I visited my folks out in Kentucky for my very short winter holiday. It wasn’t very eventful; it’s fucking Kentucky. I just remember there was a lot of horses and bourbon.
I spoke with my father a good amount. That man sits on a mountain of wisdom and he dropped a shit ton at my feet, but we’ll get to that bit in a moment.
Since we were out in bourbon country, my parents took me to the Jim Beam distillery for a tour. We bought our tickets and perused the gift shop before the tour began. They had a plate of bourbon chocolate balls out for sampling. I popped one in my mouth and the smell of American whiskey immediately assaulted my nostrils. It was like taking a shot of straight Jim Beam white label. I liked it… and was slightly buzzed when I went aboard the Jim Beam tour bus. My mom kept asking why I was radiating heat (I usually run cold). I guess I should mention I get Asian flush like no other.
While I was on the bus I took a particular notice to the tour guide, Pete. He looked like a slightly older version of Michael. Doe eyes, brown hair with a coppery beard, and a smile that I was very smitten with. He was also funny and walked with a very similar, if not identical, gait as Michael. No fucking way. The only differences I could point out were the extra wrinkles in the corner of those eyes… and a sick Kentucky accent.
Anyhow, I learned how the master distillers made bourbon, from the grain all the way to the packaging process. It was like watching an episode of “How It’s Made” only I was afforded the opportunity to taste EVERYTHING. Towards the end of the tour, in the packaging plant, Pete told us we could buy a bottle of what the distillery was bottling that day: Knob Creek 120 proof.
Over by the conveyor belts, you can put a sticker with your initials on the shoulder of the bottle, and once it gets to the waxing station you can either put your thumbprint into the wax or, for you couples, you can put your pinkyprints on there. Or if you want to do a pinkyprint with a handsome tour guide, you can do that too.
You bet your fucking ass I got a pinkyprint bottle of booze with Pete.
Next was the tasting room. Everybody was given a snifter and an electronic card key that would make a machine dispense a shot. I bet that’s the happiest place in Clermont, Kentucky. Pete said it is.
Before everyone started to go hard on the booze, Pete gave a run down of the different kinds of bourbons available. I liked his description of Booker’s the most:
If you take a couple sips of this one, you’ll notice how funny and charming you think you are. Also, if you take a few sips of any of these, you may feel a warmth in your chest. This is what we call a “Kentucky hug.” If that hug tries to get to second or third base with you, take a sip of water. Don’t be a hero.
My folks and I went home for a late lunch. Pops and I had sammiches. While eating, I kept glancing at my pinkyprinted bottle of Knob Creek.
Me: I got wrecked today…
Pops: You didn’t even drink as much as you usually do.
Me: Emotionally. I got wrecked emotionally. Pete looked and acted so much like Micheal. It was hard.
Pops: …I guess I should be happy this happened at the age of 25 instead of 16 like most normal girls because that would be scarring…. But I suppose whatever can scar you at 16 can get you at 25. I’m surprised you’re just now talking about this with your old man; I thought it wasn’t a big deal. Guess I was wrong.
My father talked to me about Michael quite a bit after I bared a bit of my pain. He asked what his reasons for leaving were. He said he had to figure out what he wanted out of life. Pops said Michael was wise in that regard.
He asked if I knew Michael was dating someone now. I dunno. We don’t talk. He could be dead for all I know.
He asked me if I’d give it another shot with Michael back if he ever called and expressed an interest in a round two. …N-Ye-… absofuckinglutely, Pops.
And then he let me talk about the little things I missed about Michael. How well he cooks. All of his musical and cinematic references. His weird but cute pencil collection. I spared my father the details of my salacious activities with Michael. For instance, when I told Pops about the time Michael sang “A Whole New World,” I left out the detail of our being naked and massaging each other. My dad sure as shit doesn’t need to hear about that tomfoolery.
Jessica, you know as well as I do that when you have a relationship of some sort that included intimacy, it doesn’t really end. If you’re like your old man, which you are, you’ll carry that ache with you forever.
I’m not sure if I find his last statement more romantic or horrifying.
While I was packing for my return trip my father picked up the Knob Creek and looked at the fingerprints in the wax.
You know what, Jecca? You got a pinkyprint bottle with Pete. BECAUSE FUCK MICHAEL. *mumbles*…son of a bitch fucking around with my daughter.
I had wondered if my heartbreak bothered, Pops. I don’t have to be a soothsayer to know that answer.