Imagination is a strange thing. Quite a few weeks ago now – how December flies by, more quickly each year – I came across a bit at the New Yorker, a Culture Desk podcast titled “Out Loud: If Food Could Talk.” The snippet of text summarizing the podcast didn’t interest me; rather, it was the title that caught my eye.
Which led to this thought: what might our drinks say about us if they could talk? And how might each one say it?
My imagination started with two foundational assumptions. First, that each beverage – whether a bottle of beer, glass of wine, or lowball – is sitting in a comfortable chair across a small table from James Lipton, who interviews said beverage as if appearing on Inside the Actor’s Studio. Secondly, that each drink speaks with the accent of its origin, and cartoonishly so. Thus, a glass of French wine would have a thick Parisian accent; a bottle of Shiner Bock a thick Texan accent (beneath a 10 gallon hat); and a glass of scotch, of course, a Scottish accent. Regardless, picture a favorite drink and it’s not difficult to personify a regional language influence.
With those assumptions in mind, which of our drinks would keep mum and which would shame us over past exploits? If given the opportunity, what would our liquid friends say?
Beer would immediately air past embarrassments, especially those beers from college. Picture them all, sitting together, laughing and high-fiving each other in mockery over sophomoric pick-up lines, regaling Lipton with tales of beer goggles and the ladies of last call. They’d definitely get some laughs at our expense, and rightfully so. Those were our younger days.
What would liquor bring to light? If Gin were called forth, he’d likely droll on and on – in a Cockney accent, no doubt – of those first years as a working professional, when you still drank like an undergrad and acted the fool when with colleagues and superiors. “But he didn’t know,” Tonic would reply in defense. “he was still learning to drink..he hadn’t learned that you, Gin, aren’t a weekday friend, not when there’s more than two of you.”
At this point, Tonic would gracefully exit and Vermouth would fill the empty seat next to Gin, carefully and methodically repairing your character with stories from later years after taming Gin with more mature and sophisticated cocktail choices. Nevertheless, Vermouth wouldn’t pass the chance to jog Gin’s memory of that one Friday evening where you were found at the bottom of your Martini glass.
Tequila’s brief and noisy appearance, punctuated by much yelling and ruckus, would end abruptly. He’d throw his chair across the set on the way out.
Perhaps it’s best then that our little friends don’t have voices through which to spill our secrets and shameful moments. Instead, our regular friends with smart phones and cameras do that for us. With friends like these, who needs talking barware? Or for that matter, dignity.