Going Bananas

You know how you’ll be cheerfully going on with life, and suddenly the fates deliver a spate of occurrences related to the same obscure item?  Well, for the last couple of weeks it’s been bananas.  Actual bananas; although things have been a bit bananas in the metaphorical sense, too.

Digression:  Why do we say ‘going bananas’?  What makes bananas crazier than any other fruit?  We don’t ‘go apples’ or ‘go peaches’.  Although now that I think of it, I kinda like ‘going kumquats’.

Back to my point:

I realize bananas aren’t particularly obscure. They’re always in fruit baskets and grocery stores; but they lurk unobtrusively in the background (at least, as unobtrusively as any large yellow phallic object can lurk).  But lately they’ve been popping up in my life repeatedly.

It all started with Hubby. And no, I’m not going to make an off-colour reference to his banana popping up; though the temptation is strong. (Yikes, maybe I’m finally growing up! But probably not.)

Anyway, you may recall that we’ve been experimenting with tomato wine and cider. It’s too soon to tell whether any of it will be palatable, but as a preemptive (or maybe defensive) action Hubby has been researching wine conditioners, i.e. ‘anything that will make vile rotgut tolerable enough to swallow’.

And guess what? A lot of people condition their fruit wines with banana wine.  To me, that sounds like starting with shit and adding new shit in the hope of creating something that doesn’t taste like shit; but what do I know?

That was the first banana-related occurrence.  Next I went out to visit my step-mom. One morning as I reached for the fruit basket, she said, “You do know how to open a banana correctly, don’t you?”

I hesitated, wondering if this was the setup for a joke or the introduction to an etiquette lesson (because everybody knows that ‘ladies’ eat bananas sideways in public). Turned out it was neither.

“I saw it on TV,” she said. “You hold them by the stem, parallel to the floor with the tip curving up, and then snap your wrist down and the banana will open.”

And damn, she was right.  After more than fifty years on this earth, I finally know how to open a banana.

Flushed with my new knowledge, I suggested to Hubby that it would be an efficient way to peel a bunch of bananas if he decides to go ahead with the banana wine.

He raised a skeptical eyebrow. “What if the bananas are really ripe?” he inquired. “Like they are when you make banana bread.  Because that’s how ripe they need to be for wine.”

“Oh,” said I, crestfallen. “No, that would probably end up more like ‘squish-splat’.”

From there the conversation devolved into speculations about banana-bombs and other forms of domestic warfare.  We never did get back to banana wine; but it’s probably for the best.  The smell of fermenting bananas would drive me kumquats.

Have any bananas popped up in your life lately?

Book 15 update:  At last, some quality writing time!  I’m halfway through Chapter 12 and John has just saved the day… for now…

Alcoholity 101

Though I generally avoid religious and political discussions, today I’d like to introduce you to a widely-practiced but poorly-documented religion: Alcoholity. As a practicing member, I think it’s important to spread the Holy Word so that Alcoholity can be given the rights and recognition it deserves.

Archaeological records show that Alcoholity was practiced as early as 10,000 B.C., long before any other organized religion. After thousands of years of development, Alcoholity today is divided into two main branches: BeerHallicism and ProBoozetantism.

BeerHallicism is the more stringent of the two branches. Devout BeerHallics attend services at their local place of worship on all High Holy Days, which include Friday evenings, Saturdays, Sundays, days the in-laws visit, and any day on which a major sporting event takes place. Additional days of worship may also be observed at the adherent’s discretion. The most orthodox BeerHallics also designate a day after High Holy Days as a Day of Contemplation, which requires fasting, resting in a dim room, and abstention from loud noises.

Orthodox BeerHallicism is not for everyone. In addition to the extensive time commitment, it frequently comes with a heavy burden of guilt and also requires a rigorous Confession upon returning home at the close of each High Holy Day.

ProBoozetantism encompasses a number of denominations and is a less demanding branch of Alcoholity. ProBoozetants observe the High Holy Days to varying degrees, and unlike BeerHallics they are not required to attend services in a designated building. Services may take place in restaurants, private homes, at sporting events, or even in public places (though open-air services tend to be subjected to religious persecution by the authorities).

The three main denominations of ProBoozetantism are Presbeerterians, Wineglicans, and Liquorists. Their liturgies are very similar, differing mainly in the content of their Holy Communion, though Wineglicans also perform a complex ceremony with the Communion glass resulting in a euphoric state similar to Rapture.

On the subject of Holy Communion, it should be noted that while scholars consider fruit juice and yeast to be the true Body and Lifeblood of Alcohol, all current branches of Alcoholity accept the consumption of any form of booze and food for Holy Communion.

