Who knew, when I did her some trivial favor, that Aunt Emma would say thank you with some peculiar gift? Well, yes, I should have known. She always

does that.


When my tee-total maiden aunt gives a gift of liquor, she's a price tag connoisseur; the higher the price, the better it must be, she reasons. Hence the

most expensive bottle of vodka I've ever seen (you too, I'll bet).


After a day of excruciating ennui, I was ready to explore Emma's "Old Full Sail Vodka" (honesty required me to read that as "Old Fool Sale Vodka"). The picture on the label was a full-rigged sailing ship heading into a horizon glowing with golden and rosy colors. Sunset, no doubt. Not sunrise. Vodka ends your day, one way or another.


It's normally an unpretentious drink, but this bottle came with literature. One packet contained cocktail recipes and two small envelopes of pills. Another packet contained an invitation to enter their contest for the most eloquent testimonial to any of their recipes.


Sly Aunt Emma ! She knows that this writer must enter that contest. She calls it ego; I call it justified confidence in my skills. Worse, she's foisted this thing off on me, savoring the day when she will ask me if I won. What a nefarious way to drive a nephew to drink ! Perhaps only a boozer could win; hence the winner had to be a loser !


I poured a small glass of the stuff, just to pass the time while I read the recipes. Add one of their green "JB" pills to this vodka and it became gin (JB for juniper berries, perhaps ?). Add one of their brown "M" pills and the stuff became rum (M for molasses, perhaps ?). Then one followed a traditional recipe for vodka, gin, or rum.


My glass had gone empty. I poured a second glass and added a JB pill. It just sat on the bottom. Alone and lacking a swizzle stick, I mashed and stirred the pill with an index finger. It tasted rather like gin (the finger as well as the drink).


Suddenly, the glass was empty again. I poured a third drink and added one of those nice brown M pills, giving my other index finger its fair turn at mashing and stirring (I'm ambidextrous, but couldn't think of that word just then). It did rather taste like rum (the finger as well as the drink).


Suddenly, it seemed as if my head had blown off and was floating around the ceiling. Not good. Felt a need to do something about that.


Connoisseurs know that a long, brisk walk can help. The walk should include no highway crossings. Highway crossings are bad. Screeching brakes, blaring horns, cars up on the sidewalk, cursing drivers, and such. Damned drivers needed arresting for disturbing the peace. Police took the easy way and arrested me for jaywalking !


Thank you very much, Aunt Emma !