Thursday, January 25, 2007

Martini Redux

David’s martini blob triggered some memories. They were random thoughts—but what do I write that is not? When we were in high school most everyone drank beer. Most everyone did not include me. I didn’t like the taste or the calorie count so I found an alternative. Remember in those days Mateus Rosé was considered the import alcohol of choice. I guess it was preferable to the cheap domestic brands (Gallo?) but I wasn’t sophisticated enough to turn to wine when we wanted to get a buzz. No we drank hard liquor and the cheapest we could buy was a rot gut alcohol called Rock and Rye. I’m not exactly sure what it was...and by that I mean, was it some kind of rye or some type of rock. Whatever, it was very sweet and if you drank even a moderate amount you were guaranteed to get sick before you got drunk. I have only rarely been really drunk in my life and it was from drinking gin and ginger. To this day I can’t stand the smell of gin. I was so drunk that I couldn’t go back to my grandmothers apartment. So my friend Davey Vannote took me to a girls’ boarding house, somewhere in Asbury Park, and left me there. I was about 15 and I awoke at 5 am not having any idea where I was or how I got there. I didn’t see Davey again for fifteen years when I ran into him in the Carter campaign. And no one but me and his mother still call him Davey.

We would go to the peach orchard to party. Yes, I lived in New Jersey and we grow not only tomatoes and corn but pretty good peaches. The Vreeland family owned a big farm. It was acres of apple and peach trees. It was private property but our gatherings were by invitation only—and only if the police didn’t come. The orchard is not what it was (what ever is), because they have since sold a good portion of it to a developer who has built a fleet of McMansions. Montville, N.J. the place where it was located was adjacent to Boonton and about 25 miles due west of New York City. It, like so many other farm communities in that area, has become suburban New York. People commute to the city every day. I did that for a while when I worked at USA Networks and it was horrible. David would always say, “millions of people do it every day,” as if that was supposed to appease me or make it better. It didn’t because I have never been a person who needed to do something that everyone else did. For a number of job related reasons we finally moved back to DC and I commuted to New York. It was quite a relief and quicker by plane from DC than the bus from N.J.

The classic Martini glass

When I went to college we graduated to other kinds of hard liquor and an occasional bottle of Mateus. In those years I drank scotch. Usually a moderately priced type but since you could taste the difference between bad and good scotch I began to drink something that you didn’t need to choke back nor would you wretch when you swallowed. I can remember sitting with my roommate trying to be glamorous with a glass of scotch and a cigarette smelling up the room—very glamorous.

What does this have to do with martinis? Nothing really but I know you are thinking people and probably enjoy an occasional historic perspective when you read the blog.
Actually, it has a little to do with martinis so I will digress once more. When I was pregnant with Seth and suspected I might be pregnant I went to the doctor and had a pregnancy test. Can you imagine having to go to the doctor and doing that? Well the test came back negative and I was so sick I thought I must have leukemia or some other fatal disease. We went to a wedding and I dealt with my imminent demise by drinking about a half bottle of vodka. Those were the days that pregnant women still smoked and drank. Oh, and by the way, I was so sick that every time I lit a cigarette it made me ill. So I stopped smoking. And after that one binge I stopped drinking—not because it was bad for the baby (which we didn’t know) but because it made me sick. But I learned that I liked and had a tolerance for vodka.

Flash ahead a few 100 years I found some martini treasures in antique store and then I started to collect two of a kind. Two of a kind is not like one of a kind. It means they were attractive and unusual but not expensive. Anyway, because I loved the way martini glasses looked and felt in your hands I started to drink them. I like a Dickens Martini – with and olive and a twist—get it. Oliver Twist. You probably got it but I didn’t want you to spend too much time trying to figure out why. Some people call it a fruit salad. Sticks and stones.

When I worked in the government we would go out for a two martini lunch and then go back to work. Ah, those were the days. When you could drink and function. This is also no longer the case for me. I can drink one martini. More than that and I can’t think, yet alone walk. But I love a martini. So now I drink one Dickens martini, in a sophisticated glass and I reflect on those wonderful days when we were drinking Rock and Rye in a peach orchard. We’re just sayin...Iris

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