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The question is a simple one. It is comprised of two words, one a contraction and the other a proper noun. And yet, when joined together and aimed at the appropriate informant, they are as a divining rod to water. They hold the potential for discovering a bounteous wellspring of information.

“Where’s Josh?” I asked the bright-eyed seven-year-old girl playing with her Barbies.

“He’s in his room,” she responded without breaking the imaginary gymnastics competition that Barbie was undoubtedly winning. “And he’s texting on his phone. His room is a mess. His bed isn’t made and he has clothes all over the floor. He pushed some of them under his bed. He also has a glass and a bowl in there. And the Chicken-in-a-Biskit box. Didn’t you tell him not to do that? I don’t think he’s done his homework or studied for the test he has tomorrow in math, either. If he’s not texting anymore, he’s probably sleeping because he stayed up after you told him to go to bed last night.”

“Thanks, Evelyn.”

“You’re welcome. Do you want me to go get him?”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”


“No, honey, I’ll get him,” I said. “You’ve given me enough intel to get the special ops team prepped and ready. You’d better just stay here and play with your Barbies, because when the team engages the target, if he learns who gave him up, it could get messy.”

“Can I put Barbie on the banister to watch?”

“She could be on the forward team, if you want. I’m on that team and I could take her with me. Is she a fast runner in case things get crazy?”

“Not right now. She broke her leg in the last competition,” Evelyn said and showed me the doll with a bit of toilet paper wrapped around and taped to one of its legs.

“And she’s still competing?”

“She’s Barbie. She has to win,” the little girl said appearing surprised. “Haven’t you seen any of her movies?”

“Have you ever heard of Nancy Kerrigan?”

“Who’s that?”

“She was a figure skater who…”

“This isn’t skating, Daddy. This is gymnastics.”

“Never mind,” I said. “Barbie can sit on the banister.”

Over the course of the next few minutes, several things happened. Most notably, and first, Evelyn was right about pretty much everything, and this made for a contentious but successful engagement with my seventeen-year-old son. Second, when the newly awakened and unsteady sloth finally emerged from his room to help set the table for dinner, Barbie was knocked from the banister and fell ten feet to her death at the bottom of the stairs. Looks like her nemesis, Valerie, will be winning the world gymnastics competition this year. And probably the next… at least until there’s a “Barbie Rises from the Grave” movie that can set a new precedent in Barbie lore.

Of course, after such a lively pre-dinner sortie, it was only right to both celebrate the mission’s success while toasting to a “fallen” comrade with a sip from an untapped edition. The evening’s celebratory dram was The Glenlivet’s Single Cask Edition Kymah 16-year-old.

Casked in 1998 and bottled in 2014, this exquisite concoction is not only uniquely sourced from the Kymah Burn—a stream that feeds the River Livet—but it is an extremely limited bottling sold only through the Heinemann shops at the Frankfurt airport. There are only 528 of these in existence, and I am really quite fond of mine.

There’s a gentle, wine-like accent in the nosing. The sherry cask maturation is there, but its signature is thinned slightly by the scent of honey and brown sugar. Once in the mouth and on the tongue, there’s a generous spate of whisky-making intel. It reveals a carefully crafted whisky set for engaging the consumer with gently honeyed citrus, warm and buttery almonds, and chocolate chips.

The finish is as slothfully traipsing as a 17-year-old son—but in a good way. It moves slowly from one point to the next, leaving a trail of nutmeg and wood spice to keep you warm long after its gentler attributes have departed.

So, the lessons learned: Barbie doesn’t always survive the adventure, the CIA needs to start hiring seven-year-old girls, and The Glenlivet Kymah is a most excellent dram for calming one’s spirit after dueling with an abruptly awakened and accused teenage son.