Tag Archives: choices

Who Drinks This Stuff?

17 May

I must go to the wrong bars–or the right ones–because I never see anyone order a complicated drink. Usually it’s beer or a simple cocktail (like myself), but a Long Island Iced Tea, which takes several shots… nah. I think your drink says a lot about what your priorities are.

As an unreformed drinker, I will tell you that everyone has a main drink. They might drink wine, or beer, or hard liquor from time to time, but you have a primary drink that go to when you’re not trying to impress anyone or when you’re by yourself. Now that might not be consistent. Currently, mine is the scotch and soda, but that changes. Occasionally I mix it up with a bourbon and Coke or a gin and tonic (as we approach the summer months), but it generally it’s a simple cocktail.

Now… would I mind a Manhattan or a Gin Martini? Absolutely! But I don’t order those at a bar for one simple reason; the bartender gets it wrong. Even a gin and tonic, which is just three items (gin, tonic, lime wedge), frequently doesn’t come with a lime which makes it… less appealing. If I have to explain the drink, I feel like a douchebag, and if I don’t get what I wanted, I’ve just wasted my money. So I keep the drink simple so someone can’t screw it up.

Often I see many primary drinks like that. If it gets more complicated than a beer, than it’s a screwdriver (orange juice and vodka), or just ordering a shot of fireball with your beer. It also takes longer, so your drink priority gets moved down considerably on a busy night. But I try to avoid those as well.

But that’s my priority; getting the drink to my lips faster. Since so many cocktails are sweet, adding in cordials and fruit juices, the point of them is to mellow the bitterness of the alcohol being served. I guess if you’re younger and you’re trying to get used to the flavor of the booze (but like the effect it has on you), then that’s where a lot of those fruity drinks come into play. “Doing shots” seems to be a much more direct option; how drunk can I get in the shortest amount of time. Again, never quite understood that, since you’re spending a lot of money for a short amount of enjoyment. But maybe that’s why so many shots can be just as complicated as a cocktail. “Irish Car Bomb” comes instantly to mind; Irish Cream, cinnamon liquor, and… something. But if you just down them, what’s the point? Again, they’re just trying to get as drunk as possible so they can party. I’m there to sit a while and have a good time.

So since I go to “old guy bars,” I never see this stuff. I didn’t even get into alcohol until I was 25, so I missed the entire college bar scene. I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it even if I had–old guy bars are quiet, you can have conversations with interesting people, and you can relax. Most people come to bars for “an event,” so maybe those places have a greater concentration of fruity concoctions. But maybe you guys would know better–let me know your impressions in the comments below! Then make your favorite drink and read one of my books. However, if $1.99 is cutting into your beer money, go ahead and download one of my stories for free. 

The Tale of Violet

18 Jan

After yesterday’s post, instead of bloviating about my theories of homelessness in America, I thought it would be better to tell a story that happened to me. This involves a nice lady I’m going to call Violet.

Violet is somewhere in her 50’s and spent her life off and on homeless. The times when she has not been homeless, she has always lived with someone else–her boyfriend, husband, girlfriend–never on her own. Apart from being VERY fat and needing a scooter to get around (only in the West are poor people fat), she has never held a job in the five years I have known her, possibly because of her multiple medical conditions, but possibly because it would endanger her social security benefits.

Violet is a very nice gal, but simultaneously, she is also the most infuriating person I have ever met. It seems hard to balance the two, but the best definition for her I’ve heard is “needy.” Violet is “needy,” not just financially, but emotionally. You can teach her how to do something and it won’t stick. I don’t think she does it on purpose, but she would rather have you do it, so she would have someone to talk to while you do it. And she loves to talk... God, does she love to talk.

I never asked her history, but you couldn’t avoid most of it, since she loved to talk. She grew up in rural Oklahoma and claimed to be descended from a Cherokee princess. Of course, being half-Irish, she also claimed descent from the fairies, so if you can be one princess, why not two? She got pregnant rather young, and ended up having three kids, of which I only ever met one. At some point, she moved to Texas, possibly with husband number two, where she raised kid number two… who doesn’t talk to her. I have no idea what happened to kid number one, and she never mentioned them, so I’m guessing adoption.

Somewhere between husband two and three, she lost custody of her kids, and moved to Phoenix where her sister lives. Then she ended up on the street. Then after a year, she found a program to get her off the streets, which may or may not have been instituted by the LDS church (she is a Mormon, I’m guessing mostly because missionaries love to talk). However, the moment I finally understood Violet was when her daughter moved to town.

