Single Barrel

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A Tale of Drunkenness and Debauchery

I am packing up my kitchen for my upcoming move. While wrapping up the glassware I noticed that I’m one shot glass short in my “matched set”. I also found, for the second time, the bottle of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel and was reminded of a night of drunkenness and debauchery that I, truthfully, don’t really want to remember.

It was the night of the “Ugly Sweater Party” that was to be held at the house I have been living in, until just recently, with my (now) twenty-two year old son. After his roommates, his high school buddies, all moved out for different schools, branches of armed services, lifestyles, I moved in to help save us both some money on rent. This arrangement worked out well for a bit over a year, but we have both found more affordable living arrangements and are moving on. Thus, the packing up of the kitchen.

I first learned of the “Ugly Sweater Party” on Facebook, I got an event invite, to a party, at my house. I must admit, I was pretty relieved, otherwise I may have felt a little awkward sneaking from room to room upstairs, undetected, while the party raged on downstairs.

My daughter and her Navy husband were home for the holidays, so they would be there, and my son’s best friend and former resident of “the house” was home from school in Hawaii and was staying with us, too. Others were invited both on and off Facebook, and no one really knew just how many people were planning to attend. I still don’t know how many people attended. Hmmm.

I am always on a budget, so I had no plans of supplying alcohol for the shindig, though I had a bottle of wine and some beer I could enjoy. My son in law had brought a very nice bottle of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel whiskey in a lovely black box to share with family over the course of the holidays, so that wasn’t really on the “menu” for the party, though it was proudly displayed on the kitchen counter. I bought some chips and such, and fortunately, everyone who showed up brought something to contribute to the drunken debauchery that was about to develop. I also had several extra ugly sweaters (from my frumpier days in the nineties) available for those who showed up looking “normal”.

Guests began to arrive, all twenty somethings, and there I was, my matronly self, sipping an exquisite oatmeal stout, chatting with “the kids”. The subject of wine came up and so out came the wine for a generous tasting. Then another beer.

There was a group of young men in the kitchen pouring a round of shots of rum, somehow I was included in this, an unlikely talent of mine is the ability to down a shot of straight anything without a wince, a flinch or a chaser, and apparently, as this had only been witnessed by a few in attendance, I was encouraged to participate. Again. And again. We quickly ran out of rum.

The bottle of Single Barrel was set to the side of the counter, though my daughter and son in law had since left for another evening obligation. At this point, I was feeling a little affected, and I really didn’t want this lovely, expensive bottle of whiskey to be squandered on a group of already drunk college and military kids who weren’t part of the “family” intended to partake of it.

I did, though, have a bottle of “ordinary” Jack Daniels in my secret hiding place, so I quickly ran and retrieved that and shared it, one shot at a time, with the crowd in the kitchen. We quickly ran out of whiskey.

Another appeared, though I don’t know from where, or how, and I don’t think I really realized that it was indeed another bottle of Jack until the next morning when I found two empties. I only contributed the one partial I’d had hidden in my secret hiding place.

I remember standing, or perhaps leaning, in the kitchen, thinking to myself, “whoa, I think I’ve had enough and if I hang out much longer I won’t be remembered for my unlikely talent of being able to down a shot of straight anything without a wince, a flinch or a chaser”. I remember walking, requiring a great deal of focus, concentration and determination, from the kitchen, through the living room, up the stairs, to my room, and that’s the very last thing I remember.

Morning came, the sun was up, and at this point I decided to change out of my clothes, put my big, comfy sweats on and actually get under the covers.

Morning was still happening when I awoke later. I looked at my iPhone. Nope, it was afternoon. Gross. I hate sleeping in. I hate hangovers. Ugh.

My room was a mess, there were knit scarves, hats, mittens and gloves everywhere. And an empty plastic tote in which they all belonged. A flashback; I’d been on the phone and I remember thinking I might need to puke, so I’d pulled the tote down off the shelf in my closet and emptied it so I had a convenient, water – tight, barf bucket close at hand. Nice.

Phone. I’d been on the phone. Another flashback, I’d left the kitchen not only to preserve some degree of my integrity, but because I’d received a text from K-Man of the north (my significant other), his usual picture of a phone, meaning I should call him (I have unlimited long distance, he doesn’t). Thinking a little further back, I think his text was in response to my text “I miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. There may have been more exclamation points, and probably hearts and kissy lips emoticons, too. Knowing me.

