Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fancy Booze

Last weekend we went to lunch with James' uncle. Jo Jo told us he had some alcohol in his car that someone gave him - premium Chinese-style vodka.

You guys want it?


James and I hemmed and hawed. We don't like vodka much, but we're not far enough out of college to refuse free liquor.

How about this: If you like it, keep it. But if you don't like it, give it back to me.

Okay, okay, fine. Are you sure you don't want it?

I have to make too many decisions. No time for drinking.

We all laughed. Once back in Nankan, James and I took off with Jo Jo's liquor.

At first I figured Jo Jo's request to have it back if we didn't like it was one of the myriad examples of Chinese thrift. Waste not want not? But then we took it out of the its box and realized it was too expensive to pass off lightly: It would be unconscionable to let this stuff go unenjoyed - just look at the packaging (clay pots!).

That evening we each took a shot. I tipped my glass, swallowed, and immediately doubled over at the waist. My nose burned. I was rendered speechless by hacking coughs for almost half a minute. My chest felt warm. For a hot minute I thought I had the spins. We tried again the next night. Results were identical.

This is one of those rare, perhaps singular, moments where I wish I had some taste for, or at least knowledge of, spirits. I've drank enough vodka to know that this stuff was good. Plastic-bottled, corner-store, paint-peeling poison this was not. Yeah, it hurt to drink. But it was a different kind of pain.

We're giving it back.

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