In addition to the three main denominations, many smaller offshoots of ProBoozetantism exist, such as Coolerism, Shooterism, Cocktailism, ‘Shineism, and even Screechism, a tiny sect existing only in Newfoundland, Canada which includes a baptism/confirmation ceremony called a ‘Screech-in’ that requires speaking in tongues and bestowing a kiss upon the holy Cod.

Unlike most other established religions, Alcoholity is inclusive. As the religion continues to evolve, denominational lines are becoming increasingly blurred and ecumenical services are common.  Even the most orthodox BeerHallics warmly welcome everyone to their places of worship to participate in Holy Communion. ProBoozetants and nonbelievers alike are allowed to bow over the BeerHallics’ holy altar, the Pool Table, and everyone worships with equal fervour before the Big Screen.

And the best thing about Alcoholity is that it can be practiced concurrently with almost all of the other mainstream religions.

With such rich historical tradition and widespread adherence, it’s long past time for Alcoholity to be recognized as a mainstream religion. Please lobby your local authorities to write it into law.

And remember: Your employer must accommodate your need to observe the High Holy Days, and may even be required to do so with full pay or face legal action for discrimination on the basis of religion. Schedule a meeting with your Human Resources liaison today and demand your religious rights!

Oh, and let me know how that goes for you…

Baby, Duck!

This weekend I was treated to a blast from the past.  We invited friends over for dinner, and one couple arrived bearing a bottle of Baby Duck.

For those unfamiliar with Baby Duck, it’s a ‘wine’ that was introduced to Canada in the early 1970s:  fizzy grape juice with lots of sugar, some alcohol, and a generous dollop of successful marketing.  Oenophiles may recoil in horror, but the truth is Baby Duck was part of the formative drinking years of an entire generation.

The friend who brought it this weekend confessed that she drank Baby Duck for the first/last time at a party long ago where she singlehandedly polished off one and a half bottles… and has never drunk it again.

So many people had their first disastrous drinking experience with Baby Duck that the name became a bit of a joke.  As the victims fled for the bathroom, stomachs heaving, a sardonic cheer would go up from the rest of the revelers as they scattered to provide a clear path:  “Baby, duck!”

My very  first drinking experience was as a young teenager, maybe fourteen or fifteen.  One day our family departed the sticks and went to the Big City for a family visit, and my city cousin took me out for Chinese food.

Imagine the importance of this event in the life of a backward young hick!  I’d never had Chinese food.  And my almost-grown-up cousin (she had a driver’s license and a car…!) was taking me out, just the two of us, like adults.  And when we got to the restaurant, she casually ordered us each a Singapore Sling!  (Even though we were both too young to drink I guess we looked close enough – we didn’t get asked for ID.  Times were simpler then.)

My parents had both come from non-drinking households, but they figured the safest way to protect their kids from dangerous rebellion was to introduce the concept of responsible drinking.  So they had already explained the concepts of alcohol and intoxication, and every now and then they drank a glass of wine with dinner while we were growing up.  They didn’t make a big deal of it, but we understood that alcohol was an adult thing.

So I was wildly excited by the grown-up meal… and I was afraid I’d get drunk and embarrass myself.  I still recall how yummy the almond chicken was, and I still recall wondering if I was drunk yet because I didn’t feel any different after one cocktail that was probably mostly fruit juice.

Needless to say when I went off to university a few years later I discovered that you’re not actually drunk until you’ve consumed seven Zombies (three kinds of rum, apricot brandy, and fruit juice) a couple of Brown Cows (Kahlua and cream) and then topped it off with a couple of warm beers that nobody else dared to drink.  (Gee, I wonder why…?)

I’ve been blessed with a cast-iron stomach and a lightning-fast metabolism, so that night I staggered home laughing all the way and fell into the dreamless slumber of the just and the intoxicated.  My drinking buddy at the time wasn’t so lucky – she spent the entire night talking to Ralph on the great white telephone and silently cursing my oblivious snores.

I think she’s forgiven me after more than three decades, but she’ll never forget.

Anybody else remember their first drinking experience?  Or prefer to forget it?

Beef Is A Vegetable

Yes, it’s true.  Beef is a vegetable, and today I’m going to give you a logical explanation as to why that’s so.

And as a special bonus, I’m going to address the age-old question posed by unhappy students ever since Plato and Aristotle started flapping their gums all those centuries ago:  “When will I ever use these grand principles of logic in real life?”

The answer is ‘frequently’… if you have a devious mind and a burning desire to justify unhealthy nutritional choices.

Hubby and I have both.

