If I had faith, Mom
Rotting in hell this birthday
Would be a comfort.
Type: Belgian ale
Venue: The Hop Inn, Swindon
Review/notes: Walking with Jackie to her job, she asked what the date was. “23rd,” I replied. Then, after a shudder, “oh, right, it’s mom’s birthday.”
After her own brief shudder, Jax asked, “How old would the old bitch be, now? It must be in her 90’s.”
“No, only 87, but there’s a LOT more fire than that many candles could provide where she’s sitting.”
“Yeah, and it’s always 5 minutes till 5.”
“And, she’s destined to carry a massive ice cube that always melts just as she reaches the glass.”
“Liquor stores are all closed.”
“The tabs for the childproof lids on the pharmaceuticals have all broken off.”
“It’s ‘No Smoking.'”
Ahh, how we laughed. I could tell lots of fun stories about mom (she shot me in the face–by accident–while firing on the television in my room because I “don’t spend enough time with family”), but here’s the one we referred to in our little riff, above.
We made an obligatory visit not long before moving to Holland because my dad wanted to sort his estate and my sister, who had systematically and repeatedly stolen from them (granted, he sired a child with her, as well…this could get really complicated if I go on), wasn’t deemed the best Executor of our parents’ final wishes. Jackie only went every other trip like this so only saw them every three-to-four years but we consoled ourselves that Mom’s giant bag of drugs would be worth exploring.
Mom generally worked three or four GP’s at a time for prescriptions and had pharmacists up and down the Georgia coast filling them. Prone to migraines, I would occasionally be struck with a bit of a tension headache (imagine that) which would prompt her to toss the Giant Bag generally my way and say, “there’s something in there for what ails you.” She often would follow this by lobbing a gigantic copy of the Physicians’ Desk Reference a few feet my way. [The PDR is the Bible of the scrip-head.] For reference sake, you can’t have a drug problem if your Doctor prescribed it for you.
So, Mom sat around this particular afternoon and Jackie was mixing us a couple of beverages at a normal-to-quite-strong pour when she asked if Jane wanted one. “No, thank you darling. I’m waiting till 5.” Five. FIVE? When that sank in, I looked at Jackie whose mouth was agape; she felt my gaze and shook it off and brought me mine. Turns out, Ma got it in her head that even if you drink a bottle and a half of bourbon everyday, your can’t be an alcoholic if you wait till five pm to start.
It was a quarter past two.
Mom started chain smoking, lighting one off its predecessor (yes, even faster than the 60-a-day habit normally dictated). Her watch became unbearable, sliding on and off her wrist then suddenly was slammed on the table next to her chair as her foot tapped away at a disco cadence. We made trips out to my dad’s workshop where he was pounding rum and not pretending 5 makes any difference. When he or the south Georgia heat became a nuisance, we would go back in the house to hang with Mom.
At about 4:55 pm, Mom creaked out of her chair and started lining up her drinking tools: a glass that would hold close to a fluid quart, a shot glass (that wouldn’t be used, seeing as the standard measure is third of a glassful–it was just there for show), a bunch of ice trays, a 1.75 liter bottle of Early Times, and a half empty bottle of club soda (which would last until the Early Times was just vapour). Then, she put both hands on the countertop, exhausted. And, watched the clock till 5. Victory. One 5 o’clock at a time.
So, today’s tipple is in Jane’s honour. I got a Palm, an old favourite from my time in the Netherlands, the last day of which tenure I received notice that mom died. Actually, that’s been in dispute since the 70’s when a friend posited that maybe she died in the 1950’s but all the chemicals provided an illusion of animation. We wondered if switching out some of our favourites from the Giant Bag for placebos might be a worthy experiment to test this theory but the delicate balance of pharmaceuticals, nicotine, and grain neutral spirits might result in a conflagration of Biblical proportions should it be upset too dramatically. It was simply too big a risk. Besides, the bitch was armed.
Anyway, I got a Palm: because in the Deep South until the 1980’s, anything you did with an open Palm couldn’t be considered child abuse. Happy Birthday, Mom. Say, “hi,” to Dad.
[DT =Daily Tipple, explained in DT #000 here]