Dietary Requirements

I’ve got an invitation to a works party at the end of the month – oddly enough very close to the American Thanksgiving – that looks good. The people there will be jolly sorts and not at all stuffy. It’ll be perfect for the old ” exploding turkey ” gag. You can do a power of damage with a 25-pounder Butterball, particularly if you choose the H.E. variety.

I will probably take a pot of chili – though the hostess says she’ll have enough food there. The thing is that it may well be edible, but it won’t be FOOD. It will be party food. And I’m not a Party member…

The note inviting me has a subscript that asks me if I have any dietary requirements. The fact that I’m gonna arrive with a cast-iron kettle of chili and cornbread pretty well answers that. But of course she meant other things:

Do I have religious restrictions that prohibit me from eating things that taste good, based upon commandments from the Middle Ages? Well, yes, I do, and mine go back to the Bronze Age. But the Bronze Age was a very long time ago and a very long way away and I do my own grocery shopping here in Australia at IGA.

I do follow strict religious law whenever there is nothing else on the table or when my well-meaning friends make a fuss of it. I’m particularly annoyed when they mention that I won’t be getting any of the bacon or prawns or stroganoff sauce or whatever but I can make it up on extra bread or lettuce…

I plan to bring along my own Dead Sea Scroll with newly-discovered texts that allow everything except eggplant, kidneys, or liver and specifically command the faithful to serve these in double helpings to the everyone else. I shall be generous to all.

As far as chemical imbalances, colonic triggers, or frank allergy, I’m fine. I do like to specify that the food be dead, or at least moving slower than I am. This is to allow me to catch it more easily. I look somewhat askance at mock foods that pretend to be something other than themselves. They may taste fine, but they would eat as well if they were honest about what they are. Frequently the word -association between the real ingredients and the supposed dish are enough to spoil any pleasure. I defy anyone to enjoy mock-tripe, cooked how you will.

I suppose one day I will finally give in to my baser instincts and take some poor woman up on this dietary  requirements thing. She will be thinking pizza squares and cheese on a stick followed by a sausage sizzle and I will demand ( with a doctor’s certificate ) treble-refined Patagonian fleedleberry purée over non-organic turnips. The only downside to the whole thing is if she manages to cook ’em…

 

 

Highball

I went into the first floor cocktail bar of the Intercontinental on Collins Street in Melbourne at 5:00 one afternoon. A day of shopping – mostly successful – and I was ready to sit down and peruse the iPad. And I needed perusal oil to do it with.

I went to the bar and asked for a Highball.

The look of confusion on the face of the young man there should have warned me.

” You want a highball glass? ”

Yes, with a Highball in it. It transpired eventully that while he was familiar with the glassware, he had no idea what the drink for which it is named was made of…

So I told him – ice, rye whiskey, and ginger ale. In a highball glass…

He rose to the challenge, though his inexperience caused him to put two shots of rye in the glass before the ginger ale. I did not think it right to complain.

The next day the highball was served by a more experienced man – and it contained only one shot of rye. Ah, well, you can only win some of them.

Highball: rye, ice, and ginger ale. Named after the American railroad signal that all is clear and you can go ahead at full speed. The British railways do it with a whistle and a flag and the German railways do it with a red disc on a paddle. The American railroads do it with a lantern.

I do it with rye.

 

I’m Not Sorry I Met You…

I just regret that it was at a dinner-dance and not the morgue.

We can all think of people we wish we had never encountered. Ex-partners, schoolyard bullies, dishonest employers, social-club sponges, etc. Of course there are people we regret for the sake of the world; Putin, Trudeau, Mussolini, etc. but they are somewhat removed from our own circle and in most cases we need not take any responsibility for whatever it is that they have done. They are roaches that have not run over our feet.

