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The sun is rising on Day Four of our annual Florida vacation. The coffee is brewing. The family is still sleeping. I’m at the computer in a reasonably comfortable chair at the kitchen dinette. There’s a partially consumed bowl of Special K cereal beside me. I’m ready to go.

This is the routine every morning and I love it.

Jen, my incredibly thoughtful wife, mentioned to me a few days ago that she gets nervous for me when it comes to this particular scene that I just described. She knows that I look forward to vacation every year, that writing whatever I feel like writing each and every morning is a huge part of the physical and emotional rest that I need. She knows that I could wake up and do this every morning of every year for the rest of my life. Her worry, however, is that one day I’ll sit down and not be able to come up with anything to say.

Silly girl. My fear is just the opposite, and with that, I’m going to take a slight detour before merging once again with the flow of my usual whisky narratives.

I feel as though I have a vast collective of stories—both fictional and non-fictional—being stored in a particular room in my brain. Each day as I observe and go about life in general, that room housing the stories becomes more and more filled, and the only way to make space in my mental storehouse is to take one of the stories from one of the shelves and put it onto the computer screen and set it before the masses.

And believe me, there’s always a story to tell. Careful observation is very rewarding in this regard. If you’re paying attention, if you’re at least concerning yourself with the living things involved in most everything occurring around you, you’ll have something to talk about when the time comes and you are put to the test. It takes practice, but after a while, it becomes rather natural.

“But not everyone can turn these things into stories,” Jen says in response. “Not everyone likes to write.”

“I know,” is my reply. “And not everyone likes birdwatching—including me. But if it involves Pterodactyls, now, that’s something I’d probably do.”

The point is, if there’s nothing to write about, first of all, remember there’s always something to write about. Just look around. Second, remember that whatever you discover is never self-contained. Things connect to other things. Think about what you’ve done, where you’ve been, what you’ve seen and heard, and then change the rules and tell the story you want to tell—that you’d like to tell—as it relates to whatever you already know. Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. Who knows? Maybe the Shark Week reruns you’ve been watching while cuddling with the kids on the couch might make good fodder for a whiskey review about a Great White named Gary stopping in at a bar in Nixon, North Carolina.

And now, as an example of how this all works while at the same time rejoining with the freeway that is a clergyman’s whisky narrative…

I heard a radio commercial a few days ago that I filed away in my mind’s storehouse. It was one that troubled me. It offered a peppy little jingle with some memorable lyrics being delivered by an exuberant narrator. The problem with all of this is that the company that I was supposed to recall by way of the commercial was DumpMySpouse.com, which is an online legal group that makes it easy and cheap to get a divorce. In fact, the commercial seemed to glorify as fun what so many already know as a dreadfully painful and family-thrashing experience. It sang along and sold, “When matrimony turns to acrimony, go to DumpMySpouse.com…”


Still, things connect to other things. Good or bad.

As soon as I heard the commercial I thought of my experience with The Singleton Glendullan 12-year-old. A few weeks back, a whisky shop proprietor convinced me—so peppily and so exuberantly—to give the edition a go. But he did so by presenting it as all but having been gifted from the very hand of God. And yet, one sip of this inexpensive offal and I knew I’d been sold a cheap divorce from some hard-earned dollars.

The whisky is by no means divine. As an experienced whisky consumer, it’s just barely above the threshold of okay.

When the cork is popped, there is at first a pleasant enough rendering of what seems to be apples and walnuts, but in that next moment, as the whisky is given over to the glass, you realize those tree crops were incinerated—probably because they were your wife’s apples and walnuts, but the judge assigned them to you in the divorce, and if she couldn’t have them, she certainly wasn’t going to stand idly by and let you have them.

The carbonized fruits seep into the palate, but their edges are dulled by a sweeter kiss of sherry and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. But again, as the dram proceeds, these too get torched, leaving behind a bitter aftertaste in what teeters between a medium and long finish.

Like divorce.

My thoughts: Pay attention and then write about whatever you want to write about. Oh yeah, and since we’re already talking about it, know that marriage isn’t easy, but it certainly can be a grand carnival of joy when you’re invested in it and putting in the muscle to make it work. With that, cherish what you’ve been given. Give in return. Most importantly, forgive as you would want to be forgiven. Unless, of course, your spouse buys you a bottle of The Singleton 12-year-old for your birthday. With that, I guess there’s always DumpMySpouse.com.

Just kidding. Drink the whisky, smile, and say thank you.