Short Stories by a Longwinded Guy No. 100

Toast

Raise your hand if you remember your first hangover. I’m 15 and laying in bed Saturday morning when Mom comes up to check on me because it’s the first time I ever missed breakfast in 15 years. "What's wrong?"

"I’m sick."

She walks out, and comes back a minute later, this time with her arms folded - usually a bad sign.

“What’s really wrong?”

Nauseated to near death,  I confess. “Mommy, I’m hung over.” I sound like a toddler admitting to an adult crime.

Mom was a natural-born Jewish grandmother, a real Goodie-Two-Shoes. I never got caught making mischief because mischief was beyond her frame of reference.

“What did you drink?”

“Canadian Club and Coca-Cola,” I groan.

I’m waiting for her to hit the roof. “Aha! Coca-Cola! Never mix your drinks. Drink Scotch straight, Dewars or better.”

Who is this woman?

“If you like, add an ice cube or two.” My jaw drops. She leaves and comes back with tea and toast.

Years later we’re together at a party. I’m telling this story. Mom hears me get to the “Dewars or better” part and she explodes. “I never said that.”

“Ma, it was a major event in my life. I remember exactly what you said.”

And in a very posh, arrogant voice she replies, “I said Chivas or better.” 

The truth is back in ’65 Mom didn’t know from Chivas. The family liquor cabinet was quite modest, and it didn’t know from Chivas. But back in the ‘80s Cousin Michael was the boy toy of a multi-millionaire heiress. That woman knew Chivas. It wasn't until that woman hung out with the family in the '80s that Mom elevated her tastes to the finer levels of malt beverage.

A few things come to mind. That in America, even Mom, the daughter of an immigrant sweatshop tailor from a family of seven raised in a two-room flat, can grow up to enjoy expensive Scotch with a wealthy heiress.  Also, that in America, a modest, black-leather-jacketed thug like Michael can grow up to screw around with that same wealthy heiress. And finally, even though it’s nice at any age to win an argument with your mother, parents will always be a font of wisdom. To this day, my drink of preference is a Scotch with two ice cubes - Dewars or better. A lot better if I can swing it.

And as Mom would toast: "L'Chaim - To Life." Be careful out there, Friends.

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