The Epiphany of Good Whiskey
Whiskey looks almost as good as it tastes. Especially in a certain light, when the rays bounce through that amber fluid with just the right intensity at the perfect angle. It glows from within then, lights up with its own fluorescence that makes neon pale in comparison. Plain old bar light becomes the shit you see lining strip malls and used car lots along the main drag. It's the gruesome color of those glowing leisure suits of the seventies. Nothing special, nothing with any eye appeal. More crass than class, those sick colors.
"Gimme another," I tell the barkeep, pushing the empty forward on the bar top. It's old wood with a patina rubbed fine by the elbows--and probably faces--of a multitude. The bartender is a big, broad-shouldered fellow with a head full of curly black hair. He has a mug like a prizefighter.
"Stickin' with the Ambassador?" he asks, brandishing the bottle.
"For certain, and a triple at that," says I.
"No ice I suppose."
"Fuck ice, it melts," I say. "This whiskey is too good to dilute."
"You'd be surprised at how some people ruin good whiskey," he smiles. He tips the bottle and pours. "There are people who order Pepsi Cola in a single malt Scotch."
"You gotta be shitting me!"
"No, not at all. Or some stupid drink like Wild Turkey and cherry juice. Christ, I've see it all."
"I wouldn't mix them," I say. "I'd tell the assholes to go elsewhere."
"And you'd get your butt fired," he grins. "What do I care, they pay for it."
And then comes a moment of epiphany when it is clear for the first time in my life. What do I care, they pay for it. It dawns on me that the entire world operates on this principal; it might be the byword for contemporary capitalism. What does anybody care about anything so long as somebody pays for it?
It applies to everything: the cars and TVs and computers and radios built on the production lines; the education afforded our children in the schools and universities; the services we require to keep our world spinning around as smoothly as it will spin.
I turn to my left to see whose throaty voice said that and look into the most gorgeous brown eyes I've seen in some time. She's looking me full in the eye and grinning the kind of cocky grin that only a very attractive and confident woman can pull off.
"Hi yourself," I say, noticing the handbag on the floor by her feet then. It's rather large, which tells me she's probably a hooker. "Are you working or recreating?"
"Maybe a bit of both," she replies, her grin widening. She has pegged me for a guy who knows a working lady when he sees one.
She orders a glass of white wine. I push a twenty toward the barkeep to catch it, and motion back to my glass, which has lost its amber glow all of a sudden.
"What do you care, they pay for it, right?" I smile at her. She looks a bit puzzled.
"Hey, I'm not into anything too kinky," she answers, sipping the wine. "I mean, I can go along with light S & M and the anal thing, and I can give a golden shower, but there are some things I simply won't do for money."
"You mean you wouldn't do them if someone gave you a billion dollars?"
"I'd do anything for a billion dollars," she laughs. "You a billionaire by any chance?"
"Then I'm right, what do you care if they pay for it," says I. "It's predicated on the money available, not morals or what you care about. And no, I'm not a billionaire. Not even a millionaire, in fact."
"Well, if you put it that way and they have the money, then, well who cares?"
"I'm not a millionaire, but I do have a couple of spare C-notes on me. What can I get for that?"
She cuts her eyes at me and looks me up and down, then says, "More than you can handle, honey."
"Oh? Well, maybe yes and maybe no."
"You haven't had too much to drink, have you?"
"Would it matter if you got my money anyway?"
"Not in the least," she laughs. "Let's go, honey."
"One for the road," I say, waving my glass. He fills it to the brim and I toss a couple of twenties on the bar. I look at the beautiful brimming glass, spiked by the little laser of light shooting from the white bulb just above the cash register. It's too beautiful to disturb. I take her by the arm and turn to walk away.
"Hey man, you're not going to drink this?" the bartender calls after me. I turn around and shrug my shoulders.
"What do you care, I paid for it," says I.
I laugh out loud then and step out the door into the night with the beautiful, fragrant lady on my arm. In keeping with tradition, I'd already given her the two C-notes.