, I think that a classic cocktail is something that will become a regular part of my drinking experience. I have no intention of giving up beer, but there are times when something other than an IPA is called for.  Now, for instance. All this typing has made me thirsty and I feel a need for something to calm my nerves. If only I could remember where I put that bottle of bitters….. Chin chin!





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Girlfriend Is Better.

There comes a point in any relationship that lasts beyond the first morning when you meet each others’ friends. With luck, this will happen in an inviting environment and will involve everyone having a drink in their hand and probably a plate in front of them.  This serves two purposes: It proves to your sweetie that you aren’t some sad, pathetic loser, and it proves to your friends that your girlfriend isn’t imaginary. The operative phrase here is “With luck”. Alas, things do not always go as planned.

Just before Halloween, my sweetie convinced me to attend the haunted house at the old mortuary in Georgetown. I will admit that this is most definitely not my thing, not that I’m easily scared, it’s just that confined spaces are not my thing, and I don’t respond well to strobe lights. That being said, we had a good time and returned to her house for a relaxing end to the evening.  No sooner had I removed my shoes and sat down than I was summoned by a rather frantic cry. Water ( and thankfully it was only water) was pouring out of the toilet and shower stall onto the bathroom floor. Long story short: I spent 45 minutes mopping the floor with a variety of towels, putting them down as a barrier at the threshold and then wringing them in turn into the teacup sized sink. Very little water made it into the bedroom, and the emergency plumber discovered the root cause – the guest of an upstairs resident had disposed of some feminine hygiene products by flushing them! Ugh! It under these circumstances  that I was introduced to two of the neighbours,- standing in half an inch of thankfully clean water, wringing out towels like a washerwoman on speed. Not the best way to meet people, but it could have been worse.

It was worse. We had arranged to get together the following Monday,  me picking her up from work and heading to her place for a quiet evening. Alas, this was the same Monday when we learned of the sudden death of our friend ( see “Tango Funebre”).  An impromptu gathering had been organised, and as I could hardly take her home and head off to the gathering, we both attended. She knew some of the dozen people there by name and through stories, but had met none of them. Not the best of social occasions to meet new people, but she could see and understand  the depth of our grief and bewilderment, and the group accepted her as one of our own. I can’t imagine how she felt, surrounded by strangers numbed by shock and trying to make some sort of sense of the news. I’m sure that at first we must have seemed like zombies, but as the evening progressed, we all took comfort from each others’ presence and a kind of balance was achieved.

Needless to say, alcohol played a part in evening, replacing one kind of numbness with another, and I was grateful for the fact that she maintained a level of sobriety that was far beyond my ability. I had warned her in advance that I probably wouldn’t be in a fit state to drive, and for once, I proved Yogi Berra wrong.  I dread to imagine what she thought as I stumbled to bed, falling into a deep, dreamless unconsciousness within minutes of arriving home, but I do appreciate her for having the decency not to pass judgement or say anything about it the next day.

As if that wasn’t enough, we had planned to spend that weekend at my place,  relaxing, watching a movie or two, generally enjoying each others’ company, but  instead found ourselves attending the memorial service. I felt terrible telling her that she would have to fend for herself at lunchtime due to the fact that those of us acting as ushers would be meeting at the pub and had decided that we needed time alone as a group in order to process the weeks’ events and reconnect. She took the news with equanimity, understanding that at times like this, the circle needs to draw tighter and that there is a need to express emotion without restraint or the need for explanation. At both the formal reception and the informal gathering afterwards she understood my need to catch up with people, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over a year, and was accepting of my sometimes brief and jargon laden explanations.  Again, I felt guilt over leaving her to fend for herself for so much of the day in a veritable ocean of strange faces and unfamiliar terms, especially under such emotion laden conditions, but again, she accepted the circumstances and at least now has a deeper understanding of just what a special place my school is, and how it breeds a sense of community like no other.  Additionally, I got to see how she responds to extreme circumstances at short notice, how she deals with other peoples’ grief and how much she is willing to put up with from me. I only hope that I can do the same if the tables are ever reversed.



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Tango Funebre

Three weeks ago today, the world lost a truly wonderful human being. Witty, charming, intelligent, self effacing and always willing to help. His death is proof that the world isn’t fair, as if any of us needed it. I found out by chance, glancing down at my phone as I sat on the futon reading, I saw I had a message waiting, and read with increasing horror and disbelief of the death of a friend I had known for four years.

