I was busy mixing up martinis and manhattans like they were going out of style. I don’t think they are, and they probably won’t be, seeing how they are both easy to prepare and delicious. Maybe that is why they have been around for over 100 years. But I’m just guessing.
The two gentlemen that appeared before me probably didn’t know that, and probably didn’t care. We are not in the educational business, we are in the service business, and in that business, belief trumps knowledge every time.
Don’t believe me? Look at the big ice cube rage. There is much much discussion on the shape of ice cubes, but almost none on what that ice is made from. Odd, since that is the most important thing about the ice. Crushed ice, large ice, hand chipped ice, won’t matter one wit, if that ice is made from water that doesn’t taste very good.
“Two manhattans, with large cubes, if you’ve got them,” said the younger of the two men.
His bushy beard, flannel shirt and stocking cap would probably identify him as lumberjack in most places, except for around here. I figured Inner Sunset, Outer Richmond, or the Haight, where most trees have long since been lumberjacked down. The food implement tattoo on his forearm certainly secured that thought.
And in the world of belief, there is a belief, that everyone believes the same as you. Standing in line at Starbucks doesn’t make you a rugged individualist, it makes you the same as everyone else in that line. And no number of modifiers on your coffee is going to change that.
“What kind of whiskey would you like?” I asked bursting a bubble of belief.
“Do you have Whistle Pig 10?” asked the inner-city lumberjack.
“No,” said his friend. “Can you make mine with Seagram’s VO?”
His friend was closer to my age. A divot in his nose indicated a long-ago abandoned nose ring, and I detected an armband tattoo dancing about the end of the hem on his short-sleeved shirt. Experience certainly leaves its marks.
“You’re kidding,” replied the lumberjack.
“I like VO,” said Mr. Nose Divot. “And it’s much cheaper.”
“Blended Canadian whiskey?” the lumberjack asked outraged. “You are so out of touch, it’s ridiculous. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be seen with you.”
In my business it is don’t ask, don’t tell. If someone asks me a question about a product, I will happily provide an answer, but I don’t go out of my way to correct or interject unless such an intrusion is asked for. Chalk that up to 30 years of experience. And a few scars along the way.
“Tell him that is ridiculous,” said the lumberjack to me, assuming, as all that believe do, that everyone believes the same thing as them.
“Tell him what?” I asked.
“About blended whiskey.”
So, I did.
“By law, blended whiskey is a mixture which contains straight whiskey or a blend of straight whiskeys at not less than 20 percent. It can have coloring, flavoring or blending materials added.
Furthermore, a blend of straight whiskies usually consists entirely of one of the types of straight whiskey (usually bourbon or rye) but itself does not conform to the standard for straight whiskey.”
“See?” said the lumberjack.
“Does that mean it’s better?” asked his friend.
“Better is subjective,” I replied.
“See?” he said to the lumberjack.
“This straight whiskey is better quality, than that,” he said pointing at his friend’s drink. “Right?”
“Uh,” I said. “Who is paying for this?” I asked.
“I am,” said the older man.
“In that case,” I paused before continuing. “Both of those whiskeys are blended whiskeys and both of them are from Canada.”
“That is impossible,” replied the lumberjack
I showed him the back of the Whistle Pig 10-year old rye bottle that we carried. “A blend of straight rye whiskeys… Imported from Canada.”
His friend stood there beaming.
“Well I guess that settles that,” he said.
“You guys don’t know what you are talking about,” replied the lumberjack.
Leaving me with these thoughts:
-Illusions are caused by outside factors, delusions come from within.
-“Straight whiskey” cannot have “harmless” colorings, flavorings or blending materials added, “a blend of straight whiskeys” can.
-Life is too short to have anything but delusional notions about yourself,” once posited Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS.
-“No one who still shares a delusion will ever recognize it as such,” countered Sigmund Freud.
-When people are emotionally invested in their own personal myth, the facts often just get in the way.
-In hindsight, I think those two were a romantic couple. Just saying.