As little as three years ago my emotions were far more understandable. I wasn’t cold, no, but I wasn’t moved in quite the same ways. My wife would watch a sad movie and I could fathom and dissect the motivation in its scripting, acting and direction. Now, I get wrapped up in the same emotions my oldest daughter has when, say, Bilbo Baggins loses it after his friend dies in The Hobbit. (There’s no spoilers here . . . the book’s been out since last century!)
I’d say my brain went a little haywire, which could be the case, I suppose, but I don’t think that’s the case. I wasn’t the grinch, my small heart didn’t “grow three sizes that day.” I just didn’t indulge in those kinds of emotions. Men were men, we didn’t emote that much and we didn’t lose it at random things.
This brings me to the reminiscence of the bottle you see up there. I use the title for a couple reasons.
It might sound very cliche’d for me, a journalist, a man whose heroes are Murrow and Brinkley along with Schieffer and others, to like Scotch. That very phrase, by the way, in quotes, is the last line of the film Good Night and Good Luck. Even Will Ferrell lampooned it in Anchorman as the drink of choice for all real newsmen.
That would be an easy assumption, but you’d be wrong. In fact it’s quite an acquired taste. I didn’t normally drink it as I had not acquired the taste for the hard liquor.
No . . . Murrow and Bradley did not bring me a taste for the drink.
My wife did. She seemed to think that the fact her mother, in an effort to stop her from crying when she was a teething infant, put a splash of Scotch on my wife’s gums. That, she theorized, gave her a taste for the whiskey itself.
This isn’t a celebration of alcohol or its effects. I am careful not to be driving if I have more than a glass and even then . . . I wait some time before I even contemplate going for my keys.
I can remember the very day that the drink seemed to magically sink in with me. I had gotten two tickets to the Omaha Auto Show – a preview compliments of the sales department. Also complimentary? Drinks. Andrea and I were married and she was working, her sister, I believe, watching our daughter. I wandered the place and, feeling entitled, asked for Scotch. It was the most expensive drink on the menu. I had one glass . . . then another . . . and came to realize it was expensive, single-malt Scotch, making it far smoother. It also gave my stomach no problems which, unfortunately, beer and wine did.
This particular bottle, though, is the end of a few things.
About two years before Andrea passed away her parents wanted to give me a very nice gift. It was an 18-year-old bottle of Glenfiddich single-malt. It’s an expensive bottle of aged Whiskey and it…was…smooth.
I kept the bottle for a very long time. My wife and I would indulge when things were particularly stressful, and the last couple years of her life things were really very stressful. So when Andrea passed away I had more than a few glasses, you can be assured.
That bottle wasn’t touched much after that. In fact, there was enough for two glasses sitting in the bottle for the last year. That would push the age to somewhere near 25, I think. Not that it got better the longer it was open.
Last night, the kids – all four of them – asked me to play Wii with them. Bear in mind, as they were little, I used to kick their little behinds on games. I knew Super Mario Brothers better and blew through them with ease.
Last night I found myself pining for my old Atari 2600 or a Nintendo NES as they pounded me in Mario Smash Brothers or Mario World. The screams and shouts from them exacerbated a headache I’d seen coming for some time.
At the end I pulled out the Scotch, not thinking, and drank the last glass.
This brings my post here full circle. In years past I’d have drank the amber liquid and given it not a thought. However . . . this is the last big gift I got from Andrea’s parents. Her father passed away shortly after last Christmas. Her mother passed away earlier this year. It was a rough 365 this round and it’s been filled with a lot of losses.
So I stared at the bottle, the empty glass, and realized that I was more than a little harsh to Andrea’s father in the last few years of his life. We had disagreements, I had my grudges, and like times in my own past I held onto it for a long time. It wasn’t right, I know that, but grief has a way of holding onto things that maybe it shouldn’t. As I took the last swallow I felt some guilt but a twinge of happiness that I had at least shed the last of that anger shortly before he passed away.
So at the end of the night, I took the last of my glass, raised it to my father-in-law and thought very fondly of the woman who gave me a taste of the whiskey.
It may just be a bottle of Scotch…but it held a lot of memories.