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How Dry I Am

by Stephen Lautens

November 21, 1997

I worked my way through the liquor cabinet last weekend.

Before you offer me a lifetime membership in AA, let me explain.

We've reorganized the kitchen, and my job was to collect up all the booze bottles from their various hiding places and organize them on a single shelf.

My parents didn't drink at all, but kept a well stocked bar for guests. My wife doesn't drink much, and I'm pretty much a Martini and wine man (not mixed together), but we try to be good hosts. If that means keeping the ingredients on hand for a Pumpkin Fizz, so be it.

We also have a large selection of booze given to us at Christmas. If I find one more bottle of hazelnut liqueur, I'll scream.

With all the sherry we have, you'd think we were part of the Guzzlin' Grannies Motorcycle Club.

Cleaning out the old liquor cabinet I found out an awful truth about myself. I have a teenager's liquor cabinet.

It's filled with the stuff senior proms are made of.

Lemon gin. Cherry brandy. Creme de Menthe. Coffee liqueurs.

Does this sound like anything Bogart would drink? Can you hear James Bond walking up to a bar and asking for a melon liqueur - shaken, not stirred?

No, this is not alcohol for anyone old enough to drink it. Somehow I wouldn't expect any sympathy on Monday morning if I came to the office complaining that I had a wicked banana liqueur hangover.

And at the back of my cupboard I found a big bottle of Southern Comfort.

I'll let you in on a secret. I have only had two unfortunate booze experiences, the first of which involved Southern Comfort.

I was in a college debating tournament, and I brought along a pint of SC for inspiration. Towards the end of the night, I was overly inspired, and when added to my friend's own liquid courage, and the after debate wine and cheese reception - well, you get the picture.

I haven't been able to look at Southern Comfort since. So you can imagine how thrilled I was one Christmas to open my grandmother's present to find - a huge bottle of Southern Comfort. Bless her.

My other experience involved a spirited board game at a friend's cottage, and a steady supply of Martinis. When olives became scarce, a bottle of pearl onions was found hiding in the fridge.

I think they were bought when Diefenbaker was in short pants.

In any event, the explosive results gave a new meaning to: "You sunk my battleship!"

Fortunately, I decided it wasn't the Martinis, but the offensive onions. After all, I can live without eating another pearl onion. I still have to look the other way when we pass them at the grocery store.

But those two incidents aside, I had no other unfortunate run-ins with the demon run (or Sambuca, as the case may be.)

To preserve my carefully cultivated image as a sophisticated man of the world, I really should throw out those dribbles of orange and green liquid in the bottles shaped like bulls, or wearing yellow plastic hats.

Instead, I hid them in the back of the cupboard, behind the single malts, vodkas and cognacs.

You never know. Some day I may have teenagers of my own.


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