Posts Tagged "drinking"

The History of Toasts. It’s Not What You Think.

Dear Kid,

There’s a fun infographic making the social media rounds showing how to say “Cheers” in 20 different languages. You can see it here.

This of course raises the question as to why people say “cheers” in the first place. The obvious answer is so that a hit sitcom would have a name.

The history of toasts. It's not what you think. DearKidLoveMom.comBut—being the kind of mom I am—I decided to dig deeper. (And by “dig” I of course mean invent.)

Once upon a time, there were no toasts. When people wanted to drink, they picked up their cup (or gourd) and sipped.

Very original, independent types they were.

Then two brothers decided to go out for a drink.

An hour later they came home, bloody and bruised and generally in rough shape.

“What happened to you two?!” cried Momma who was crying more because she’d lost her evening of quiet than at the site of her damaged children.

“He started it!” the boys bellowed in unison. (You know what comes next, right?)

“And I’m going to end it!” Momma declared. “You,” she pointed, “sit there. And you,” again with the point, “there. Do. Not. Move.”

Momma was a many times descendant of Mrs. Joe Neanderthal and still had a great deal of her mothering mojo.

The boys sat. There was no question but that they’d sit until they were told (by Momma herself) that there was another alternative.

Momma then marched down to the corner pub the way a hurricane marches toward land. She went straight up to the bartender (who had the misfortune not to be descended from Mrs. J. N.), stared him straight in the eye with a look that simultaneously burned off his eyebrows and froze his innards (this was back in the day when everything you kept inside your skin was referred to as “innards”).

“What,” asked Momma in a voice that was not to be ignored, “happened?”

The bartender was a great devotee of the three big truths about bartending. 1. Wear comfortable shoes. 2. Keep the tips. 3. If you find yourself in a situation where you won’t be tipped, get out as politely as possible and go find more generous patrons.

The bartender’s shoes were tightening under Momma’s stare.

“The boys came in,” he said, starting with the obvious. The Look on Momma’s face suggested that she was not interested in the obvious or in the status of his footwear.

“They ordered a drink. I delivered the first one and went back to make the second. I guess one boy started drinking before the other and they started fighting.”

Momma leaned over the bar so that she was very close to the bartender. The bartender didn’t care for that but was smart enough not to object.

“Let me get this straight,” said Momma. “You were dumb enough not to serve them at the exact same time?”

The bartender squirmed. Momma glared. The bartender squirmed some more and wished that one of the other patrons would develop a need for a refill. All the patrons knew their refill orders would wait happily until Momma was done. The bartender, having found that squirming was all he could do, did it again.

Momma gave him one last glare that Said It All (none of which was printable), turned on her heel, and left.

On her way home, Momma thought. This was not in fact her strong suit. She was much better at glaring. But occasionally thought was required and this was one of those occasions.

When she got home, she found the boys just as she’d left them.

She was not surprised.

“Boys,” she said to them. “It was not your fault.”

While they boys each believed that, neither had expected to hear their mother say it.

“It’s the toast.”

This confused them. Momma went on.

“In this part of the world,” explained Momma, “the toast demands parity. The toast demands equality. The toast,” summarized Momma, “requires Words.”

Momma may have summarized, but the boys had no idea what she was talking about.

“When you go to have a drink,” Momma clarified, “you must raise your glasses at the same time and say ‘Toast’. Then the toast will be satisfied and you won’t feel the need to fight. But you must do it at the same time.”

This made about as much sense as the boys could hope for and they immediately went to the corner pub to practice.

Early toasts involved a lot of spilled beverage which is why the industry encouraged them.

It’s all about the industry.

And now you know.

Love, Mom

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Big Hats, Mint Juleps, Horses, and Roses (It’s Kentucky Derby Day)

Dear Kid,

If you thought today was just going to be Another Saturday you’d be Oh So Wrong.

Think horses, big hats, betting, and mint juleps, and yes, it is Kentucky Derby Day.

And if you thought Kentucky Derby Day means watching 2 minutes of horse racing, you’d be right—but only partially so.

If you’re a horse, you can’t just wake up one morning and decide you want to be a contender. You have to qualify by earning points in a series of 35 races. The top 20 point earners get to compete in The Derby and run for the roses (roses first appeared at the Kentucky Derby in 1896).

If you’re planning a Kentucky Derby Party (it’s a little late at this point, but it’s good advice for next year), be sure your venue has more than the traditional party allotment of square footage per person. This is because hats are a big thing on Derby Day. And by “big thing” I mean important to the event as well as brim size. Because Kentucky Derby Hats are BIG. Some are even bigger than the jockeys. All the jockeys put together. Side Note: Horses are not required to wear big hats.

For those heading down to Louisville for the races, there is a highly civilized schedule (and by “highly civilized” I mean mint juleps are available from 8am to 7pm).

This is how the official Kentucky Derby site says to make mint juleps. (Check your license for age appropriateness, please.)

  • Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon
  • Silver Julep Cups

Since the recipe takes 24+ hours, you’re out of luck if you didn’t start yesterday.

