Have a Drink On (top of) Me

By all accounts it was a weekend of celebration. Nothing official. American Thanksgiving isn’t until Thursday. Simply, everyone I know seemed to have a party on the go, or a special event to attend.

Me, I made arrangements to visit some old friends. Not a wild party by any means. They were working around sons’ hockey schedules so a later evening soiree was prudent. No problem. I have been and remain proud of my ability to adapt.

It is my ability to recover that is now in question.

Now, this is no debauched revelry we had planned, but rather a quiet late evening dinner with conversation. As it is in many hockey households there was an early wakeup call for morning, which in itself dictates approach to a night of socializing in one of two ways. Canadian readers, bear with me here. I do have a few American and overseas readers who Don’t Understand. I state the obvious for them.

ice-hockey-7In Canada, hockey is Not Optional. One does not say, “Oh, excuse me. I was imbibing slightly past my tolerance last evening and, as a result I am feeling rather queasy of stomach this morning, therefore, as Your Goaltender, I choose not to play this morning so that I might attend to my headache and nausea. Do continue without me, knowing that I offer my best wishes to the success of today’s match.”

I’m certain people who say and do such are indeed born in Canada. They won’t survive childhood.

Likewise, a parent will balk, bitch, bemoan and whine over the ungodly hours required to provide offspring with the opportunity for ice time. They will not, however, miss the ice time. They will continue to balk, bitch, bemoan and whine with other such parents while clutching the ubiquitous Tim Hortons Cup of Warming Goodness, a talisman against the dual affronts of lack of sleep and lack of heat that such mornings require. The world view is that all Canada lives in igloos. In the case of the Hockey Parent, this is closer to truth.

So, my Gracious Hosts, being Hockey Parents, had two options. That was to go to bed at A Reasonable Hour, or to Skip Sleep Entirely. Both are equally valid approaches. Hockey Parenthood generally prefers the former while adult tournament hockey frequently engages the latter. Wine

There have been instances, on the very floorboards we trod, where once upon a time the adult males in this story were known to throw together a concoction of amaretto and tequila, light the works on fire and slurp them up through straws. Oddly, facial hair survived such an evening, though many straws did not. Last night was not such an evening, being a polite and dignified affair more in line with glasses of red wine.

Being Gracious Hosts, and aware that I was not driving (or for that matter getting up for ice time in the morning), a quiet but insistent attention was paid to my wine glass ensuring that I was not left thirsty at any point. I don’t recall having a say in the matter.

There is something about visits with old friends that aids my ability to swallow alcohol. Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar effect. At home I simply cannot drink things in similar quantity when by myself. It doesn’t taste the same, nor is it of similar effect. The goodness of feeling that comes from being surrounded by dear friends is abetted by wine and the taste of wine is abetted by the presence of friends to such a degree that I am positive that the first person to think of swallowing fermented grape juice likely was with a good buddy at the time. Likely goading them on.

This is how I came to be feeling rather less than optimal this morning. Oh, without regrets. And certain of my friends would mock the miniscule amounts of wine needed to put me in this state. A hallmark of age, perhaps, one’s condition seems to become something like a balancing act, or in the case of this morning, an unbalanced act. “Not enough water,” I think. “I’d be fine had I only drank more water.” “Tylenol,” I think. “I’d be fine if I took a couple Tylenol.” “Potatoes,” I think. “I’d be fine if I peel and dice 10 lbs. of potatoes and make home fries, eaten in one sitting slathered liberally with ketchup and Frank’s Red Hot sauce.”

Yes. Now we’re talking. That will be almost as good as a high stick upside the head.

One Cold Coffee

Mmm… the coffee tastes especially fine today. I have to remind myself that it’s an acquired taste. If I think about it, it is all Pavlovian response and when it comes down to it, I can taste past that and still realize I don’t really like it. But I keep drinking it.

My first job was inflicted upon me at age 15. It was not tough work, but it was on the dull side, cleaning up after small house fires for the most part. No glamour job by any means, but it was $3.15/hour and mama said so, so there I was. The memory of the 12 string guitar I bought later that year tempers whatever ugh I recall about the work itself.

I was part of a crew that would collect at the shop first thing in the a.m. One guy, who I shall call “Glen” for purposes of this blog (because his name was “Glen”) made my teen ambivalence look positively ambitious. He was pretty much always laCoffee-cupte. I got a ride in with the foreman so I sort of couldn’t be late, so I never had a chance to give Glen a run for his money.

On top of the usual 15 to 20 minutes delay (“the bridge was up” “a herd of goats was blocking the road” “Pink Floyd called me and wouldn’t hang up”) the moment we got in the van to head to a job, Glen would pipe up, “Hey, let’s go for coffee! I’m buying.” Such was his commitment to work avoidance, he would go out of pocket to sustain it.

Now, at 15, the idea of coffee was similar to the idea of kissing girls at age 7. Nothing redeeming. At All. Nor could I imagine why anyone would want to bring these things upon themselves. I had, however, through the Patriarchal Teachings of Maternal Grandfather, been initiated into the Cult of Tea. And hot chocolate, even in the summer, was a viable alternative. The problem was that if I expressed a preference for a beverage other than coffee, Glen’s wallet self-preservation mechanisms kicked in and he spat, “I’m not buying TEA!” This was immediately matched by my own wallet self-preservation mechanism, and I limped along with, “okay, I’ll have a coffee then.” This sealed our mutual distrust, as neither of us could determine who, exactly, had the upper hand.

And so began my grudging relationship with the beast. I’m versatile now. I can handle Tim Horton’s or Starbucks with equal ease. I can and do appreciate the various strong, dark coffees of Europe and Asia Minor. I’ve even downed cold Vietnamese coffee, relishing the flavour of the sweetened condensed milk in a context outside of dessert squares or oatmeal.

Now, with three cups in me this morning, I’m headed for a Diuretic Coma if I’m not careful. Oh, and coffee breath. Is there any halitosis of which one can be more self-aware? I’m no longer 7 and I must profess that I have discovered an appreciation for kissing girls, even if I don’t do it as often as I like, but with three coffees I will need to brush, floss, acid rinse, sandblast and bleach before I invade anyone’s personal space today.

Coffee. A Moment Of Pleasure. A lifetime of commitment.

Published in: on November 18, 2010 at 9:44 am  Comments Off on One Cold Coffee  
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