This week my husband and I took our annual micro-vacation. Neither of us likes to be away from home too long – for me, because I can’t bear to be without all my clothes and makeup and hair products, and for him, because he is afraid the pets will pine for him.
Sure enough, I didn’t like the sandals I brought, and although I thought that would be a nice excuse to buy some new ones, I couldn’t actually find any. Well, I did find some, but they were pricey and cute and didn’t match the one extra outfit I had brought, so then I would have need a new tee at the very least, if not a new bathing suit, since the cute sandals would have been atrocious with the bathing suit I had packed, and I only had forty-five minutes till the parking meter ran out and that was certainly not enough time to make a decision as monumental as shoes.
And on my husband’s side, sure enough, the cats pined away for a terrible, horrible one-and-one-half days without my husband, and the most docile of them even hissed at the kind neighbor who was feeding them. Of course, the cats can hardly endure my husband going to the bathroom, never mind Rhode Island.
But despite having the wrong sandals and fretting about the poor abandoned kitties, we had a really nice time.
We stayed at the marina in Newport, and it turned out the dockside bar was right outside our room. This was a sign, I was sure, that I was meant to relax.
So right after we didn’t purchase shoes, and didn’t purchase grey pearls (although hubby came close – he’s a sucker for beautiful jewelry – a cross I have had to bear all my married life – poor me) we strolled out the seven feet to the bar for a pre-dinner drink.
Two other couples soon joined us, and naturally my husband made new friends. My husband’s social skill is the only thing that keeps me from becoming a pathetic recluse.
Drinks all around. Everyone – but me – decided to have a Dark ‘N Stormy. This drink is made with Gosling’s Black Seal rum mixed with ginger beer. Everyone loved it. Made them feel like pirates. It’s definitely a pirate drink. Argggh.
I had a glass of merlot.
Merlot is not exactly the classiest wine. Real wine drinkers refer condescendingly to merlot. (Just think of insults poor merlot received in the movie Sideways.) But I like it. But as classless as merlot’s reputation is, I still thought that perhaps a glass of wine made me look snooty as compared to Dark ‘N Stormy big tumblers.
I didn’t want to look snooty. I wanted to be a regular guy, like the Dark ‘N Stormiers. So I ridiculed the ostentatious display of the yachts in the marina. Yes, I made fun of the wasteful clueless rich. I don’t know why I did this. I don’t really have anything against rich people. I would like to be one myself.
And of course, it turned out that my husband’s new pals were the occupants of one of those yachts.
I didn’t exactly know how to redeem myself.
Maybe I could have a Dark ‘N Stormy. We can all have that pirate drink and be happy pirates together.
But I just couldn’t.
My Polish grandfather (Dziadzi is Grandpa in Polish – think “Ja-Jee” for pronunciation) liked his drink. He was a shot-and-a-beer guy all the way. Any kind of whiskey – and then a beer chaser. Like most immigrants from eastern Europe, Dziadzi liked his beer warm. He kept his Schlitz in the bedroom closet – and in the summer, in his third-floor, bathroom-down-the-hall tenement, that was WARM.
When I was a teenager, my mother used to visit Dziadzi a few times a week. In summer, Mom often asked me to accompany her. Her motives were a little suspect. Dziadzi would always ask her to bring him a bottle, and she didn’t like to deny him the pleasure of a drink in his later years. But she worried about him drinking too much – and she knew of the risk of combining too much whiskey with the many medications he was taking.
So she would bring him a bottle – but she didn’t want to leave him with too much to drink alone after we had gone. So she’d say, “Come with me to see your grandfather. And have a drink with him.” I was still in high school.
So on a hot summer morning, we would drive to New Britain. And I would have a shot and a beer with my mother and my grandfather. She’d bring him a very small bottle, so we’d only be leaving him a little if we both had a drink too.
So at ten a.m., often twice a week, in an apartment already approaching 90 degrees, I would have a shot of Jack Daniels and a warm Schlitz.
To this day, 45 years later, I only drink wine.
As much as I would like to drink Dark ‘N Stormy like a pirate with some nice rich people and be as sociable as my husband –
And a glass of merlot.