Whisky, Wine, and Valentine
This year, I had a Valentine’s date – a dinner date. It was magical. A girlfriend – named Hope – came to visit. I love her name. Hope. It is a reminder of an important value, statement, and commitment to life – to always have hope. I’m glad Hope is my friend – literally and symbolically.
We dressed up – me in a black lace full length dress; she in a beautiful maroon dress; her hair, soft; gentle curls. She looked beautiful. She told me I looked hot! I put on pearls and diamonds in honor of Prince — and sparkly high-heeled gold shoes.
We were having a grown up tea party, as she said.
We headed to our Valentine’s Day date, like giddy teenagers. Off to an adventure and what an adventure we had.
A menu, and more utensils than we could count;
We laughed! So many utensils on the table – Hope said, “Oh my goodness” which one to use when? ” Me: Girl, it don’t even matter! We laughed some more.
We decided we were going to capture every moment, every dish. We dutifully took pictures:
Our wine glasses simmering with an array and assortment of colors; our appetizer on the edge of the table:
ragoo…or … wagyu and gherkin..who knows…we couldn’t pronounce anything, and quail egg…we felt sophisticated!
When we could pronounce words, we didn’t know what they meant. We thought we knew what a shrub was, and then, this little thing came out.
We laughed so hard. Who knew this was a shrub? and then our salad, which seemed like it should have been the shrub — gorgeous and delicious…
When our main course came, we just started to eat, and only realized at the end, we hadn’t taken a picture. When the couple next to us got their food, I told her to take a sneak picture of their food. But Hope is bold.
She got up, spoke to them, shared that we forgot to take pictures of our food, and could we take a picture of theirs! I was laughing so hard! They dutifully agreed. She took her camera. Stood over their plates and got great pictures!
We commented on how each of them spent more time silently looking at their own phones than talking to each other. Not us.
More wine, more laughter, and the dessert….
And then, she boldly says, have you ever had whisky? I’m thinking, “girl, you do not know me.” Chile, I don’t drink no whisky! Well, she proclaims, today you will. And so off she goes to the bar to order two glasses of whisky, — Wild Turkey, 101 proof and Angel’s Envy 98 proof; one on the rocks and one straight. Love the names…!
She schools me on the art of whisky drinking; educates me on what a hot toddy is and does for your system and soul. And we drink our whisky. I like the way in feels on my lips, a little burn, mystical and magical. Everyone leaves the dining room. An old man on a date with another old man, comes up to our table. Stares me in the eyes and says, you are so beautiful. I blush, even though I’m black! Hope says, “I told her so, I told her so. Thank you for telling her.” I’m grateful for compliments. We do need to hear them, often. Finally, even the musician – -guitar player with a raspy country-sounding voice singing Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time — packs his bags.
Hope looks at me suspiciously – girl, you gonna drive? Me: Of course, I’m good. I’m grown. My house is down the street – 5 minutes away. Thank God, I live in Blacksburg! I stick to the 25 mile per hour speed limit, and we ease our way home.
We get home and Hope spies some Bahamian rum. Hey, girl, you ever have rum? Chile, please. Whatcha doin to me? She gets the rum – educates me on the difference between whisky and rum – some wheat/barley/sugarcane, distinction – and we get to hanging out with Ricardo.
We lay in front of the fireplace, in our dresses, on our backs, listening to music – some bluegrass stuff, some country stuff, some Etta James – At Last, and You Never Walk Alone, and my new favorite, Follow Your Arrow.
We reminisce on our friendship of 12 years; of working together; of tough loving of men; of marriage; of needing more love; of siblings; of children (she has 6, including a set of triplets), of losing our mothers; and of suicide – dark moments in our lives when we needed the madness to end.
We finish the bottle of rum, she stumbles upstairs to bed; I, in my dress, spend the night in front of the fireplace; warmed by its heat; comforted by the wine, whisky, and my beautiful Valentine.
Hope left me with hope; a belief in friendship; a belief in love; a confirmation that black women and white women can have authentic, abiding, amazing, and awesome friendships. She reminded me at one point that she didn’t speak for all White people, and they didn’t speak for her. I appreciated that. We have to recognize our common humanity; try to not stereotype; and see each gift of life for what it is.
Hope and I used to sneak away at our last job to a church on campus. I would go to the chapel and play piano. After her mother died, I invited her to join me one day. I played Amazing Grace. She cried and I cried.
The last song my mother ever sang, and the last words she spoke were from Amazing Grace, with her three best friends – two White women and one Black woman. They sang the last verse: When we’ve been here 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun; there are no less days to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.” At the end, Mama smiles, and in the softest whisper ever says, “God bless you, God bless you, all.” Those were her last words.
On Sunday morning, Hope and I struggled out of our delirious evening after glows! I make it to the piano. I play the Moonlight Sonata for Hope. She said it was my gift to her. She loves that piece.
And she sang, Amazing Grace.
It was our gift to ourselves. A reminder of grace in our lives, and the grace of the gift of a visit and time together to laugh and to love and to live. May we all have more whisky, wine, and Valentines.