Sunday, April 29, 2007

Under Pressure

My sister-in-law had a surprise 40th birthday party for her husband David at a large local hotel last night. She asked everyone to bring food, so that afternoon my wife went out to buy the components of her popular bean dip and a birthday card to go with the gift I had bought the day before.

When she got back, she began making her dip, and then, 15 minutes before we had to leave for the party, she realized she had forgotten the card.

“Quick!” she said, “Make something on the computer!”

My mind began to race with the urgency of the situation. David is a fan of Star Trek, and Star Trek began in the 60’s, so maybe they’re about the same age. Sure enough, Star Trek is exactly 40 years old, the same as David. I quickly found an image on the Internet of Captain Kirk and Spock, labeled “Celebrating 40 Years.” I grabbed a picture of David we had taken at the beach, stuck his face over William Shatner’s, printed it out, and we raced out the door. My wife signed it for us, folded it up, put it into an envelope, and taped it to the gift as we drove to the hotel.

The original:

The beach photo:

The finished goods:

My sister-in-law had managed to obtain a free weekend in the Penthouse Suite, and she lured David away to dinner, leaving their children behind to greet the guests.

Everyone brought food or alcohol, so there was a lot of mad scrambling to prepare the decorations and arrange the buffet. Children were assigned to watch the parking lot from the high vantage point, instructed to alert us when the birthday boy arrived.

I wandered around, helping with various tasks, such as loading up a table with platters of sandwich meat, chicken wings, chips and dips, crudités, and of course a large cake. No sooner had we finished, when a woman walked up and asked if we could move everything so that she could put an “Over the Hill” tablecloth on the table. She’ll make a lovely ex-wife someday.

After that, I felt the need for a drink, so I sauntered over to the beer coolers. The first one contained Bud Light, so I closed it quickly. I grew up in St. Louis, where Budweiser products are made, but I’ve always considered them to be mass-produced swill. Light beers are tasteless, making Bud Light the worst of the worst.

Opening the next cooler, I was dismayed to discover that it also contained Bud Light. The story was the same for the last cooler. It was like some horrible conspiracy. In desperation, I strode across the room to the wet bar, where I could see a collection of bottles and mixers. I don’t normally drink mixed drinks, but I was facing a long evening in a hotel room with a bunch of people I didn’t know, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

When I got to the wet bar, I discovered the following assortment of soft drinks: 2-liter bottles of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, regular Coke, Orange soda and Hawaiian Punch. Behind them were a bottle of Jim Beam whiskey, Southern Comfort (a sweet liqueur made from whiskey), and Grey Goose vodka. There is no conventional drink you can make from those components. It was a bartender’s nightmare.

I decided to mix Grey Goose into a cup of Hawaiian Punch. Grey Goose is considered one of the finest vodkas on the market. A liter bottle sells for around $35.00. Pouring it into Hawaiian Punch is probably a criminal act.

However, the combination wasn’t bad at all. I had two of them, and found myself wishing I had stopped at one. I decided to name the drink the Hawaiian Sucker Punch.

We were all shushed into silence, and the birthday boy arrived. He was suitably shocked and pleased. Later, when he opened the gifts, he was delighted by the Star Trek card I had made, and asked if I could print out another one “not folded up” so they could have it framed. It’s not my best work, but it seems that working under pressure does force creative solutions to bubble to the surface.


burton said...

I commend you for your ability to not only work under pressure in creating the card - but also in working under pressure creating a nice alcoholic concoction that aided you in getting through the night.

burton said...

You are like the MacGyver of bartenders!

Tim Clark said...

I think MacGyver could have done better than that simple mix. He probably would have gotten more creative and added some of the orange soda and a dash of Southern Comfort and called it something cool and dramatic. Hmmm that sounds good actually.

burton said...

I disagree. The less ingredients, the more effective the MacGyverism. Speaking of MacGyverisms...for your enjoyment: