Monday, June 22, 2009

The Day I Fell In Love With Scotch

After you died I became a terrible driver for over a month.

And if that doesn’t give you a few extra pocketfuls of compassion for strangers, especially shitty drivers…

In the week following the ceasefire in your chest, while you were out getting cremated in Santa Rosa, the six of us kids had the sickeningly tragic chore of divvying up all of your belongings.

A job that can only be accomplished by those recently welcomed into the hazy, softly-gnawing jaws of shock.

We drew names from a hat, and it was revealed that I, your youngest, would get the first pick from the things.

There were many treasures, but the top choice was obvious to all: the ostrich egg that you found in Ethiopia forty years earlier that rested like a moon in the huge abalone shell that you peeled off of the floor of the Monterey Bay as a boy my age, some fifty-five years prior.

I walked out to the backyard with my new gift, a reminder of a fatherless world more potent than a coffee can full of ashes.

I lined the inside of the opalescent shell with a handful of magnolia leaves so that the two boons wouldn’t clank together, and then found myself screaming with tears like only a newborn can do, realizing the full extent of the tragedy they had just signed on to, and knowing that there is no turning back now.

We spent the entire day picking through those bones, with frequent trips to your still-stocked liquor cabinet.

10 year-aged Laphroig Scotch Whisky. The heavy smoke of the peat tasted like some sooty birth canal as it chapped my tongue.

Amazing how we can only become drunk in times of dullness in our lives.

I must have made that 12 foot pilgrimage from the dining room table spangled in memory, to that cabinet full of liquid tombstones thirty times that evening, taking strong, healthy pulls from the many bottles, but most affectionately from the Laphroigs.

My bellyfuls of liquor did nothing to me, besides perhaps to give me a slight aid in keeping my feet plastered to the rocking, salty planks of the earth that felt like it was ready to flip me upside-down and let me go with its next lurching turn over itself.

I fell asleep with smoke pouring out of my eyes, knowing that I must have made a true friend, because the day I had threatened to despise this world forever, I fell in love with scotch.

July 2007
Mt. Shasta, CA

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