Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Oblivion, I barely knew ye!

My earliest memory of drinking whisky is this: I was about 18 (yes, I know, slow learner). My parents were overseas. It was just me and the bottle, mano-a-mano, as they say in a language I believe to be Spanish. I put the neck to my mouth and drank deeply of the peaty heritage of Scotland. A searing blast of taste flamed over my tongue and down my throat, warming me like a mountain man before a mountain fire. The whiskey coursed powerfully into my stomach. And immediately came up again.

As it flowed back into my mouth, I angled my head towards the ceiling and held my neck with one hand, rigidly, as if to strangle myself. Slowly, gravity did its thankless work and the whiskey drained back into my guts.

I’d like to say that there was some teenage hottie there also, surreptitiously toying with her bra strap and egging me on. But no, this was strictly a two-person affair, one boy on the cusp of manhood (and that was one fat cusp – I didn’t know they made cusps that big) and one bottle of Chivas Regal. It was me, pimply, alone, a failed drunk, with traces of whiskey and saliva on the kitchen floor. Rock’n’roll!

I was always one to struggle with alchohol. Throughout my university days, I wrestled with beer, trying to fling it down my throat and out of sight. What the hell was a I doing at a pub, unable to drink? I watched enviously as friends sucked the stuff down. They were having more fun than me, let’s face it. Substitutes drinks came and went. Red wine seemed a manly alternative (almost), and sophisticated to boot. But to the uncultured palate (and my palate had been bounced out of kindergarten for farting while the other kids finger-painted) red wine is worse than beer. And over-the-counter claret-in-a-box has recently been added to the poisons advisory list.

Sometime later, I discovered girly liqueurs. Kahula, Baileys, Midori, where were you when I needed you? Tastes like a chocolate milkshake, only it makes you better looking to the opposite sex!

Luckily in my mid-twenties, a switch inside my head flicked on and I grew to like beer. Beer grew to like me too and made itself at home under my belt, like a snuggling cat.

But somehow, I sensed my journey to manhood was not finished (I told you it was a big cusp, you could land a plane on it). A friend at work told me he drinks whiskey by himself at night sometimes. A first I was shocked, then, by turns, revolted, appalled, disgusted and secretly thrilled. Slowly, whiskey made its way into my life, beckoning me onto its velour-covered sedan. Now I too drink a little whiskey as the dark of the evening gives way to the black of night.

I’m no longer pimply and there is a hottie present. However, she’s not a teenager, she’s my wife and she’s 32. And she’s not egging me on.

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