Suffice it to say that the rest of the day was spent in a blur of emails and Facebook posts as the community came together in order to share its’ collective grief and attempt to process the news. When one learns of news like this, there is a need to congregate, share stories and attempt to make sense of events in a group setting, and this was achieved through an ad hoc gathering at a tribemates’ home . Normally, such meetings are joyous affairs, with much joking and ribbing, but this was different. The room held an air of stunned incomprehension as we all tried to make sense of the days’ news, swapped stories of the last time we’d seen our friend and attempted to numb the pain with alcohol.

Five days later, we gathered at a local church for a memorial service. I and four others who had been in the same close learning circle as our friend acted as ushers, handing out programs, directing attendees and trying ( although not succeeding) in maintaining an air of calm. Around 250 people attended, with another 55 watching proceedings online, and it was heartening to see the extent to which our friend had affected the lives of others, as well as the respect, appreciation and love the community had for him. I doubt if anyone remained dry eyed through the memorial, and I will admit to losing it, especially during the singing of “All Through The Night” which ended the event.

But life goes on, we all have to continue with our regular activities, not as an insult to those who have passed on, but as proof that we remember them, honour their lives and keep the memory of them alive with us. After a formal reception, many of us adjourned to a tribemates’ house for a second gathering, which I know our friend would have enjoyed. Drinks flowed, plates were filled and emptied, stories were repeated and jokes told, so that the pain of the day was softened by the presence of so many people whom we had not seen for many months. It was hard on all of us, no one could truly comprehend that someone as vital, loving and caring as our friend was no longer with us. I’m not going to descend into platitudes, but it was clear during the weekend that the whole community developed a sense of how fragile life is, that no opportunity to meet with friends should ever be passed up, that we need to stay close to those whom we had previously regarded as peripheral. This is not to say that we don’t grieve for our friend, or have concern for the welfare of his wife and children, but there is now an awareness that even the bitterest of events can bring forth an understanding of how much love one person can create, and a sweetness in shared memories and experiences.

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A Day In The Life. 9/25/12

Quite a busy day, yesterday. We had the first of our “Four Corner Meetings” involving me, my lawyer, STBX and STBXs’ lawyer. It sounds like the negotiations at the end of the Viet Nam war, but really, it worked out pretty well. We went through the agreement document clause by clause, which basically states that we agree to play nice, and then we moved on to “High End Goals”. Very LPD, if you ask me, and not at all uncomfortable. Thanks, Mary Kay, that’s one more pint I owe you. At this rate, you will probably spend the next 3 intensives completely s*** faced.

On the way into  the city, I got a phone call to say that if I want, a place I looked at is mine.  It’s a two bed, one bath apartment that is fully furnished and includes all utilities. I’d prefer to stay on in town, but a fully furnished place for $500/mo less than an unfurnished place nearer the kids is too good to pass up. I am more than a little drunk right now, so excuse me if I wander. I spent a good three hours ( in every sense of the word) with my good colleague JC. Once the Laphroaig came out, I knew I was in trouble, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than paying for professional therapy.

I have to say that it was a very stressful experience at first, sitting down with the lawyers. We were both on edge and it showed. However, once things settled down there was a measure of progress and mutual acceptance that made the whole thing bearable. I’m glad that STBX and I share several of the same High End Goals, as it makes it easier for both of us to work towards an acceptable solution. For those of you not familiar with the collaborative divorce process, we both agreed not to even threaten to go to court, which is a hell of a thing, when you consider how nasty a divorce can get when even one of the parties puts their mind to it. Two and a quarter hours sounds like a long time, and it is, but considering the amount of progress made, it was time well spent.

My main struggles now are internal. I need to throw out all the baggage I was carrying regarding the past, and accept that my subservience was as much a contributing factor to my unhappiness as STBXs’ controlling nature. I also have to deal with my current situation of wanting to be authentic, but not wanting to create awkwardness at home.  Let me give you an example. Very recently, I met a  very intelligent, beautiful, charming, witty young woman. However, I am still married and will be until 90 days after we file the paperwork with the court. S, if this young lady may well come to the conclusion that I am some sort of odious, disingenuous creep. I realise that many of you have already come to that conclusion, but hell, you’ve met me!  ( My marital/familial status never came up in our conversation)  STBX and I are in agreement that neither of us will start dating until after the paperwork is filed, so how do I square this circle? How do I say to someone “Hey, I’d like to spend some time getting to know you, and by the way, I’m still married, but getting divorced” without having her run for the hills?

Seriously, I’m asking for advice here.  I want to be totally honest in all my future actions, but don’t want to do anything that will hurt my kids or cause upset during what is a very difficult period of negotiation. I’m still in the house for at least a week, so I don’t want to add to the stress level by saying to STBX “Hey, I’m off to have a few drinks/dinner  with **************.  I don’t know when I’ll be back, but it will probably be pretty late”.

I have to sign off now. The booze is finally catching up with me and I need to do some game playing.

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