Sunday, December 26, 2010

The French Cognac Kiss

The weather outside is frightful here in Orlando. The gusting wind chill has us down in the 40s or 30s. Tonight we get the light freeze. Tomorrow night, the hard freeze. The fronds on my Addy tree are dying and I'm crying all over again.

Good news? I didn't spend $1000 or more to fly to Orlando from the freezing north before the blizzard hit, pay for a hotel room at Disney, buy the package to get in all the parks and meet the characters in the hopes of getting out of the cold! Maybe to people from your neck of the woods this is warm but for us, losing palm fronds is not a good sign. Disney elves replace their plants EVERY SINGLE NIGHT while Cinderella is asleep in her castle. Not me. I'll wait until spring.

This is the one time of year that Mickey and Goofy aren't sweating out in the sun, if you know what I mean. I don't want to spoil any secrets here for the young 'uns. I'll check the cupboard and see if my Christmas guests left me any cognac. I tried to hide it behind the wine and other bottles yesterday. I kept pushing the vodka with OJ, cranberry or whatever. At the end of the long day, the Stoli bottle was empty and the Smirnoff still unopened so I thought maybe my Cognac was safe.

I crept into the kitchen and took the small snifter from behind the wine glasses where it hides discreetly, I pulled the Courvoisier out from its dark corner and alas, there was barely a quarter inch of the golden brown liquid clinging to the concave rounded bottom of the corked glass bottle. Would it be enough? I feared it would not so I put the snifter back into its hiding place and instead went to the next shelf.

Reaching my short, stubby fingers up high, I stood on my tippy toes and grabbed two small, stemmed liqueur glasses and brought them down to my line of sight. Yes, yes, I would share the last of the nectar with my beloved. I uncorked the bottle and poured. Halfway to the top of the little glass, just slightly longer than my middle finger, I stopped and moved the lip to the second glass. As I watched the darkness dribble into the clear glazed flute I hoped that it would match the amount in its twin. Drip, drip, drip...I turned the bottle 180 degrees so that the opening was facing directly towards the target and one last little drop plopped in. And that was all.

Putting the pair together I saw that one had the equivalent of an extra few sips and I remembered that this is the holiday season. So I put both in the microwave for 5 seconds and with miniature drinks in hand, went in and handed the fuller one to my hubby. We clinked and we drinked--okay so I'm pushing it there--and it tasted good. One sip at a time the warmth trickled down my throat into my tummy and when the glass was empty, once again, I felt like I was back in sunny Florida. My husband smiled as he licked his lips, put his tongue in the glass to get the last taste, and then in my mouth as we kissed to share the French kiss of Cognac.

Time to turn out the lights.

**A special thank you to my good friend Absolutely*Kate Pilarcik for giving me a holiday boost. You can read more about A*K here.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Red Corvair

What's the point? I figured out that the only revolution I had to fight was my own. I decided that sex, drugs and rock n roll were the way for ME to go. I realized I wasn't going to change the world, I could only change myself. And I did. I got the hell out of Dodge and moved to Florida where the sun shone every day and people were nice to me and we were all broke so I didn't stand out in the crowd. We all shared our drugs and our bodies and our food. Nobody went hungry even if all we had to eat was spaghetti. We did have some University of Miami kids in our apartment complex and they were the rich kids, but they used their money to buy ribs, burgers and anything we could make on the grill on weekends. They fed all of us.

And then when we were all stoned one little moment changed everything. Hank was on his way home from waiting tables at 2 AM and decided to take the shortcut through the ghetto. The bars had just closed so all the drunks were out in the streets. He was tired. It was late. He was going slowly but wanted to get home. A woman stepped out in front of the car and he hit her--the crowd started running to his car and he freaked and stepped on the gas and came home.

When he got to our building he saw my light was still on so he came to my door and we visited for awhile. We talked for about an hour about work and school. Then he said he was really tired so he went to his apartment and I went to bed.

My bedroom was on the corner of the building next to an alley where people sometimes parked their cars. I awoke to the sound of sirens and walkie-talkies and when I looked outside I saw the cops surrounding his red Corvair. I watched them cuff him and put him in the black and white and drive away. I started banging on doors and waking people up. Nobody knew anything. One of the rich college kids was the son of a lawyer. He called his dad. His dad called the court and found out what had happened. He wired money down to get Hank out of jail while the accident was investigated.

The woman was dead. She was black. It was 1969. It was the south.

It was a long drawn out process and Allen's father paid for everything--an attorney, fines, whatever. When it was all over, Hank got a ticket for careless driving.

It changed all of our lives. We were mostly northerners and killing a person (black or white) was a horrible thing, even if it was an accident. Down south there were no charges because she was black. Hank changed. I changed. We recognized that there was no justice. He was so sorry. I thought he was going to kill himself. He was just barely managing to pay for school with that job and he could never go back to the restaurant. He dropped out of school, bought an old pickup truck and hit the road. I was devastated. He was a good kid. His life was ruined. He would rather have gone to jail. He killed a woman and they just gave him a ticket.

We took more drugs. But, one thing we learned was that if one of us was in a bind, the rich kids would come through for us. That was always kind of amazing. Allen and Hank weren't roommates. They weren't best friends. We just all lived in this 40 unit apartment building with a pool in the middle. It looked like a converted motel. It was very communal and we all did the dishes and listened to the Who. Everybody helped everybody else. It was a whole new life. I was so used to being shunned, flat-chested, not pretty enough, and having my mother telling me that I ruined her life, and my family hated me because I was a hippie.

I guess I was on Hank’s side. It was an accident but that woman’s life was worth more than the cost of a traffic ticket. I wonder what happened to him after he left town. A little piece of me left with him in that pickup truck.