I surveyed the mess on the floor some more. Another flashback. I remember sleeping on the floor and, at some point, awakening cold and sore and climbing, clothed still in my Miss Me jeans and my impossibly ugly sweater onto, and not quite into, my bed. There are few things worse than sleeping in your clothes. One of them is sleeping in your clothes after having awakened on the floor after having consumed more hard alcohol in one night than you’ve consumed in the past year, total.

I decided to go to the bathroom. My bathroom. Upstairs, where none of the party goers should have been. There was vomit in the bathroom sink. OMG, was that mine? Or someone else’s? Upon as close of examination I could make of it with my throbbing head and queasy tummy, I deduced that it looked suspiciously like what I’d had for lunch. I dutifully cleaned it up, which wasn’t easy. Draino finally did the trick. Why the sink, the toilet was only six inches away?

I ventured downstairs to survey the damage. It wasn’t all that bad, all things considered. Those things being a houseful of twenty somethings, home from military service and college for a reunion with friends and copious amounts of alcohol, and, apparently, vast sums of Taco Bell food.

What a night. The flashbacks were becoming more and more infrequent. I had to piece together the rest of the mystery in a more Sherlock Holmes manner, by analyzing clues. Here are some I found.

Clue one: A note, from, not one, not two, but three twenty something men, scrawled in black Sharpie on hot pink duct tape, plastered to the refrigerator; something about burlesque, beauty (misspelled) and a couple of phone numbers. To me. Oh dear.

Clue two: My wireless headset in it’s cradle, recharging, but my phone was off the hook. I usually use my headset when I chat with K-Man because I can wander around the house and do what I do. Or I can curl up on my floor, too drunk to speak, and prepare to vomit in my knit hat, scarf, and mitten tote.

Clue three: Later in the day I received a rather urgent and business like phone call from K-Man of the North, from the travel agent’s office, in order to confirm his arrival and departure dates. We had agreed, out of economic responsibility, that as much as we’d like to see each other over the holidays, it was more practical to wait until there were more funds in the savings account and airfare wasn’t overpriced due to holiday travel. A very vague flashback including crying, and, oh my, begging. Shame.

Then I remembered the bottle of Single Barrel. I felt, since I was the most adult, age-wise anyway, that I was ultimately responsible for it. That bottle was to have been saved, for later enjoyment by “the family”, as was my son in law’s intent. And as he’d left the party fairly early, if it had indeed been consumed, it would have been without his participation. Fear.

I hurried back downstairs to look and it’s spot on the counter was empty. My stomach sank. Or flip flopped. Or both. I was still feeling pretty wobbly, as in I was probably still at a BAC where I should not consider operating an automobile. And this was well over twelve hours since I’d dismissed myself from the party. Shame.

I lifted the lid to the recycle bin in the kitchen, which was full. I kind of poked around, but I didn’t see the empty Single Barrel bottle. There were two empty “ordinary” Jack Daniel’s bottles, one mine, and the other having come from angels, or devils, or I don’t know. Panic.

There were empty bottles of really crappy beer littering every flat surface in the kitchen. The floor was sticky and the place smelled like what I remember a frat house smelling like; booze, stale beer and Taco Bell. Sick.

About this time, my son and his girlfriend appeared. I asked them about the Single Barrel. Apparently, my son, like myself, thrilled, for once, at the prospect of being able to partake without having to be designated driver, had also overdone a bit. He was having vague flashbacks of his own. Neither of us ever relinquish our self-control enough to get anything more than tipsy, let alone “black out” drunk, we love our control that much. And the one time we do, we choose the same night to do so. An all out search ensues. We searched every cupboard. The guilt builds. We search the living room. The guilt builds. We search the garage, the closet under the stairs, the bathroom, the patio. The guilt builds and builds and builds. We search upstairs. The guilt builds. We both vaguely remember discussing the bottle of Single Barrel with each other, expressing concern and , we thought, executing a plan to preserve it. A plan, apparently, that either wasn’t executed, or was very, very, very good, and then very, very, very forgotten. Dismay.

That night, we confessed our sins to my son in law. We swore the bottle had to be somewhere. He didn’t seem upset or concerned by our act of irresponsibility, and he conducted his own fruitless search. The guilt built further.

