When this all began, I thought it would be fun to make some drinks from home, since I wasn’t going out anymore. We had already been staying home, only going out for essential things and such, for about 6 weeks, I figured it would help to pass the time. Plus, I was getting low on our stash of “Is It Vinegar Yet?” fine wines and I was sort of enjoying writing my little shouts into the darkness. So, I started making a cocktail a day and sharing it with you. Part of it was to use up a bunch of alcohol that I had collected over the years, part of it was an excuse to be able to make jokes or social commentary in whatever we are calling “these uncertain times” this week. Part of it was to pass the time, learning new techniques, practicing things I had learned in classes, sharing the experience with the family. Mostly, it was to stay connected to the world. To reach out everyday and say something, to be heard, to hopefully entertain some folks and to feel that love coming back. Some times it has felt like a job, most days it has been one of the things I really look forward to, my little corner of happiness. The simplicity of the ritual. Laying out the tools and ingredients, mixing the drink, trying to capture a decent shot and then searching for the right words, typing them out on my phone’s keyboard. It has been a pleasure that I figured I would continue for a few weeks until the world seemed normal again. That was 75 cocktails ago and things are definitely not normal yet. I’m listening to Leonard Cohen today and reflecting on a lot of things, so if you came for the jokes, you might want to skip this one, it may get darker before the sun comes out. It may not, who knows? Honestly, this stuff is usually just sort of stream of consciousness and I may get all positive in the coming moments. Let’s find out together as we stand and make, the French 75.
The French 75 is a classic brunch drink, which sort of makes sense for this milestone. When this all began, it was like a weird forced vacation. I have been fortunate enough to keep working throughout this, going to the office most days but with a lot more “flex-time” in my schedule. Like everyone else, we took stock of what we had at the house, made grocery runs for staples and the things we could not have delivered, worked around the house. Is there anyone out there who’s yard is not in better shape than it has been in forever? We worked on projects around the house we had put off. We ran through the first six weeks or so, just handling things I had neglected for years. Liam and I got more done around the farm, restored the old BMX, rode our bikes together and walked everyday. We have done more as a family, weekend meals with my parents and brother and his family, delivering virtual church to my grandma every Sunday and eating dinner with her afterwards. Yeah, me sitting in on church every Sunday, I know. Home cooked meals and lots of vegetables, nothing fried, no junk food, not eating out, getting more exercise. In many ways, this reset has been really good. I had lost sight of how important time with family is in my quest to always see what’s on the other side of the horizon.
But, it doesn’t feel quite like life, does it? As we go through these wonderful motions, it feels like we are still on sort of break from real life. I feel like I am always waiting for things to begin again. Kinda like brunch, not quite breakfast, not quite lunch, not a normal life thing, but some sort of special interlude. My daily life changed in March, like most of you. So we’ve been on hold for quite a while. Well, most of us have. We stay home, for the most part, weighing our trips into the world against the backdrop of possible exposure and what that would mean, not only for ourselves, but for my grandma who counts on us to make sure there are milk and eggs in the fridge. We watch as so many folks have gone back to their daily lives. We base our errands now on how seriously, the shops we buy from and the cities we go to approach this pandemic, which is growing again. At this point in time, I personally know more people who are sick with COVID-19 than at any point prior, and just yesterday we had the highest daily number of new cases nationwide since this first began. All while folks strut about, ignoring requests to wear masks, pointedly walking the wrong way down store aisles, proudly defiant of any measure that might help their fellow human. It makes me heartsick to see this defiance being sold as a virtue by some. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like wearing a mask, but I do it. Even though it is inconvenient to me. Even though it does very little to protect me from contracting the disease. I wear it because if I have been infected, it does a great deal to protect others. I am not afraid to do my best to look out for my fellow humans. I am not afraid to look foolish. I am not afraid to try to be decent. So we go along, living in a different world from the folks who have decided that since they are bored with dealing with coronavirus, it must be over.
But it hit me hard the other day, that we are not at brunch, this is not an interlude, there will be no intermission. This is real life, as real as it gets. We aren’t going to get some of this time back at the end for good behavior. I saw today where a friend was celebrating 4 years of life in the burlesque world, and she said it didn’t feel much like a time for celebration, and that bugged me. I get it, completely, I have been doing the same thing. I turned 48 during this time and we sort of did a quiet thing at home, thinking, we will celebrate when this is all over. I was wrong, whatever you have going on in your life, celebrate that shit now! We aren’t ever going to pass this way again. Yeah, things are weird and yeah a lot of this just sucks, but this is it, our one bite at the apple and we have go to find a way to make this life the best it can be. As Andy said in Shawshank Redemption, “It comes down to an easy choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” Well, I am not ready to check out yet, but the thing is, I am going to. Just like each of you, my days are numbered. Not to get all maudlin, but we are all going to die. In the middle of writing this I had to stop to take a call from my cardiologist, how’s that for a literal reminder of your own mortality? I’ll throw you another quote from a strange place, but what The Ancient One said is true, “Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are limited, your time is short.” So, if we know that we only get one shot, how can any of us afford this half-life? I am struggling with that. I am so used to being around people, that not getting out, not seeing my friends has been the hardest part. When it is safe to move around the country again and by that I mean, when I feel like I can come and give you a hug without worrying that I might have compromised your health by doing so, I am going to wander all over this country and hopefully world, having drinks with you and hugs and laughs. That is what I look forward to, smiles and laughter and some tears too. Until that can happen though, don’t forget to make the most of this time, whatever that means to you. Write that book, or curl up and read, teach your kid to paint, or tour a gallery online, get on the phone with your cousins, spend all afternoon in the hammock thinking about how cool it would be to do those things, crank up Purple Rain and cry in the storm, whatever it takes. Coping is different for all of us and there are no right answers, which is cool because it means there are no wrong answers either. Actually that is not true, there are lots of wrong answers. If your coping mechanism means you need to mock folks or be mean or discount those who you disagree with, yeah then you’re fucking it up for the rest of us, so don’t do that. Get a drum set instead, watch a video and learn to floss (the dance or dental hygiene or both) whatever you need. Seriously, do what you need in order to just get through and if drinking, in moderation, helps, then by all means, let’s make a drink.
Yeah, I know, finally… Grab your tins and pop in 1 ounce of gin, I went with my beloved rosemary forward Gin Mare; 1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup and some ice. Shake well and double strain into a champagne flute before topping with 3 ounces of champagne or other sparkling wine, we opted for some cheap dry prosecco from Aldi. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve. It is light, it is elegant, it is lovely. It really is, you should make this, the bubbles make it feel like a celebration and maybe that is something we need more of. So there is your drink, it’s only an excuse to step through the depression and write about how I feel 75 cocktails into “these uncertain times” anyway. Thanks for always listening, this is how I stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.