Usually I drink non-alcoholic drinks. As everyone knows I’ve always throughly enjoyed coffee and tea. All my life I’ve really enjoyed a good alcoholic drink too though. Unfortunately I’ve never been able to drink very much because my constitution has always been so very fragile. I have the same rule for alcohol as for coffee. I quite enjoy the straight plain variety every bit as much as the flavored pretty kinds. In my old Knights of Columbus council in Lindenhurst, where I was a bartender, I was quite fond of Kahlua and Sambuca. Unfortunately I haven’t drunk either in quite a long while. My current signature drinks are martinis at weddings and other large occasions, and bourbon whenever I visit my cousin Mark. Surprisingly there isn’t any single specific reason for either choice. I simply decided quite a few years ago to start drinking martinis at big parties, and last Christmas, at a party at Mark’s house, I got the idea to drink bourbon whenever he and I got together. So far, it’s only happened twice. There’s most certainly no entirely non-negotiable rule though. I can always cheat a little and have something other than bourbon or a martini. One day a few weeks ago my nephew Sam and I were hanging around and he got a glass of vodka. I ended up drinking a glass of Salignac cognac. It’s really good to be flexible.
Were I ever forced to make a final definitive decision about permanently relinquishing the ability to distinguish only one kind of taste which my taste buds would never again be capable of distinguishing it would have to be bitterness. That covers things ranging from radishes to most kinds of seafood. When my cousin Joe and his wife Nancy owned Byer’s Restaurant in Huntington Station during the 1990’s I found out the hard way that ginger beer is on the list too. O that was nasty! I’ve never really had any problem handling sweet, plain or salty foods and drinks. I just don’t like too much of any extreme. Bitterness in food and drink is barely acceptable. Everyone always reminds me that I’m quite capable of eating anything that’s put in front of me. Besides that I make sure I finish each and every single last speck of it too. Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t have to notice anything that struck me as less than enjoyable? Unfortunately life doesn’t ever work that way. I try to avoid bitter foods and drinks, scrupulously refusing to ask for them whenever I have to make a decision. One never can tell, though, when something will sneak up upon him without warning. Over the years I’ve had lots of nasty experience with bitter tastes. My problem is not that I get sick from anything like that. It leaves quite a nasty lingering sensation, though, upon my taste buds. I can’t wait to get rid of it.
An individual may or may not be as impressive as he at first appears. That’s as true of places and things too. Of course at the same time nothing makes me so nauseous as liberalism’s who-am-I-to-judge rule. I can’t really think of any specific significant set of circumstances over the course of my lifetime where I erred about something based on its appearance, though I know that it has often happened. It has happened with alcohol though. Sometimes I see a drink that strikes me as being quite exceptional of appearance and of course, not being terribly knowledgeable about alcohol-it appears they don’t call it spirits for nothing-I make quite an error in judgment. Never having been either a frequent or a well-informed imbiber, I recognize quite well the unfortunate fact that it doesn’t pay for me to be too brave. I virtually always base my decisions about what to drink on appearance and taste. Often, to my chagrin, I end up drinking something that has quite a nasty impact upon me. It’s hit and miss. I never know exactly which drink will send me into flights of pain. Sometimes something very slight will make me sick and sometimes something very hard will give me no trouble.
A few weeks ago I drank a gin martini, with an olive, on an empty stomach. It most certainly seemed quite harmless. I drank exceptionally slowly and ate virtually immediately after having first gotten the drink. It gave me quite an extremely nasty headache though. At other times I’ve drunk the same kind of thing and gotten into absolutely no trouble whatsoever. It doesn’t pay to deal with drinking by way of appearance. It doesn’t help to go by precedent either. Alcohol is like life in general. Many may say it’s like women. The most outwardly appealing drink isn’t necessarily the nicest. Prior experience under the same circumstances doesn’t necessarily help either.
The kinfolk appeared to have survived yet another of our annual Hilldale feeding frenzies. This one was number 52, the first ever having been in 1961. That was the year I turned two years old. Mary Anne, Steve, Michael, Sam & Bridget were here. Michael brought Erin with him. Michael, Erin & I even went to a convenience store on Wyoming Avenue in Wyoming to get cigars. Richie, of course, made sure he got all us musicians together for a jam session. Most of the kin from Michigan, North Tonawanda, Long Island, the western U.S. & southeastern Pa. got here. As always there were the predictable piÑata, an obscene excess of food & drink, & the occasional showboat who couldn’t resist making an utterly pointless speech. The softball game was cancelled because of heat. I stink at sports anyway. Of course they all talked about sports. Many people went to the casinos to gamble. When it was my turn for K.P. duty I helped my cousin Vinnie, Anthony & Ed with the hamburgers & hot dogs while Matt took charge of the vegetables. My cousin Vinnie’s girlfriend was even here with her daughter. For the first time in many years I went swimming in the built~in pool. I got a bit of sunburn because I din’t put enough sunscreen on. Cousins Larry & Gary, of course, went off on their predictable tirade about how libraries are such a waste of taxpayers’ money. Happy anniversary wishes go to Larry & Rose tomorrow & Elaine & George on Wednesday. Michael L., Aunt Helen, Richie & a bunch of others all have birthdays too.