What did I do when my hometown got hit with its coldest week in 23 years? I put on a long-sleeve T-shirt. Like any good Angelino, when the temperature dropped to 40, I headed to the airport. It wasn’t an instinctive reaction or an impulsive decision—although that would make for a better story—but after a great deal of planning, 12 hours of travel, and several bad airplane sandwiches, I landed in St. Maarten.
There is something about hopping off an airplane and onto a little sailboat in the Carib- bean that made me think I’d be escaping it all. That maybe I’d have some time without emails, without Facebook notifications, and without the constant blabbering of news anchors. As I quickly found out, you may be able to get away from wifi and the pundits of international news, but, even during vacation, there’s no escaping Fireball.
There we were, at the hole-in-the-wall Dingy Dock restaurant in Oyster Pond, St. Maarten, and there it was, dancing devil and all, shining with cinnamon glory (or was it just the anti-freeze?). My dad, many years removed from college life, asked what the bottle was. I insisted it was a college classic.
For the entire third quarter of the Packers game, he kept badgering me with questions, trying to discern just why this particular brand of whisky was so special––“It’s just cinnamon in whisky?”
“What’s so special about it then?”
“Then why is it a college classic?”
“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you.”
He asked for a drink.
Whether he simply wanted to see and taste what all the kids are doing these days, or relive his own glory days, I’ll never know. But for an ER doctor who works enough Halloweens and Fourth of Julys to consistently ask me “Why does everyone drink so much? The stuff isn’t even really good, is it?”––well, I was a little shocked.
My dad is usually a one-beer-and-a-nap kind of man, but after his first Fireball, or maybe his second, I think he finally got it. He didn’t stop yelling at the game’s referees or spontaneously order calamari, but with only a cheap bottle of whisky, we quietly, momentarily, bridged the generational gap. Then we got the check, and like any good Angelino facing either a short walk or a longer ride, he called a taxi.
--Hunter J. Stanley