By the same token, we must be fair – there are undoubtedly people in the world who think of us as unmitigated blisters and regret our acquaintance.  We’ll know of some but be surprised to learn of others – it is a sobering moment when you find out that a friend regards you badly. What we do about this discovery depends upon our characters and the time-frame involved…if the revelation comes in the middle of soup while dining at the Bishop’s palace, all you can really do is continue slurping and excuse yourself after the savoury. Or pour the tureen over your enemy. Equally good.

The best time of all is to be had watching two separate individuals who have both confided  previously in you that they detest the other…and then see them brought together by  circumstance and forced to be civil. If you can arrange the meeting, so much the better. Just be close by as the atmosphere cools and the language stiffens. It is better than a play, though not quite as good as an Auto da Fé.

Is it fair to set these things up? No, of course it isn’t. Now that we have gotten that out of the way, here is how you do it:

a. Determine who hates whom. Only the loudest of mouths will advertise themselves in this way – the others need careful attention and the occasional trick question. Try Donald Trump as a touchstone for this and ask if anyone in the social circle reminds your victim of Trump. Or use Justin Trudeau, if you don’t mind the sort of language this will generate.

You goal is not to find someone who hates everybody, but someone who dislikes someone – in particular. It need not be overweening hatred – distaste will do nicely. Then find out if the object of this negative emotion entertains a reciprocal dislike for the first person. If they do, you have your fighting pair.

b. Bring them together. Social club gathering are good for this, as are barbeques, theatre nights, and sporting events. If you can arrange things well, you will have major ingredients to hand with little obvious work.

The ingredients? A crowd who knows one another and who is drinking alcohol. This gives you an audience and a chemical that relaxes natural caution while fuelling passion.

Find a space that does not allow either party to stay aloof to start with nor to escape readily as things heat up. Like a fission reaction, it must all be contained for a microsecond to build up enough pressure to detonate.

c. Introduce a topic upon which they disagree. It need be no more than the correct way to spike tyres – the main thing is to arrange it so that they are both right in the eyes of themselves, wrong in the eyes of others, and unable to back away from the fight. Politics, religion, and sex are always good for this. If you can get them to fight over nothing that anyone else understands it is even better.

d. Try to calm them down by reminding them that people are watching. This will have the effect of making more people watch. See if you can get people to video it on a mobile phone and to be seen by the combatants doing so….It is encouraging and modern.

Make peace by telling them that they are grown-ups. This will bring out the childishness. If you can go beyond shouting and scuffles to actual hair pulling and scratching, you have a chance for a viral YouTube clip. Your combatants will cherish this in years to come.

 

 

The Manhattan Project Party

A recent phone call from a friend has suggested a project for the new year.

Our local SES has used water bombers for a number of years to help cope with bush fires. I am going to propose that they acquire a Canadair CL 415 amphibious fixed-wing airplane and lend it out to me for party purposes.

The aircraft has a tank that will hold 6100 litres of water or fire retardant. If we clean the tank well, we can use it as a giant cocktail mixer.

4000 litres of rye whiskey, 2000 litres of Cinzano Rosso, a bath tub full of orange bitters and a truckload of lemon peel should do it. Take off from the local light plane airport, go to max height until the tank cools down, and then head back to Perth at 500ft.

If we gather the guests on one of the local football ovals, glasses in hand ( or, for that matter, water buckets…) the pilot will be instructed to dump the load as soon as he clears the perimeter of the ground. Those who wish to stand there with their heads held back and their mouths open may do so. If the crowd is dense enough there should be little spillage.

I am still trying to locate a serviceable B-24 to deliver the canapés and snacks. If they can get a Norden bombsight this can be done from 4000 ft. In the interest of public safety we are going to avoid anything with bamboo skewers.

 

Home Two – Drink

live at home.

That means I get to drink at home as well. And I ‘m not talking about buttermilk. I have a liquor cabinet and a wine rack and enough clean glasses to host a block party.

