My love for Martinis developed sometime in the summer of 2008. It was a drink that Paul and I spoke about trying for a long time, but we needed Martini glasses and it took us quite a long time to find ones that we liked. (We ended up with very simple Ikea glasses.) Once we had all of the supplies, we took on the task of mastering the perfect drink. It took a while, and we dumped a fair bit of failed liquid down the drain, but eventually, we got there and developed our “RyanCentric” Martini.
A RyanCentric Martini is the perfect blend of vodka or gin with dry vermouth, a drop or two of bitters, and as many olives as you can fit on a cocktail pick. (Maybe a little bowl of olives on the side, because you should never drink on an empty stomach.) Oh, and a splash or two of olive brine, because I like it dirty… (giggle)
I used to love coming home after work and Paul would be there waiting to greet me. He seemed to know if I was having a hard day at the office because on those days he’d greet with a kiss and a hug – and a freshly-poured Martini. (Hugs and kisses happened regardless of the quality of my day.)
And every four weeks, when the results of my blood work would come in, he’d be ready with a Martini. If my platelet counts were high, we’d have a celebratory drink. If they were low, we’d commiserate with one of those deliciously salty drinks. (For those who wonder, my last counts were really really good. Tonight’s Martini is a belated celebration of that fact.)
We used to love being all “la-de-da” with our Martinis!
I remember sitting in the funeral home looking at urns a couple of days after Paul died. I knew I wanted something simple – and certainly not something etched and floraly and ugly (as most funereal things tend to be, apparently). The funeral director showed me a few options – one of which was a plain, silver, traditionally-shaped urn. As I held it in my hands, it dawned on me that it was shaped like a Martini mixer – right down to the top “lid” portion. I had to laugh. And for an ironic moment, I considered it. But in the end, I went with the simple boxes. Two of them: A black metal one for his burial in the states (it reminded me of a monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and a simple wooden one for his burial in England.
I don’t know that I will ever be able to drink another Martini with at least a passing thought of Paul. But you know what, it makes me smile to think of him. And you should always smile when drinking an extra-large, extra-olive, extra-dirty Martini. They taste better that way.
And when it comes to shaken or stirred, I prefer shaken.
Fictional President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet once said:
Shaken, not stirred, will get you cold water with a dash of gin and dry vermouth. The reason you stir it with a special spoon is so as not to chip the ice. James [Bond] is ordering a weak Martini and being snooty about it.
Snooty? Maybe. Pretentious? Probably. Smart? Definitely. In Bond’s case, he could enjoy an extra Martini or two and not be too tipsy for all his spy stuff. In my case, a slightly weaker Martini means I’ll have the steadiness of hand to mix more than one in an evening. (But only one on a school night!)