Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Stiff Upper Lip

I never thought I'd be someone who worried about being too cheerful. I've always had a bit of an Eeyore-Donkey streak in me. My husband, on the other hand, is like the sun rising on a clear morning.

"You know what I HATE about you?" I snapped at him once, in the midst of an especially intense Personal Cloud of Gloom, "You're an optimist! I hate optimists!"

Fortunately, Ken has lived with me long enough to know that I don't really hate a) optimists or b) him. This despite the fact that I privately believe any airplane I board is doomed. This despite the fact that I have only recently developed unshakable faith in the power of two tablespoons of melted butter, two tablespoons of flour and one cup of milk to make a white sauce--even though I've been making tuna-noodle casserole that way since the 7th grade Home Ec. Somehow, it's always a miracle when the sauce thickens. I know, I know...

But I found myself in an odd role at a funeral last week. I'm a soprano in my husband's choir in My Other Life, and I was standing with the rest of the singers just before the service. And I was making very quiet, cheerful funeral jokes--perhaps you know the kind I'm talking about. Not disrespectful, nasty guffaws, but the kind of small talk about kitties and new cell phones and Life Goes On that you do when you're trying not to cry. And for a minute, I wondered if I was being uncool in doing that, and then I realized that I most surely was not. And in fact that I had quite possibly graduated to a new level of gal-dom. By gal-dom, I mean the state being a gal, which is in my current vernacular a higher form of being a Grownup Woman. A gal has spunk. She is someone with good taste in makeup, the ability to pick up heavy objects without calling for a male, and (get this!!) a stiff upper lip.

And a stiff upper lip requires--gasp--faith, if not optimism.

This week, the news has been unbearable. One must respond, give money, loan one's Facebook status to Docs without Borders...and one must keep a still upper lip.

A drink helps. I like Ted Haigh's take on The Millionaire for this purpose. It's a sunny name for a drink, and we'll be having one on the show on Friday. Here is my take on what the esteemed Dr. Cocktail proposes in his fine volume, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails:

For each drink:

1 and a half oz of Myer's Dark Rum (Gosling's would probably work fine, too)
3/4 oz sloe gin (London sloe gin is good)
3/4 oz apricot brandy
about one ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste.

Shake hard and serve up in a chilled cocktail glass. I garnished with half a lime wheel. The drink comes out an astounding shade of deep red, and is a tad tart, and should be. Add more lime juice if it isn't. A lime will give you a little over an ounce of juice, usually.

Do NOT serve this drink while wearing a white garment, optimist though you might be.

We'll be listening to a little Hendrix-inspired music from Haiti this week, and Mingus' wonderful Haitian Fight Song from his 1957 CD "The Clown". See you on the air!

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