Act One – Prologue
There are certain sins that one can only appreciate when one reaches a certain maturity. An ice-cold, straight-up, gin martini is one of them. The question is, can one forgive oneself? Can God?
I was raised in a church where I was taught that one drink of alcohol would send you to the fires of hell for all eternity. Not some kind of wait-and-see place, but the big H-eee-double l. Beelzebub. Forever. Oh, it wasn’t only gin; nearly everything that was fun – a cigarette, a kiss in the reclining position, anything by the Rolling Stones – would make that particular introduction. It’s hard to shake off the devil to find any good in what lies beneath.
I first tasted a martini as a practical joke. It was the late ‘60s. My Junior High friend and I shared a paper route. It was a sweaty humid August day and we had finished our deliveries. He went to his refrigerator and pulled out a large ceramic pitcher. He poured me a glass and I took a slug – then sprayed it out of my mouth like one of those carnival guys who lights his breath on fire. Ice water, no. Dad’s pitcher of martinis, yes. When the 14 year old mind thinks water and the tongue tastes gin is isn’t pretty. It was 20 years before I touched another one.
Nearly every culture allows some secular door to the spiritual. The sweat lodge, 40 days in the desert, Ramadan. God, are you watching? My Friday martini is magic for more than just the moments of actual influence. Much like that vacation on Summer’s horizon, the anticipation of my release begins days before. I look ahead – Friday night? Open. Saturday morning? Nothing until afternoon. The week comes and goes with its accomplishments/strife/challenges. By Friday, I’ve earned it, that feeeeeeeling. The float. The “it’s OK” in a world that often feels otherwise. Forgiveness in a glass.