Recommended wine for today’s entry: Big Tattoo White 2007, a mix of 75% Riesling and 25% Gewurztraminer. My friend Beth and I shared a bottle last night and decided it was a bit sweet for drinking alone, but would be great with dessert next time. And it’s in a beautiful cobalt blue bottle with a fleur-de-lis on the label and the two brothers who make it (Billington Wine Studio in California) donate fifty cents from each bottle to a cancer charity in memory of their mother.
Recently, my high school classmates and I have been plotting a “not-planning-the-reunion get-together.” You see, we spent the better part of a year having “meetings” to plan our 30th reunion, which went off without a hitch last summer. Many of us agreed that the planning was more fun than the event. The stories/reminiscences abounded, with different peoples’ memories and perspectives sometimes leading to heated arguments about what really transpired.
One story that I remember all too vividly, unfortunately, was the debutante party where I totally insulted my blind date. And I can blame my high school friends. It all happened one summer late in our college years (at least we were of legal drinking age!).
The old gang got together to hang out at my friend Jere’s house, as we often did, the afternoon before most of us planned to attend a deb party for one of the guy’s sisters. Some of us knew our dates for the evening – they were “assigned” by the hosts – and some of us (including me) did not.
So after some swimming and sunbathing, undoubtedly slathered in baby oil, which not only left a shimmery slick in Jere’s pool for his mother to deal with later but also gave us all a swift kick toward future melanoma, someone suggested a rousing game of quarters.
If you don’t know how to play quarters, the rules are simple: You go around the table, and if you can get the quarter to land in the tumbler of beer on one bounce, you get to select someone at the table to drink it.
Unfortunately, it is often the most obnoxious person or the girls who end up getting “the elbow.” (You can’t point with your finger; you must point to the chosen drinker with your elbow. Don’t ask me why – just someone trying to make a drinking game too complicated for those of us who had trouble with rules.)
Well, I was one of three girls and admittedly the most obnoxious. So then I became a member of a third subset: the drunkest. After an hour of so of quarters, we all left to go get ready for the evening.
We had cut it close on time for the debutante party, so when I got home I raced upstairs and went to sleep.
Then my mother came up and, aghast, awakened me and told me I needed to get dressed. A quick shower, some assistance with the dress from my sister, and I was propped at the top of the stairs by the time my dad let my date in the door. “Ash!” my dad bellowed from the entry hall. “Your date’s here!”
Well, my dad wouldn’t have been very happy to know that I’d ingested about five quarts of beer and two quarters in the course of the afternoon, so I took a deep breath, fixed my hair, got my eyes facing the same direction and floated, ladylike, down the stairs.
Until I got to the landing. My dad, six-foot-five, stood next to what looked like the shortest man I’d ever seen. He was cute enough – just very short, and he had a full, though neatly groomed beard.
“I didn’ know I had … had a date wif … one-a the seven dwarfs!” I stammered, using the wall for support. Well, the poor date looked like he was considering leaving. But he was a gentleman, held the door for me as I stumbled down the stairs in front of him, reaming him out for coming to the front door with the long walkway.
Then we got in the car and he tried to start a conversation.
“I just got back from Africa,” he said, all worldly and passport-carrying and exotic.
“Well, I just got back from Jere’s. And we played quarters.” Total trump card, I know.
“Oh, uh – have you ever been to Africa?”
Now I was starting to feel a little under the weather and wasn’t in the mood to be nice. I guess.
“Why in the world would I have been to Africa?” I said. “I’m still in college. I’ve been to Florida and I’ve been to North Carolina. And Denver. No, I haven’t been to Africa.”
I leaned against the passenger door, turned to face him while I picked a fight that had no purpose. I waited until he looked over at me. “And Cleveland. I’ve also been to Cleveland,” I added smugly.
He was starting to look really mad and he was taking the left-hand curves really fast, like maybe he was hoping my door would fly open and he could deposit me, polyester dress and Old Milwaukee breath and all, into the drainage ditch.
But I locked the door because, even though my friends bullied me and made me drink more than they did, I still had my survival skills.
Once we got to the country club, I actually sobered up. A few glasses of water, followed by some invigorating caffeine perked me up quite a bit.
Then I got the hiccups. Caffeinated hiccups, the kind that come every 2.3 seconds or so. Convulsive hiccups. And they started as I was going through the receiving line, congratulating the debutantes on how beautiful they looked and thanking their parents who had spent a fortune only to have the white trash girl insult her perfectly fine date then get hiccups.
Anyway, the perfectly fine date left with one of the country club’s bartenders and I couldn’t blame him. One of my friends from the quarters game gave me some aspirin and a ride home.
Happy-turned-Grumpy never called me again. Go figure.
I don’t think I ever played quarters again either.