Way back in the 1960’s when I was a lad, my parents used to bring all the kids, (There were 7 of us, me being the youngest) to grandma’s house for a visit. Actually, it was more of a drop-off now, Mom and Dad would stay for a minute and then off to go shopping or some other important business matters. (Like go and make more kids) (Not a lot of private time in a house full of 7 kids)
Anyway, my grandmother Veronica was from Ireland, (Both sets of grandparents were from Ireland but that’s not the point here) and every Saturday she would prepare us traditional Irish meals for dinner. Now I’m sure grandma was an excellent cook, however, I was not accustomed to such cuisine. I was more of a meat and potatoes kind of kid. Blood pie (Yes, sounds exactly as terrible as you think) was not my cup of tea. Even her dog, Chrissy, wouldn’t eat the food I attempted to sneak to him from the table without grandma looking. Forced, I would eat as much as I could and move on to playing in the basement of grandma Veronica’s house.
The basement was my haven. Grandma had it decorated like an old-time Western saloon. Veronica called it a Pub, but I thought it was a saloon. Irish, American, Pub, Saloon, same thing. It had swinging doors, a full bar, counter, bar stools, and just about every kind of bottle of alcohol you could imagine. (Grandma Veronica was a heavy drinker and smoker)
The basement was also the place grandma read her magazines and made her phone calls to the local radio talk show host to set them right in their opinions. Veronica would always have a glass of something by her side all the time.
That one afternoon, after playing hard, I was sweaty and thirsty. I saw grandma’s mini glasses (Shot glasses) on the bar counter filled and asked her if I could have some for I had a powerful thirst going on. I assumed the liquid was 7-Up or some other clear soda pop. Grandma looked up and sternly told me that I could not, that the drink was for adults, not children.
I pressed harder. (Pretty please grandma thirty times in a row usually did the trick) After the 30th time, Veronica acquiesced and told me I could have one with one condition. Being thirsty I immediately agreed. Veronica poured me a drink from a clear bottle and then told me to drink it all as fast as I could, all in one gulp. (That’s how the grown up people drink it)
I grabbed the double shot glass and in one quick motion, gulped the drink down. Damn! It tasted like gasoline. Approximately three seconds later my tongue was on fire. The flames quickly spread to my mouth, teeth, throat, and then to my stomach. If it were possible, my ears would have been letting off steam from the heat my body was producing. I started running around in circles screaming and yelling hoping that somehow the flames would subside. They did not. (I seriously felt like my hair was on fire)
Veronica calmly walked over to where I was doing my little Indian dance and gave me a cookie and told me to eat it. I was skeptical of the cookie for the last thing grandma gave me set me on fire. However, Veronica insisted. I ate the cookie. Grandma then told me to get a drink from the water faucet. I think I had two gallons.
After I calmed down, Veronica told me about alcohol, and that only adults were allowed to drink it. She also told me that from that day forward, any time I had the urge to drink alcohol again, I would remember this day and how it tasted.
And grandma was right. I still recall that taste. That is one of the main reasons why I do not drink at all. There, you have now met an Irishman that doesn’t drink.
Alas, if only Veronica would have taught me the same lesson with blood pie.
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LURKING ON THE GRASSY KNOLL