When I was a kid we used to go to our Aunt Irene’s for Christmas Eve.
Aunt Irene was my Grandpa Bert’s sister and she was great- she dressed like a lady from the magazines ( she always wore a single strand of pearls when she dressed up ) she was a fantastic gourmet cook, she and my Grandpa taught me to love Mozart and her house was full of the most beautiful antiques.
But what I really loved was sitting her in kitchen and watching her cook in her fancy clothes and heels and an apron just like the women on TV did- actually she is the ONLY person I know that ever looked like that when she worked in the kitchen.
One of my Aunt Irene’s specialties were her Bourbon Balls- one year I asked if I could try one and she let me. I took a bite chewed it and swallowed.
“What do you think.” she said…note she did not ask.
” I think it tastes like Cat Pee.”
My Aunt didn’t ask me how I came to make that particular comparison.
” Good. Don’t forgot that- ever.”
I didn’t to this day and to this day I still think of Bourbon as Cat Pee.
So shortly after that, I could not figure out why the adults in my family would practically shove each other down the stairs to get to the little table with the silver tray piled high with those little balls coated with powdered sugar.
One year we got to Aunt Irene’s early and she was in the middle of making her Bourbon Balls and I asked if the cat was done could I play with it and she laughed and my Grandpa Bert asked what was so funny and Aunt Irene told him never mind.
The door bell rang- well chimed and she went to answer the door and when she was out of the kitchen my Grandpa poured the bottled cat pee into the bowl.
” Why are you doing that?” I asked wondering why you add more of that foul stuff to anything.
“Because she’s my sister and I can. ”
He then took a drink straight from the bottle, put the lid back on and left the kitchen with a little bounce to his step.
Almost right after he left the room my Aunt Sharon showed up with a couple of her cousins and one of them asked me, ” Have you seen Mother?”
I told them no.
” Good. “
Aunt Sharon took the bottle and- I couldn’t watch- she poured more of that foul stuff into the bowl and they all took a drink and one of them reminded me nobody liked a snitch and I pointed out that I was no snitch and if anyone asked- I drank the stuff from the bottle.
” No. Don’t say that.”
” It’s okay. I don’t mind.”
” She’s going to say it you know. She’s going to go out there and tell everyone we let her drink Bourbon. You know what she’s like.”
” Yeah. That’s what I’ll say.”
” What are you going to say. ” My Aunt Irene asked as my Aunt and her cousins hot footed it out of the kitchen.
” Oh Nothing.”
Aunt Irene finished making her candy, she piled it on the tray and took it out to the living room and I watched as my Dad, his cousins and my Grandparents swarmed the table- and started to wolf down the candy.
I decided that those candies could not be as awful as I remembered them- after all look how everyone was loving them.
So, I grabbed one and ate it and having no place to spit it out kept chewing until it was all gone.
I followed my Aunt back to the kitchen and she looked at the bourbon bottle curiously.
“ Oh heavens, I didn’t use that much did I?” she asked. ” Anita did you see anybody dri-”
That’s when I hiccupped and the smell of bourbon flooded the room.