Thursday, June 19, 2008

National Martini Day

Big day at MRU (work) today, so I got up at 5 which is only 20 minutes earlier than usual. I left the dog-walking chores to RB, my sainted ex, and actually drove my ancient '86 Honda Civic the 38 miles through the dawning day, NPR my only companion. And it was via NPR that I learned that today is National Martini Day. Now, if you google "National Martini Day", you will find sites that variously proffer June 19, June 17, November 7, and June 1 as National Martini Day. I say that the nation would be better off if every other day were National Martini Day, but that would be o so not-PC. O, the hell with it, I say it anyway.

I'm going with today as NMD because it has broad support and it is convenient to my purposes.

Under the influence of my good friend and bartender, I have given up other inebriants of my life, by which I mean most particularly beer, in favor of fine spirits expertly prepared ... it is a privilege of being half way to the big 110. When I started this experiment turned lifestyle, I could barely finish a martini. Now a pair of them is an occasional treat consequent upon good behavior and a deserving attitude, and I have no trouble therein. (My cute young doctor, whom I like to call Doogie, tells me that an adult male is entitled to three drinks a night, that being any combination totaling three of 1.5 ounces of liquor, a bottle of beer, or 5 ounces of wine ... he is an oenophile, so I assume that he means fine wine, although I just go for the cheap French and Italian Trader Joe's varieties. I try to stick to his limits.)

Not all martinis are equal ... if you want some truly horrifying recipes, check our Hungry Girl or Home Baked Memories. Both of these sites illustrate the regrettable modern tendency to forget that you can't improve on a classic!

I prefer the gin martini. I had quite a time making myself a nightly Tanqueray martini last time I visited my parents in Ontario. For a while, I preferred the Vesper martini, also known as the James Bond martini.

Of course, in fact, I strictly speaking prefer any martini that RL makes since his attention to detail is so precise that his martinis always have the extra 2 percent that distinguishes the good from the great. But tonight, RL is not here, and I must make my own martinis ... the first a Tanqueray and the second based on Plymouth Gin.

Before I wax philosophical, I do have one less-than-edifying martini story ... when I was a mere stripling, perhaps 24, I was invited to a party thrown by a bunch of socialists in a ramshackle old building that I had formerly inhabited. I invited my friend TG who was an 'fb' ... i.e., a person with whom I both played and dallied, as it were ... even though he didn't know a socialist from a hornswoggler. I suppose I invited him because he was fun and sexy and I had ideas for a tryst after all the ideology and enforced dancing. I stopped by his apartment in the West End of Vancouver ... nowadays a hard scrabble working stiff like TG could not possibly afford to live in the West End, but this was in the 70s and life was still possible, as it were, unencumbered by cell phones, SUVs, and the arrogance of the overstuffed ... but I digress. TG had some friends there and they inveigled me into drinking not one but two martinis. For a "stripling" unaccustomed to the quotidian quintagenarian habits he would ultimately affect, two martinis was like a couple of grenades in a powder keg. Boom! TG's friends came to the socialist party, after pouring me into their auto. Gawd noze what happened to them, but I was quickly a quivering ball of drunken idiocy, and there are those who did not allow me to forget my discomfiture for years thereafter ... and of course my plans to waylay the comely TG came to naught ... at least on that night.

So as to the philosophical waxing ... life is a bitch ... or as one whispers in the office, a beeyatch. You do yer damnable best, and you are still back on the bloody train the next morning at 7:19 sharp, with the same cast as the day before, each quickly sinking into their habits be it sleeping, or tappity-tapping on their iPhones and computers, or reading the newspaper, or, as in my case, pointedly stuffing my ears with plugs and yanking out whatever monster tome of ancient times presently has my fancy. When it is all over ... and that involves another train trip ... and the dog is walked and I have made my nightly calls to my sundry old lady friends ... well, then it is time for a martini or whatever other fine spirits are on offer. I enjoy that part of life. I often sit, as I am now, at the counter and watch RL cook and prepare our libation. Tonight I am watching the sainted ex, RB, who has consented to cook for me in RL's absence. But it is the same routine ... I am fatigued from work, filled with speculations, and earnestly desiring the little layback, the tiny release, the satisfaction of that perfect martini.

So ... with due respect to those whose freely choose to refrain ... damn the puritans, screw the sanctimonious ... have a martini ... lift your glass to me or thee or to whomever you choose. And smirk and smile and call out, Long Live National Martini Day!
Photos by Arod of bar windows on Columbus and Polk street respectively in San Francisco.

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