Frankly, I was a lot happier when I thought the four basic food groups were sugar, salt, fat, and booze.  But then I went and educated myself about proper nutrition, not realizing how that knowledge would cut into my enjoyment of the all the tastiest treats in life.

On my more cynical days, I figure cutting out all the best yummies won’t actually make me live longer; it’ll just seem like it.  But since my main ambition is to not die of my own stupidity, I generally make an effort to eat well.  And on the days when I don’t feel like doing that, I use logic to justify my poor food choices.

‘Cause, like, y’know, logic is like, all sophisticated and stuff, so that makes me feel smarter when I’m ingesting enough saturated fat to bung my arteries solid.

I’ve already discovered a few useful pre-rationalized vices.  I’m sure just about everybody has seen the one about how chocolate comes from a bean, and beans are vegetables.  And vegetables are healthy and an essential part of good nutrition, therefore it’s necessary to eat chocolate.

Or the one about how grapes are fruit, and wine is made from crushed grapes, therefore wine is just as healthy as fruit juice.

And barley sandwiches are a super-nutritious meal, too.  (For those unfamiliar with barley sandwiches, the main ingredients in beer are barley and yeast, which are essentially the same ingredients as bread…)

If you think that’s a weak argument, never mind – I have a better one.  Beer fights cancer, so it’s actually medicinal.  And I just re-read that article and discovered that they consider a ‘healthy’ intake of beer to be up to two or three units a day for women.  Dammit, I’ve been under-medicated!  Bring on the beer!

But the people who thought up those rationalizations are rank amateurs compared to my husband.  He has actually formulated a logic chain to justify eating gigantic quantities of steak:

Beef is a vegetable.  And vegetables are healthy.

I did point out the food pyramid to him, indicating where there was a clear differentiation between meats and vegetables, but he just shook his head with the patient tolerance of a Zen scholar and proceeded to enlighten me.

“It’s simple,” he explained.  “Cows eat grass.  Grass is a vegetable.  You are what you eat, so beef is a vegetable.”

I couldn’t argue with that even if I wanted to.

Is that the sweet, sweet smell of barbeque?

Gettin’ Down At A Piss-Up

This weekend, we attended the Grape Escape, a showcase of food, wine, and liquor.  As usual, there was a mind-boggling and delicious array of food and booze.  As usual, we poured ourselves into a cab afterward and managed to maintain a semi-vertical orientation while we staggered into our house.

Many of the other attendees didn’t manage to stay even semi-vertical.  By the end of the four-hour event, bodies were propped against the walls, and I was saved from being crushed only because a garbage can intercepted the fall of the very tall man stumbling determinedly in my direction.

Considering that 2,500 shit-faced strangers are confined in one large hall for four hours, it’s a remarkably orderly event, probably due to the pairs of police officers sprinkled strategically throughout the venue.  We go every year, so none of this surprised me.

What did surprise me was the sheer number of seductively-dressed women in attendance.  I obviously failed to realize the hook-up potential of the show.  It was -20 outside.  I saw more exposed flesh there than at a Calgary beach in the middle of summer.  Not to mention 4”+ stiletto heels, which are truly entertaining when their wearer couldn’t walk a straight line if she was barefoot and holding two handrails.

The crowd was cheerful and all-embracing.  Literally.  I wore jeans, a T-shirt, hiking boots, and a wedding ring.  By the end of the event, guys even started coming onto me.  I’m not sure whether they couldn’t see straight enough to realize they weren’t talking to the cute young thing beside/behind me, or whether they just didn’t care that much anymore.  Gotta love beer goggles:  improving middle-aged women’s self-esteem since the invention of beer.

I felt sorry for the long-suffering vendors by the end of the night, though.  I’m pretty sure there were only a handful of us who were still capable of focusing both eyes on the label while they extolled the virtues of their Sauvignon Blanc.

Some of that was their own fault, though.  They were generous with their samples, and there were a couple hundred different kinds of beer, wine, liqueurs, and hard liquor.  Take even a mouthful of each, and you won’t make it around all the displays.  I speak from happy experience here.  Very happy.

I was delighted to discover some new favourite beers and wines, but I guess I missed the main point of the event, which was apparently to get pissed and get down.

I didn’t quite achieve “pissed”, but I was close.  Next year, I’ll try harder.  And maybe I’ll get myself some 4” stilettos, too.  It’s cheap amusement to see a guy’s expression when I peer down at him from a 6’2” height.  Fortunately, Hubby’s secure in his manhood, and at 5’7”, he doesn’t mind being eye-level with a couple of my more outstanding features.

And, hey, when you’re wearing heels that high, getting down at the end of the evening is a sure thing.  Who says four inches can’t be satisfying?