The advantages of drinking at home are many:

a. There is no danger of being over the .05 % alcohol limit on the road. The car is parked in the carport, I am parked at either my dinner table or in front of my fireplace and I can have that cocktail without trepidation.

b. The cost of the drink is much lower than the same thing in a pub, club, or restaurant.

I do not begrudge the licensed premises their prices and profits – I realise that they pay far more in maintaining their business than just my pint or martini. They must have a fair return to be there.

But I do growl when I see the price of half a bottle of whiskey being charged for a cocktail that has one jigger of liquor in it tricked up with a show and a shot of water. If I was incapable of making a better cocktail I would have to accept this, but I own a Savoy book and good implements and know how to measure and shake.

c. I can have what I like, rather than what is on offer at the bar. My tastes are pedestrian enough that my local bottle shop can cater for any whim. I do not whim often, but stick to what I enjoy and to what does me good..

d. It does me good. A daily tot ups the spirits without drowning the intellect. I feel the master of the house when I can call for a glass…even if I then have to go and prepare it.

e. I can afford to treat friends who call. And there is none of that multiple buying frenzy that happens when a group meet in a pub. I am standing the rounds in my own house and while I might pour many, I only need to drink the amount that suits me.

f. No Zone Of Smoke to pass through coming in and out of my house.

g. I can go to bed when I like. This may involve putting out the cat and the visitors, but the mat is a big one and accommodates them all.

It Must Be True – Because I Read It

A. And if it wasn’t true they wouldn’t have printed it…

B. Because I read it. Me. Not some other unimportant person. Me.

C. And anyway, if it wasn’t true, it ought to be true.

D. Because I want it to be true.

F. No, I don’t remember where I read it. I just did. Somewhere.

G. And why are you asking all these questions? Are you a communist? You sound like a communist…

H. Because you’re asking all these questions, that’s why.

I. Go on – prove you’re not a communist.

J. That’s not proof. Anyone can belong to the Republican party and be a Catholic and a Knight of Columbus. You probably have DAS KAPITAL in your bookcase.

K. I’ll bet you voted for Trump. Or Putin. Or Clinton. Go-on. Try to weasel out of that one.

L. Well you would have if you were a citizen. That just goes to show you.

 

 

 

 

” We Must Do Lunch “

In a way, I am grateful for disappointment – it never fails to come through for me in the end.

I’m drawn to this conclusion while mixing the afternoon cocktail, and for once it has happened before the ethanol hits. I am not sure whether this means it is a deeper and truer sentiment or not…you can sometimes get pretty close to the philosophical mark with rye whiskey too…

Promises are a part of life for everyone. They start when we are offered treats or punishment to control our childish behaviour…and they continue through life in an effort elicit that behaviour again. I’m not sure what one promises the elderly, but I’m hoping to find out. It may involve circuses and/or a paddling.

But a promise is a dangerous thing. A black bomb with a sealed fuse. You cannot guess what it will do from the appearance on the outside, though you can get some inkling from the behaviour of the person making it. If they laugh hollowly and run away, you can be pretty sure it will blow up in your face.

The thing about the promise is that it must needs be kept to keep up the reputation of the speaker. If it is not – and as soon as it is perceived that it is not – the promisee is morally free to call the other person a liar. That is a grave charge in any society- even in Parliament. Yet not all promises made are actually meant to be taken seriously…and there is rarely any subscript or key to tell the listener whether they are hearing something authentic or just social convention:

” We must do lunch ” = ” I have no intention of meeting you again “.

The people who suffer most from this seem to be those with the altered perceptions of autism. I suspect they hear the words, but not the implied convention, and it must be a hell for them to sort out one from the other. Genteel conversation would become impossible, codified as it is in exchanges of platitudes and common-places interspersed with actual communication. How do they decode it at all?

I think the best thing we could all do is speak plainly. Or not at all. Things that need to be said, can be said, and the other conventionalities that act as social excelsior to cushion the conversation can just be left alone.

And I really mean that. With all my heart. I promise thee. We must do lunch. Is that call for me…?