This evening finds me writing a post. Strange indeed for a Friday. However, Jeff is working out some pent up adrenaline after a craptastic week at work with “Oblivion” on the new ‘puter. I’d rather he got his fight on now than have a heart attack in five years. Plus, the evening is otherwise good. The cats are happy. We have hot sake. The dog next door is quiet. (To the dog next door: I’m really sorry your owners are ignorant douchebags. Rest assured, I know it’s not your fault even if I did yell at you over the fence last night. Freedom can be yours. I’ve got your back.) I’ve also been riffing back and forth with Cleveland Michael on the topic of many things, one of which is variations on the classic virgin cocktail – the Shirley Temple.

My memory of this ridiculously delicious beverage centers around my maternal grandma and the Brown Derby. The Brown Derby – in Columbus, OH not Hollywood, CA – was one of her favorite haunts. I remember the cool, dark interior with gleaming brass and potted palms. I remember the coat room. I remember being terrifically bored and absolutely transfixed by the ritual of after dinner coffee and cigarettes. (“Just what is the allure of that?” young me wondered. Oh addiction, oh folly…how we’ve adopted the habits of our elders) My parents probably remember that I was a holy terror at restaurants. I too have vague recollections of this fact if for no other reason than my grandmother made every attempt to placate me and otherwise capture my attention lest it wander into mischief. Her tactic? Shirley Temples – Sprite, grenadine, maraschino cherries mixed in a high ball glass on the rocks. I loved them, but also remember not being allowed to drink as many as I wanted perhaps because sugar and difficult children are not a recipe for silence. At the time, I thought it was because I could get drunk, so convincing was this mocktail. Very sophisticated!

In the interim, I’ve found that most nice people also have an affectionate place in their hearts for Shirley Temples and talking about them becomes a moment of bonding. Jeff certainly does, but hasn’t shared the entire story except that his were of the avec grenadine kind and that he too loved them, what with his sweet tooth and all. Michael’s version deviates from what either of us have ever known and can be considered a dry Shirley Temple by cannonical cocktail nomenclature. It is here that the narrator silences herself and lets someone else speak.

“There was a bar at the corner of Charlotte & Merriman where I lived as a kid for a while. It was painted green outside, a tiny little place inside. I think it was called Charlotte’s. My mom would go there after work to hang with friends and kvetch about work with people from work. I had to come along because I was too young to be by myself, and it was too late in the evening and too cheap an era for the babysitter thing. So I would sit in a corner of the booth and draw or practice sign language or otherwise be alone in the crowd while the adults were carousing. There was a Space Invaders box over in the corner, and when I got to the point where I couldn’t stand doing what I was doing anymore, they would give me a quarter so I could go over there instead. It’s weird, the kind of contexts that get built around things. The thing I remember the most was that the young bartenders liked me and would make 7-Up in a martini glass for me with those little maraschino cherries in it to make it special.

No wonder I don’t like loud impersonal clubs.”

If you must imbibe on a more tawdry, adult level, I recommend the Surly Temple as crafted by the Surly Girl Saloon in Columbus. All you need is red pop, vodka and maraschino cherries. Mix proportionate to your tastes. It’s fantastic, although it does elicit a strong yearning for times more innocent. Being that as it may, don’t drink too many in public around strangers lest you get sloppy and start crying about your childhood.

Addendum: Jeff knows Shirley Temples from the Brown Derby in Michigan. Apparently, he went there as a kid too. Perhaps the Shirley Temple dolce is a house special.

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