My dad would have turned 75 tomorrow. This is an edited post I wrote for my “50 for 50” blog a couple of years ago. I might have to have one tonight.
Smells are an interesting thing aren’t they? I am constantly surprised by how the scent of something can conjure memories of people and experiences that had been long forgotten. The scent of a fresh Christmas tree being decorated in the living room and the smell of a box of candy hearts when you open it on Valentine’s Day are two of my favorites. I love those moments. My favorite smell of all time is the scent created when you mix bourbon and Seven-Up over ice. Bourbon and seven was my dad’s drink. Every time I happen to smell one, he jumps right into my head.
As a kid who grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s my experience was not uncommon. Every night, my dad would come home and fix himself a drink. Bourbon and seven was usually that drink. (My mom would have a Screwdriver). I don’t remember him ever having more than one, but he did have that ONE every night. At some point in junior high I became old enough to make his drink for him. He asked me to make one, but never showed me how. (He was like that.) As a result, I’m sure my creations were often much stronger than what he was used to. Maybe he liked that? This practice of a nightly drink ended for my dad, sometime around 1980. I’m sure it wasn’t a conscious decision to stop. It just seemed to fade away as something dads did when they got home. Maybe it was Ronald Reagan’s fault or the death of John Lennon? I doubt it though. My dad never gave more of a passing thought to either of them. I guess, it just went out of fashion like the large lapels on his sport coats.
I have never been much of a drinker of hard liquor. Whenever the situation presented itself for me to order a drink I have never ventured far beyond my dad’s tried and true. A few times while playing slots at a casino a waitress dressed in shiny gold would ask me what I wanted. It was free, so I had to ask for something and a bourbon and seven is all I really knew to ask for. Every time she returned with the glass and handed to me, I was shocked by the smell. How good it was. How pleasurable it was. It tasted good too, but it wasn’t the taste that floored me. It was the smell. It made me feel good. It made me think of people I loved and memories long lost. It made me think of my dad. It was nice.
In a sense, this “50 for 50” list is forcing me to do the same thing. It’s forcing me to think a lot about the past. My father certainly, but others as well- childhood friends, family members who are long since gone. Like the smell of a bourbon and seven, it’s been nice. I have been told many times that I tend to live my life too much in my head. This is true. It’s always been true. It’s caused some difficulty from time to time, but I have never apologized for it. I can’t help it. It’s just who I am and I like it that way. One advantage of being stuck in my head so much is I get to hang on to these thoughts and memories for a long time. I get to ponder them, play with them and enjoy them. How can that be a bad thing?