Despite all these conflicts in his mind, and probably because he doesn't really have a choice when he's at my place, my pa-in-law has gradually started accepting this drinking aberration in me. Almost forgiven, after all these years. He quietly sits with his whiskey and watches me turn my drink into a sherbet. He can't help let out snorts from time to time, snorts of utter disdain at my absolute lack of drinking taste. But the snorts aren't audible perhaps burdened by the knowledge that I put up with his daughter in the first place.
"Hrrmmph...brave guy, after all. Hrrmmmph."
Tonight was one such night. He misses the husband of his second daughter, a man with impeccable taste in Scotch and Bourbon alike, a man who can really be called a man at last. Armed with the knowledge that his second daughter made the right choice and resigned to the fact that fifty percent success is not a bad score in life's intricate math after all, he appears mostly happy these days. Happy with his sudoku, crossword, and his grandson, who is showing all the right signs of growing up to be a whiskey drinker.
This happiness lasted many years, seven to be precise, when suddenly it was dealt another blow. The whiskey drinker son-in-law decided to move to London and move he did. And how. Every day over the internet voice chat wafts out stories of how the whiskey-drinker son-in-law is enjoying the various beautiful things the Scots have manufactured, packed in glass bottles of various shapes and sizes. He sounds so near over Skype, you can almost smell it all in the room. And that smell in your mind stirs memories. And memories can make you touched in the head at times.
So tonight. Yes, let me come to tonight finally. Tonight as I was frying a newly discovered fish in the kitchen and the atmosphere was thick with the smoke and smell of heavenly dinner, he let out one fairly audible snort. "Hrrmm...smells good...what's the point in having fish fry if not with something?" Before his words could fully come out, the whiskey and vodka bottles were out along with two glasses at speed that would have been jaw-dropping for Speedy Gonzales himself. Onions were finely chopped, the steaming fish (crisp and freshly fried) brought to the table, the rich sound of pouring liquid filled our senses, and the lights were dimmed. I could think of only "smooth" to describe the entire ambiance when suddenly there was a jarring note. My bad:
"Lemme mix some sugar in this."
But over the years his hrrmmphs have mellowed, have softened, have almost acquired this warm and caring tone. All the hrrmmmphs that followed tonight were of the same nature:
"So I will buy a Harley this year."
"I want sex. The new SX-4 diesel."
"Kids should be spanked by default every morning and evening."
"Am divorcing your daughter."
"Am pouring sugar into my vodka."
"Sugar? Ha ha. Pour me another one, wilya?"