A few days later, after cleaning up the house, and even going through all the bags of bottles before dumping them into the recycle bin, which I am still ashamed of when I am outside and neighbors pass. When the recycle truck came by the following week, and strained with the weight of lifting that can, and as the can was upended over the cavernous opening inside the bowels of the truck, for what seemed like an eternity, breaking glass, clanking bottles. So embarrassing. But in all those bottles, I found no evidence of the bottle of Single Barrel. Perplexed.

I found myself at Total Wine a few days later, in preparation for K-Man’s impending visit, I was stocking up on wine and beer. Stocking up may be an understatement, stockpiling may be more appropriate. I ended up with a case and a half of wine and four and a half cases of beer. I felt so guilty about him spending his entire savings to buy a ticket to visit my drunk ass, that I didn’t want him to spend a dime on food or alcohol the entire time he was to be here. While at Total Wine, I picked up a bottle of Single Barrel. They didn’t have it in the pretty black box that the original had come in. The guilt built. But, between you and me, I didn’t know how to open that stupid box, anyway. I tried. Several times. It had a secret latch or closure somewhere. Or maybe you just had to have your wits about you to open it. A drunk proof bottle box. Perfect.

I gave my son in law the bottle and he accepted it with some resistance. My son and I still swore, and my son in law agreed, the original bottle had to be somewhere. But where, we had no idea. Ever since the party, we had been making frequent, random searches throughout the house; the laundry room, the linen closet, the garage, again.

I was home alone, which was highly unusual at this time of year with now four extra bodies occupying every bed, couch, love seat and ottoman in the house for the entire holiday season. I was looking for something in my closet. As I have the “kids’ bedroom”, my son has the master (I moved into his house), I have to hyper-organize my stuff. I came from a large, luxurious walk-in closet, now I have a small cave with the silly slide back and forth doors. I have plastic totes for everything; knits hats, scarves, gloves, and mittens. Another for bras. Another for socks. Another for hiking apparel. I have pant hangers with my scarves on them. I have a real weakness for scarves. I have hundreds. They hang down off the hangers in a dazzling array of colors, patterns and textures. They make me happy. Sometimes i just open my closet to admire the jumble of scarves, spilling in a textile waterfall nearly to the floor of the closet. My sock and bra bins are behind the scarves. There is a stack of bins just to the left of these where I keep other stuff, like gift bags and wrapping paper. As I moved the scarves aside to access the bins, there it was. The Single Barrel. In it’s box. Unopened. Safe.

The last flashback, though vague; a drunken discussion with my son, mid-party, probably somewhere between the first and second bottle of “ordinary” Jack. I remember, sort of, telling him to put the Single Barrel in my closet, on top of the gift wrap bin, where I’d always hidden my reserve of Jack (which he never knew). He vaguely remembers this discussion as well, and we have comedically re-enacted it a few times, because it must have been pretty funny to witness. Drunken me, clutching the coveted bottle of Single Barrel, lurching over to my son, swaying, handing the bottle to him and saying “Goh upshtairs (pointing, here, I’m sure) and put thish in my closhet. On the bins, behind my shcarfsh, sho no one drinksh zit”. He likely replied, “got it” and dutifully lurch stepped over to the stairs, arm extended, bottle grasped around the neck with a clenched fist, white knuckled to be sure not to lose grip on it, looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was observing his stealth like moves as he surreptitiously removed the Single Barrel from harm’s way.

After it’s discovery, I took a picture of it and texted it to all parties privy to the situation. It was returned to it’s rightful owner and ended up being enjoyed at another Facebook/party/event I organized during the season; Game Night. Nothing like a fermented game of Apples to Apples! This party was a bit more controlled. There was drunkenness and debauchery, but not me, though I did show off my rare talent for taking shots, but only twice.

Needless to say, with two full bottles of Single Barrel, and after a party of such epic proportions, when the holidays were over, shortly thereafter, and all but my son and I boarded airplanes for various parts of the world, the north, Alaska, the south, Brazil, the east, South Carolina, there was still a partial bottle of Single Barrel. Somewhere. And now, nearly two months later, I have discovered it’s hiding place in the kitchen. The missing shot glass, however, I fear is lost for good. Probably also a victim of drunken debauchery at the hands of someone in a very ugly sweater. As for the remaining Single Barrel whiskey, I guess I’ll put it in a box and take it with me when i vacate this abode. I’ll be sure to mark the box in large, bold letters “SINGLE BARREL”, lest the bottle be lost again.

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