My father died 22 years ago but a day doesn’t pass that I don’t think of him. Especially in December, the month he was born and the month he died.
Like everyone, my father was a complex person. As his eldest daughter, I loved him unconditionally. Even when I was old enough to realize he wasn’t perfect, my admiration for his integrity, intelligence, faith in God, and sense of humor never wavered. He used to say he was “a student of human nature.” As a teenager, I would roll my eyes and wonder what exactly that meant. It wasn’t until I was older that I understood that he was able to predict, fairly accurately, how a person would react in a given situation, because he not only watched people but he mentally catalogued their behaviors. He also read biographies and history constantly. I can still see him sitting at the end of our long dining room table, reading glasses halfway down his nose, poring over the pages of a book that was resting on a darkly stained book stand that he had built. Presentation was important to him. Whether it was a book, a gift, a meal, or a drink, it had to be presented in its best light.
One evening, he asked me to mix him a drink. I picked up the Bacardi bottle and tipped it toward his glass. The look of horror that crossed his face stopped me cold. What was I thinking? I hurriedly put the bottle down and scrambled to find the jigger. He removed his glasses, closed his book, and shook his head. I knew a lecture was coming. I was beginning to regret agreeing to make his drink. His generation took drink-making seriously. They had recipe books, all kinds of bar tools, flasks, a zillion different-sized glasses, and full bars. Bartending was an art. And the mixing of drinks was a science. As I said, what was I thinking?
He took a deep breath as I first washed out his glass, filled it with ice from the ice crusher, measured out an ounce and a half of rum, poured it and Coke over the ice, and squeezed an eighth of a lime into the glass. I stirred the liquids with a swizzle stick, dropped a fresh lime slice into the drink , and placed the glass on the coaster in front of him. “Sorry about pouring free-hand,” I said, hoping to nip any commentary in the bud. No such luck.
“Patrish,” he said solemly, yet with a gleam of humor in his eyes, “Always remember that a society cannot be civilized without these three things: a police department, an educational system, and the shot glass.” I nodded in agreement; I had learned from experience that lectures end faster if you agree with whatever you’re being told. Privately, I thought his statement was hilarious. Now, years later, I see the wisdom in it. People must be educated, rules must be made, and somebody has to enforce them. And anything worth doing–even making a drink–is worth doing well.
SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION: Check out what self-published indie authors have to offer at www.spbroundup.com.