Jamie and I have finally severed our last tie to the once great state of California. We just sold the first rental home my parents purchased back in 1961. It was in the family for almost exactly sixty years.
On what sounds like a completely different subject but really isn’t, my dad wasn’t much of a drinker. He consumed a bit more alcohol than I do, but I’m damn near a teetotaler. I’ve always assumed he limited his alcoholic intake because his favorite drink was the most godawful concoction in the history of alcohol. Seriously. Think up the worst alcoholic beverage you can imagine and I guarantee you that his drink of choice was worse.
When friends came over for a visit, he would excuse himself, mosey into the kitchen, and mix up a highball for everyone in attendance. That was what he called a glass of Canadian Club whiskey mixed with chilled Welch’s purple grape juice.
Have you ever heard of anything so disgusting?
According to Wikipedia, “A highball is a mixed alcoholic drink composed of an alcoholic base spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer. Examples include the Seven and Seven, Scotch and soda, and rum and Coke. A highball is typically served over ice in a large straight-sided highball glass or Collins glass.”
I guess my dad’s concoction met the strict definition of a highball. It did, indeed, have an alcoholic base spirit, the Canadian Club, and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer, the Welch’s grape juice. But what a hideous combo. Furthermore, our family had no fancy store-bought glasses, so I’m pretty sure he served his highballs in the repurposed jelly jars we used as everyday drinking glasses. To the best of my recollection, ice was unnecessary because the Welch’s grape juice came straight out of the refrigerator.
What does this have to do with us severing our last tie with California?
Well, Jamie and I decided to celebrate our final break by flying to California and visiting my parents’ graves. We picked up a bottle of Crown Royal (We had no choice. When I asked the liquor store owner for a bottle of Canadian Club, he shook his head sadly from side-to-side and said, “Too old fashioned.” His alternative was an equally inexpensive plastic bottle of Crown Royal) then stopped at a small grocery store to purchase a bottle of cold Welch’s grape juice, and then made our way to the cemetery. After duplicating my dad’s disgusting concoction to the best of my abilities, we choked down our drinks and poured two more over Bill’s and Helen’s graves, just to thank them for the head start in life they gave me.
And then we left California.
Jamie says she’ll return to visit friends, but I swear I’ll never return until god kids get married or have babies or I need to attend a funeral. Who the hell knows? Maybe I’ll go back for something else somewhere along the line, but the state in which I grew up has transformed into something I don’t recognize, don’t like, and don’t want to spend time in.
Give me Texas. Give me Madeira. Give me the Barossa Valley. Give me peace and quiet and politicians who are at least semi-rational and no more than semi-corrupt. Is that asking too much?