Cocktail Chatter - 1 Part October, 4 Parts American Musical Theater

The late-summer doldrums had set in, and it was only 10 o�clock on Saturday morning. Robbie was entirely red from head to toe � hair, face, neck, chest hair (and the skin underneath), legs and feet. Ever arrogant, he�d accented his sunburn by wearing a pair of bright orange gym trunks with the word �PRIDE!� spelled out in crimson letters. He was sprawled on a shaded deck chaise drinking iced coffee in misery. Kyle was on the couch inside, not as red, but just as unhappy. The puppies had had a bitter fight a half-hour earlier about some issue involving one of the bartenders in town, and their yapping was so painful that the rest of us left the room. I skittered around the deck drenching our tired, baked container flowers in MiracleGro in the futile hope of making them look like they did in June. Dan, of course, was upstairs in our room all morning reading neuroscience journals, avoiding the whole bad scene.
We all went to the beach at noon, as usual, but were back home by 1:30 � the sun was too relentless, the sand too hostile. The puppies hadn�t kissed and made up yet, but they were in the same room, which was a positive sign. The house had the faint, funky aroma of, well, six overheated men in a funk.
Dan, Kyle, Robbie and I arranged ourselves around the living room trying to pretend that the moving air from our single rotating fan was enough. (Note to self: Why were we so cheap that we hadn�t bought a second one?). Craig couldn�t stand sitting still and had lumbered into the kitchen. He was going through the liquor cabinet, hoping to find some sort of hidden treasure. I hoped he�d find it, since I was at a total loss as to what to make for �le cocktail du weekend.� My imagination was fried.
Because of a regrettable scene two weeks earlier, we�d been forced to label our own bottles as though this was a boarding house. No more share and share alike. Craig, the showman, seized on that uncomfortable fact and ran with it. �Hmmm,� he began in his vaudevillian, let-the-comedy-begin voice. �Here�s Ed�s Absolut! See? It says �E-d� on it. �Ed!�� He waved the bottle in the air and set it down. �And here�s Dan�s Pernod. �D-a-n.� And Joe�s Beefeater, and Kyle�s Kahlua. �K-i-l-e.�� He paused for dramatic emphasis. �But�.� Then, in a pitch-perfectly hoarse imitation of a certain actress-chanteuse, he sang out, �It�s everybody�s RYE! RYE! RYE! RYE! RYYYYYYE!�
Dan and I dissolved in laughter. The puppies were mystified. �Who�s he doing?� Kyle asked Robbie. �I have no idea,� Robbie answered.
"Elaine�� I began but couldn�t stop laughing. �Stritch!� Dan managed to get out. �In (gasp) Company!� The puppies both still looked blank.
�I�ve got it!� I shouted. �Le Cocktail du Weekend!�
�What do you make with rye?� Dan asked through his tears of mirth.
�No! No! Vodka Stingers!� This cracked Dan up all over again, leaving the puppies more baffled than ever.
�It�s from a song by Stephen Sondheim,� I said in the insufferable professorial voice I can never shake, having been a college professor. �­�The Ladies Who Lunch.� We have it on our iPods. We�ll play it later. I have to go to the liquor store right now!� And with that, I put on my oversized, fat-camouflaging plaid shirt and headed for the harbor.

The Vodka Stinger (Classic Version)
1 part Absolut
1 part white creme de menthe (Do not under any circumstances use the green variety; show some respect for the classics, kids.)
An Updated Vodka Stinger
(my own less candy-like variation)

4 parts Absolut
1 part white creme de menthe
Ice. Cocktail shaker. Old-fashioned glasses, martini glasses, or even brandy glasses � just give it some style.

Ed Sikov is the author of Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis and other books about films and filmmakers.

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