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20160225_185122-1Who doesn’t always appreciate the opportunity to give his or her six-year-old daughter a hug before leaving the house?

Me, that’s who.

Shocked? Well, you shouldn’t be. And before you go slapping me with the label “Terrible Parent,” you need to know why.

My six-year-old is a brilliantly conspiring trickster.

I live in a wonderfully loving home. Every time I leave, and it matters not whether it is a trip around the corner to the hardware store or a week in Washington D.C., all of the kids line up to give me a hug goodbye. I absolutely love it. And I revel in it knowing that one day it will come to an end, at least in its current frame.

But then there’s Evelyn, our six-year-old, the one I sometimes refer to as “Malevelyn” – endearingly, of course. Yes, she loves hugs from her Daddy, but she also has other, more sinister intentions.

I can always count on her to be the first one to come running, arms opened wide and calling, “Hug! Hug!” She’ll give a tight hug, a quick peck on the cheek, and then she’s off again to do whatever she was doing before – at least that’s what she wants you to think.

The other kids line up for the same, but once I’m out the door, they disperse. But not Evelyn. Oh no. She lurks around the corner waiting. And then not long after the front door closes, she runs back through the house yelling, “Another hug! Another hug!” Of course, what is a loving father to do except turn right back around and give her another hug? It wasn’t until recently that it finally clicked. I finally figured out that all along she’s been orchestrating her own little game, and we, the parents, are the pawns. She gives the first hug and then waits to pull the trigger for a second only after seeing how far she can let us progress in our efforts to depart before we come back and do it again. She doesn’t really want that second hug. She just wants to discover the extent of the strings that make her puppets dance.

Personally, I’ve gotten as far as backing out of the driveway, shifting into drive and seeing her in my rearview mirror yelling through the front door window and then opening the door and making a tearful scene for the neighbors. And so what did I do? I made a loop around the block and came back for another hug.

Dirty little guilt shoveler.

Jen is much tougher in this department than I. Only a few days ago, she announced she was going to make a quick trip to the store and that she would be returning shortly. The announcement initiated the hug ceremony. But as Jen was nearly in the car, the driver door still open, Evelyn came running around the kitchen corner shouting, “Another hug!”

Jen heard the screeching, but she didn’t flinch.

Desperate to win the match, Evelyn opened the front door and screamed, “Momma! Momma! Another hug! Another hug!”

“Get inside and shut the door!” Jen called out pointing at the little manipulator through the windshield. “I already gave you hug.” And then she got into the van and drove away. Evelyn waited a minute to see if she would loop around the block and come back. But she didn’t.

Evelyn was in shock. I was in awe. Momma was the winner.

It didn’t take long for Evelyn’s astonishment to turn toward the realization of defeat. She closed the door as instructed. Knowing that I was watching the whole episode, she leaned on the door, head against her forearm, and let out a sigh. And then to heighten the drama, she lurched a bit and did what I can only describe as sort of a zombie walk over to the piano only a few paces from the front door. She plopped down on the bench and plunked a few keys until she found just the right notes – in minor key, of course.

“No one wants to hug me,” she began to sing and play. “Not even my Momma…”

The dirge continued for a minute or two. It finally ended when I poured myself a dram of the Bulleit Small Batch Rye, sat back down, took a quick sip, and interjected, “That’s a great song, Evelyn. You should perform that at the next church talent show. I’ll bet you’d win.”

She turned to give a menacing look, got up, and zombied upstairs.

“Bye honey,” I said. “I love you.” I think she mumbled that she loved me, too. I don’t know. Maybe not.

Either way, I was well into considering the whiskey in my hand.

This particular edition was recommended to me by a Twitter friend who was rather insistent that I try it. I’m glad that I did.

The nose of this little gem is one of toasted rye bread swathed in sweet butter. Quite nice. This is a whiskey I could sit and smell while watching a six-year-old wander around the living room in a daze of defeat.

The palate carries along what is present in the nosing, but is joined by a light and well-balanced glaze of marmalade.

Something rougher is added in the finish. I’d say there is a smoky existent in there somewhere, reminiscent of the bread crumbs that fall to the bottom of the toaster getting slightly singed over time.

I think when Jen gets back from the store, I will be there waiting at the gate with a margarita in one hand and a dram of the Bulleit Small Batch Rye in the other; and I’ll give a hearty “Slàinte mhath!” when the returning hero crosses the threshold. She deserves the praise for making the tough and immediate call in the midst of the battle tumult. Confronted by Evelyn’s cute but sinister assaults, she held her ground and was the first of the parents to take aim and fire, bringing awareness to the unbeknownst war between the puppets and the puppeteer. She deserves a most notable acclaim for such fearless decision-making. Not me. The only bullet I’ve managed to fire off amidst these shenanigans, as you already know, is spelled a tad differently.