Kage Baker, as part of her general tendency toward a ritual life, enjoyed anniversaries. She liked making time to commemorate times, and places, and things: whether it was a birthday or turning on to a previously-untravelled road, Kage honoured it with a toast and a cheer.
She was very into clinking glasses – not so much throwing them in the fireplace, although we tried it a couple of times as adolescents. It’s really only enjoyable if you use glasses you don’t like and have someone else to clean up the mess. As Kage opined, why bother to make a toast in the first place using an ugly glass? And we were the usual clean-up crew, so there was no Under Parlour Maid to come sweep the shards out of the fireplace.
Although, if the glasses were thin enough – brandy balloons, say – and the fire was hot, you did find some interestingly melted glass blobs the next day. You had to be sure there was no brandy left in the glasses, though, or you got a ball of fire. Oh, and fireballs, being spherical, expand equally in all directions open to them – if you’ve blocked them on three sides with a fireplace, that means they expand into the living room and set the hearth rug on fire.
Kage had a way of making sure that an event was memorable afterwards, even if it had been not so much to being with.
In keeping with the realization that we didn’t always have brandy balloons to hand, we made it a habit to clink together whatever we were eating or drinking. Lots of chocolate bars and hamburgers and jam rolls and cartons of Chinese food were clinked. Apples, plums, peaches, single cherries knocked delicately together: plip. There were no end of cans, bottles, glasses, cups and pewter vessels of diverse descriptions, all heavily loaded with alcohol and/or caffeine. Those midget bottles you get on airplanes, or the special displays on liquor store counters. Bottled pre-made cocktails were a particular favourite of Kage’s; they came in all sorts of peculiar varieties and were very portable. I doubt she’d ever have had the courage to order a Brass Monkey in a public bar, but in a bottle off a shelf there was no embarrassment.
Another nice thing about the pre-mixed drinks – which got packed on a lot of our trips – was that Kage liked musical comedy drinks and I do not. So she could have her bottle of Sex On The Beach or a mug of Planter’s Punch, while I drank ascetic silvery gin and tonics or neat whiskey.They were all clink-able; that was the ultimate point.
Kage simply adored goofy cocktails with lots of fruit, and garnishes, and preferably based on rum. She liked them in tall glasses, and if the glasses were shaped like tikis or mermen (there was actually a bar in Pismo that served drinks in those), so much the better. And they should be bright red, or striped red and gold., or blue. One of her late-in-life favourites was called A Lonely Island Lost in the Middle of a Foggy Sea; it involved 3 kinds of rum, pineapple and lime juices, Demerara sugar syrup and cold black coffee.
Just for the record, I’d like to state that the Lonely Island Lost in the Middle of a Foggy Sea tasted vile. (In my opinion.) On the other hand, it did indeed reduce you to the condition described in the title … Zombies, too, infuse the imbiber with the characteristics of their name, especially if you drank 3 of them in the giant clam shell bowls they were served in at the late Trader Vick’s in Hollywood.
I don’t know what we’d be clinking together tonight, if Kage were here. Probably Coke and coffee, which were the usual drinks sitting around near dinner time on a Tuesday. Maybe some mild red wine, tasting of warm dust and blackberries; or a couple of strong imported ales. But I’m fairly sure we’d have raised a glass of something, and I will do so here at my desk, saluting the pale light of my computer screen.
Because tonight, Dear Readers, I have hit a mark unlooked-for and undreamed-of: this blog entry, which I am about to publish for today, January 13, 2015 – this very entry is my 1,000th published blog.
As Miles Gloriosus observes: “Even I am impressed!”
So – a glass with you, Dear Readers. *clink*