I pondered what to drink in celebration of my new found freedom, after eight years of a relationship that should have lasted no more than a month. I stared longingly at the scotch, but scotch wasn’t for celebrating. No, scotch was that trusty old hag you sipped that sat on your tongue and mind like a mirror looking back at everything you’ve said, everything you’ve done …and judged you! Scotch produced that unusual sobering drunk. The kind of drunk that reminded you of every misfortune, of every rotten regret and girls gone bye. That sobering drunk that lets you know exactly who and where you are in life. Scotch, and that is to say, all whiskeys be they single malt, mixed, bourbon, sour mash, corn mash, WHATEVER, scotch was good for sinking you into that abyss of depression of memories and regrets. Scotch was for remembering the dead and ruing life’s misfortunes dealt. No, scotch was not in order here.
The tequila sat there, prominent in its hand blown blue bottle. But tequila carried with it the ancient memories of my ancestors. Ghosts and the harshness of Mexico dwelled within that spirit, calling me home to a place long ago forgotten in this blood. Tequila, with its sickly sweet aroma always put me in the mood to war, to make love, to write the great American novel, to run head long into destiny, to do something with so much exhausting passion that it would become legendary. The smell of tequila flooded me with memories of my grandfather, redolent with its noxious fumes he would come tumbling into our makeshift fort of bedsheets and cry woo-hoo! No, tequila was best left to the ghosts of my past.
I considered champagne, even though I was fresh out. And champagne was a funny fellow you couldn’t just drink champagne alone. It beckoned friends and fireworks, streamers and success, garters and grand limousines to stick your head out of the sunroof and shout to the world your new found joy! No, champagne was for celebrating joy out of happiness, that is to say, the beginning of, and an end of (and to) something wonderful. A marriage out of an engagement, a promotion out of dedication to the job and so on..no, champagne was not called for here.
Then I recalled the frost covered vodka bottle in the freezer. It was always best cold, like it yearned to be home in some Siberian gulag making its long lugubrious way down the gullet of some poor peasant, like thick hematic life itself! Vodka summons the downtrodden, the oppressed, rebels and guerillas in the midst of revolution. Vodka was the drink of the guilty…it was Rodion staring into the eyes of Porfiry! But there was no guilt here.
And then I thought about just having a beer, cold and dark. Beer that brings to memory every muscle flexed, every drop of sweat shed in exhausting work, the crumpled and wet Friday check in your pocket burning to be spent! Hops, barley, and malt commingled with the sweat of pounding hammers, beat cops and blue collars. No, beer was best left to be savored and oftentimes gulped in the company of good and honest men.
So it left me face to face with the rum. Dark rum, not the airy lite rum of pina coladas, daiquiris and rum runners. It was the rum of pirates, it was the rum of ration with which the British lavished themselves on during the long journey to the colonies! Dark rum that doesn’t reflect sandy beaches or crystal clear water, but the dark history of Hispanola. The rum of Voodoo and Santeria, brown like the people enslaved, that dark interior where tourists fear to wander. Dark rum, much more suited in the bony hands of some long forgotten quest.
And it occurred to me that whatever I decided, I would not drink to that new freedom, but drink to the past eight years of misery and then begin to forget.