You can go out to the infield to see what’s happening inside the track (anytime today), you can watch the Military Armed Forces swearing in ceremony (2:15), or you could go crazy and watch one of the 13 horse races that will be running.

Events run all day, but things get serious around 5pm when Josh Groban sings the National Anthem. Following this seriousness, the Derby is trying to set a Guiness World Record by having “The World’s Largest Champagne Toast”. Not sure how that relates, but what the heck.

Then the horses parade out (it’s now probably about 5:55) to lots of commentary and last minute betting. At 6:15 comes the Rider’s Up call.

At 6:20pm, everyone becomes instantly sober for the most important moment of the day—the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home.” Did you notice how much closer to race time this song is compared to the Anthem? There is room for much commentary here, but I’m skipping all that today.

And at 6:34, the race begins.

Happy Kentucky Derby Day,

Love, Mom


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Learning in General and Don’t Drink and Drive

Dear Kid,

You’d think we (and by “we” I mean human beings in general) would learn.

Well, you might think that.

And to a small extent you’d be correct. Hopefully, you are learning a great deal (see my thoughts on college students studying if you’re not clear about what I’m implying).

But as a species, we really aren’t that bright.

We’re smarter than most mud, but only barely as the Darwin Awards so beautifully illustrate every year.

Evolution is slow. Cars are fast. It’s not necessarily a good combination.

September 10, 1897, a London taxi driver with the generic sounding name George Smith was drinking. My Friend The Internet (in the one article I so thoroughly researched) did not specify what he was drinking, so I’ll assume he stopped by the pub for a quick pint with his buddies. As so often happens, one thing led to another, in this case “one thing” being a pint and “another” being another pint (or 12).

George then thought it would be a brilliant idea to drive off. In point of fact, he did drive off—right off the road and into a building. This marked the first time someone was arrested for drunk driving.

It did not mark the last.

The first device to measure drunken-ness was Mrs. P.J. Zonker of Roanoke, Virginia. Mrs. Zonker could tell at 1,000 paces if Mr. P.J. Zonker had even been thinking about drinking. Mrs. P.J. Zonker came from a long line of women who were able to identify a whole raft of impure thoughts and breaths. But since Mrs. P.J. was the first to write about it in her diary, she’s the one who gets the credit.

Car and Tree trying to occupy the same space. No one wins. Don't drink and drive. DearKidLoveMom.comSome amount of time later (and by “some amount of time” I mean in 1936), Dr. Rolla Harger invented the Drunkometer (I kid you not) which was the forerunner of the Breathalyzer (which Harger later co-invented). The way a Breathalyzer works is by measuring the alcohol vapors in a person’s breath which is an indication of the amount of alcohol in their blood. Too much alcohol and the Breathalyzer bings! Once it bings! a series of events occurs starting with handcuffs and ending with jail time, a suspended license, and the insurance companies rubbing their GLPs (greedy little paws) together in glee. This is NOTHING compared to what your parents will do.

Do not drink and drive. Do not drink and even think of driving. Do not breathe and think of getting in a car with a driver who has been drinking anything stronger than apple juice.

Love, Mom

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Cucumber Coolness | What You Don’t Know About Cucumbers

Cucumbers--solving most of the world's problems DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid,

Do you know where the phrase “cool as a cucumber” came from? Neither did I but I decided to find out.

My first stop was our garden. After crawling through the sunflowers (that’s another story), I found the cucumbers. The cucumbers weren’t nearly as warm as I’d expected (the sunflowers provide a LOT of shade), but they weren’t exactly icy (the 90 degree heat may have had something to do with it).

“What makes you guys so cool?” I asked. One cucumber pushed back his sunglasses, but overall they said nothing. I turned to the sunflowers. “Are cucumbers really the coolest vegetable in the garden?” The sunflowers gave me a look that said “Duh. Not even The Fonz is that cool.”

According to My Friend the Internet, “cool as a cucumber” refers to cucumbers’ ability to cool the temperature of the blood. Also, when you put slices of cucumber on your eyes, the cukes really do cool the blood (and lessen swelling). Very cool.

What’s even cooler is that if you have stinky breath, you can take a slice of cucumber, press it to the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds (hold it there with your tongue), and voila! lovely breath. Seriously cool.

On the warmer side of cool, if you’re stressed (what? A college kid stressed out? Say it isn’t so) the steam released from boiling cucumbers in water creates a soothing aroma.

Need some energy? Forget the energy drinks (seriously, for-get the energy drinks—they are seriously bad for you). Cucumbers are loaded with vitamin B, carbs, and fairy dust—the perfect energy source.

Not that a college student would ever drink too much, but on the off chance that you ever meet a college student who imbibes a bit too much, hand him a cuke or two. Cucumbers contain sugars, the aforementioned B vits, electrolytes, and fairy dust all of which replenish all the parts of your body that had to move aside when the beer came in. Much better than waking up with a royal hangover.

Best of all, cucumbers are delicious!

Stay cool, baby.

Love, Mom

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