“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine. “ ~ Humphrey Bogart
For the most part, I don’t drink. I always wanted to be a drinker like the rest of my family, but I was different.
I tried hard to keep anyone from finding out my secret. When my mother would hand me the cherry from her cocktail, I would hide it behind my hand as I baptized it in my water glass, purifying it of the vile-tasting bourbon it had come from. Over time I did learn to like a pink squirrel and a strawberry daiquiri, and would sip an occasional glass of wine or champagne. I did my best to uphold the family honor by trying to making friends with Jim Beam when I heard my poor dad say to my mom — with no small amount of disappointed angst, “Do you think she will ever learn to drink a bourbon and water?” However, despite my best efforts, a sip of bourbon left me gagging and clawing at my throat. I guess my only saving grace was I felt the same way about Scotch.
As the times were a-changin’, my coketotaller ways became appreciated, and I became a sought after designated driver. In fact, I believe that is one of the reasons Joe married me. He loved cocktail hour, Friday night drinking with the boys, and (before they were taken over by the yuppies) the martini bar. One of our first real dates started with a stop at his favorite martini bar.
Joe picked me up and asked if I would like to grab a martini before dinner, and without missing a beat, I told him how uncanny his suggestion was, because I had been craving a Martini all day. The reality — I had never had a martini in my life. When we arrived at the bar, one of the first things I noticed was that it was small and lacking in foliage to spill a drink into. Joe ordered our first round of martinis and toasted me, and we both took a sip. Joe murmured something like “mmmm” while I uttered “ahhhhh” from the depths of my burning throat and forced myself to take another sip, praying that eventually my throat and mouth would just go numb. I drank that cocktail and half of another before I was outed as a fake. No, I did not throw up; my eyes just glazed over, and I stopped making any sense at all. I also found everything hilarious. The bartender smiled at Joe and said, “Well, at least she isn’t a mean drunk.” We never made it to dinner that night. Over the years, the “martini incident” became a running joke between us, and I always toasted him on his birthday with a martini, usually just a sip from his glass. After he died, it only seemed right to carry on the tradition.
Last night, on Joe’s birthday, his sister toasted him with a “Joe Martini,”
While my brother-in-law and I ordered a martini sampler for our toast.
Cosmo: Skyy Infusions Blood Orange, Vodka, agave nectar, lime juice, lemon juice, cranberry juice
Green Apple: Absolut Vodka, Dekuyper Sour Apple Pucker, sour mix, Sprite
Wild Raspberry Cosmo: Skyy Infusions Raspberry Vodka, Dekuyper Triple Sec, Cranberry, raspberry syrup.
Stormy Night: Effen Black Cherry Vodka, Dekuyper Watermelon Pucker, Dekuyper Island Punch Pucker
Cole, with a look that said I won’t disappoint you, Dad, had sips all the way around.
When I posted on today’s El Morno and Facebook that I had four martinis, most of the comments read, “I’m impressed” with a “yeah, right” tone. Sometimes, I feel as though I have gone through life with a nametag that reads “Hello, my name is Katybeth, and I don’t drink.” The truth is, I did have four short martinis in front of me at the restaurant, and I did enjoy sips from each glass, but I did not drink them alone. After all, I was the designated driver.
Cole and I dropped my brother-in-law and sister-in-law off at home, and as we were heading home, the song “Imagine” played on the radio (the song we chose for Joe’s memorial service). We were not surprised.