Violet asked me to pick her her daughter, let’s call her Periwinkle, at the bus station along with all her worldly possessions and her toddler daughter. No problem. When I picked up Peri, she was very grateful, and I loaded her into my car. Instead of going to her mom’s house, she asked to stop downtown, because it had been years since she been there. Okay, sure. After checking out the fountains, she asked if she could just stop and register at the county shelter, so she could get her benefits started in this state. Okay, I dropped her off and waited… for two #(*$*$@ hours! Peri didn’t call me to explain the delay and I didn’t have her number. Nor did her mom. So I’m steaming, but I keep my calm when she finally arrives, and she asked to be dropped off at her aunt’s house. Not her mom’s house, her aunt’s house. So I did and never saw her again, even when Peri called me to ask for an additional ride later, because I was done with her.

For me, that explained everything about Violet. She and her daughter didn’t talk to each other. Peri turned to her aunt first, and after a couple months exhausting her, moved in with her baby daddy. When he got exhausted after a couple months, Peri moved in with Violet and her husband. And when they got exhausted, she moved in with a new boyfriend. This I heard from Violet and her husband later–and that relationship broke up after a year and a half. Violet is living with a girlfriend who seems about as needy as she is.

What does this have to do with homelessness? Well, if you’re in a jam, and need help getting back to your feet, you can count on your family/friends/church. But if you exhaust your resources, and you’re not getting back to your feet, you end up on the street. To me, that explains about a third of the homeless population–people who have exhausted their resources and have no one to take care of them. Another third is crazy–mental illness or drug abuse, take your pick–but they simply can’t function in normal society. The final third have not exhausted them and are simply transitioning back to low-income.

It’s the final third you can help; the ones who want to be helped. Not taken care of, helped back to a normal life. I personally support Family Promise of Greater Phoenix, because they help homeless families. Shelters are segregated by gender, so if you have a teenage boy with his mom, they have to be separated… and boy, is that scary. They also provide programs to get them back on their feet, and having visited their building, I’m confident they are doing a great job.

What do you think? Do you think my theory of homelessness is way off? Do you have a similar story? Let me know in the comments below!

To Forgive, Not to Forget

10 Nov

My grandfather held grudges until they died of old age and then had them stuffed and mounted. I’m more of the “I’m degrading you to acquaintance” variety, but recently I’ve been reminded that you can forgive, but you don’t have to forget.

This is the very antithesis of Christian thought–of course, the big J was trying to get his followers to follow the spirit, not the letter of Torah. Some blogger recently posted a quote from the gospels, which was:

But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,

Matthew 5:44 (KJV)

Forgiving someone “seventy times seven” is attempting to help the one with the grudge, not the one who offended you. The one who offended you doesn’t care that you’re upset at them–otherwise they’d ask forgiveness. You’re the one whose hurt. By forgiving your enemies, you’re able to let go of the pain and move on. In the modern Jewish tradition, you’re asked to forgive, NOT to forget. In fact, one of the more obscure commandments is:

Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the Lord thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

Deuteronomy 25:17-19 (KJV)

Why is Amalek mentioned? If your job is to blot out the remembrance of Amalek, then shouldn’t it have been removed in the Torah? Why not, “wipe out the remembrance of… that guy. You know, the bad dude?” Before you say, “They couldn’t redact sacred scripture,” I’d say, “They already did. Multiple times.” Start at Exodus 4:24 and convince me that part of that story isn’t missing. Song of Miriam? Cut down to one verse. Two creation stories? I can go on all day…

But that’s a blog for a different day. What I want focus on is in the Jewish tradition, you can forgive, but only if the person who offended you asks for forgiveness. Hitler never asked forgiveness from the Jewish people, therefore he can never be forgiven. And if you feel guilty about what you did to someone, then you go to that person, and if they don’t accept your apology, you ask it again… and after the third time, you’re done. You’ve tried, you’re done.

But although you can forgive, you don’t have to forget. You don’t have to put yourself in a position where that person can hurt you again. You don’t have to be buddies with Amalek–in fact, the tradition is that the reason the Torah says you need to blot out the name Amalek is because Amalek exists in every generation. There’s always someone out to get you. It’s up to you to stop them.

Paranoid? Sure. But as Joseph Heller said, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you.” It’s up to us to recognize the different unintentional hurt (I will never buy Gillette razors ever again because of their pompous scree on toxic masculinity) and intentional. Between those that want to hurt us and those that don’t mean to. That’s why the day before Yom Kippur, Jews ask forgiveness of their neighbors and friends, because it’s easy to forget what you’ve done or said that hurt people. It’s up to you to forgive AND not forget.

How does this match with what you believe? I’ve got some choice Koranic verses about forgiveness, but I’m not well-versed (drum hit) in it. Let me know in the comments below.

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