What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Part 3

As I stood quietly waiting for my interview, the voice from within The Academy clarified. A nasally screed whirred through the crack in the door. “Now let’s get one thing straight. Americans do not like vermouth.” An academy . . . of mixology. “And if they hate vermouth, why then do Americans order Martinis? Because–and listen closely folks–you are all about to become little David Copperfields. The conjurer, not the waif. With vermouth as your magic wand, you will help people maintain the illusion that they are not simply drinking huge glasses of gin or vodka.” I leaned back against the wall and shut my eyes.

The coalition director had repeatedly put off my interview. Week after week I waited to meet with this estimable woman. Meanwhile, a quick look around the Bay Area made it clear that this thing–this non-profit, world-healing thing–had better work out. It was rough out there.

We’d had to outbid four other couples for our apartment. They’d come with rental resumes and letters of recommendation for their pets. Luckily, we had cash. Hatbox Louie had been refused an interview for a job in a used paperback bookstore which reeked of cat urine, and whose shelves sagged under the weight of tattered bodice-rippers. Her master’s degree did not make muster. Even the guy slinging coffee at Peet’s had a PhD. After six weeks of cancelled dates, I was granted an audience. When the day finally arrived, I pieced together a presentable outfit, and took the train into San Francisco.

“When someone orders a dry Martini, they want you to pour out the vermouth before the gin goes in.”
A squeaking door hinge jolted me out of my reverie, and I stood bolt upright as someone emanated from the global peace meeting. I prepared to see a young, earnest, progressive do-gooder. But no. This was an old man. A quite old man. A few minutes later, another old man. Not even spry. Nursing home old. Then a third. This couldn’t be. Action . . . global change.

“When they ask for a whisper of vermouth, they want you to pour them a huge glass of gin and whisper the word ‘vermouth’ over the top of their glass.”

A blue-haired beauty slipped out from the meeting. She was so unsure on her feet I almost dashed over to help her. Then another frail old woman.

“The biggest tip I ever got was from an orthodox bishop from Estonia who had me pour him an enormous glass of Stoli while staring at a bottle of vermouth.”
Another old man emerged from the meeting with a woman who, though solidly in her seventies, seemed a mere slip of a girl: the director.

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Published in: on November 27, 2006 at 10:10 am  Leave a Comment  

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