100% straight bourbon whiskey, 46%, baked beans, bumble bee, c.s. lewis, clerical collar, dodge viper, elitist, family, grand traverse distillery, leaders, michigan, out of place, paper plate, parking garage, picnic, plastic fork, politics, transformers, washington d.c., where you belong
I had a dream last night that I was driving a Dodge Viper painted liked Bumble Bee from the Transformers. I’m pretty sure this is the result of having seen the very same car for sale along the side of the road on my way to a nearby hospital to visit a parishioner.
In the dream, I was driving very slowly through a parking garage, making my way to the top deck. As I crept along, winding my way skyward, making one left-hand turn after the other (which if you have ever been in a parking garage is opposite to the typical flow of traffic) with the convertible top down, I discovered on each new level massive crowds of people dressed in tuxedos and gala gowns. Being careful to weave through the gatherings, the people turned to stare. Some pointed. Others leaned to their partners to whisper. After a little while, I remembered that I was wearing my clerical collar, and with that, a familiar feeling washed over me as I rolled along—a sensation I recall experiencing the first time I found myself in Washington D.C. sitting across the table from a handful of our nation’s political leaders.
It was the unblunted mood of being in a place where I did not belong.
In terms of my time in D.C., who is this lowly parish pastor to be sitting here with us and challenging our efforts at leadership? With regard to the dream, how is it that a man of such lowly vocation would be found driving a Dodge Viper? And not only that, but how is it that he thinks he can drive past us on his way to higher levels in the structure?
Needless to say, I kept driving. Eventually I arrived at the top level, but when I did, I discovered a very thin crowd—perhaps only a handful of people. Among them, at first, I recognized only two. The first was C.S. Lewis. He was leaning against my minivan laughing while smoking his pipe. It was then that I noticed my wife, Jennifer. She was talking with him. In that same moment, I realized she had our youngest daughter on her hip, no longer seven years old, but a toddler again. On the periphery of the conversation were my other little ones—Joshua, Madeline, and Harrison—all much younger than they are now.
When the kids saw me approaching in the Viper, they ran to greet me. Lewis motioned to Jennifer to go, too. Joshua, the first to arrive, wanted to sit in the driver’s seat. Hearing his brother, Harrison asked if he could, too. Madeline just wanted me to pick her up, and so I did. And I held her close. Jennifer balanced Evelyn and gave me a kiss.
That was pretty much it.
Like most of the dreams I have, if when I awaken I’m able to retain much of what transpired, I do so wondering if the imaginings have any particular meaning. In other words, what is my mind doing while I’m sleeping, and how is it trying to sort out what I can’t seem to categorize while I’m awake? Most often, I don’t know the answer to that question. But this dream left me thinking that even as I find myself in different places with different people—sometimes even ending up at events reserved for those we would consider the societal elite—in the end, the highest stratum of the structure in this life is found among those for whom you’d give up everything to keep with you for eternity. It’s found in the familiar embrace of someone who loves you, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are—a husband, a father, a friend.
Now, why was C.S. Lewis there, and why was he getting so friendly with my wife? That I don’t know. I do admire him. A lot, in fact. I’ll have to think about that one.
So, what does this have to do with whiskey? Well, I suppose the dream I shared—which in a sense was one that teaches to be happy right where you are—could lead toward valuing the whiskies created in one’s own state. As a Michigander, I’m discovering that even as I could shell out Dodge Viper dollars for a nice bottle of Scotch, I can find myself just as smiley with a bottle of whiskey from one of my own home’s distilleries for a lot less. Michigan whiskey manufacturers are creating some really good drams.
Take, for example, the Grand Traverse Distillery’s 100% Straight Bourbon Whiskey. This is some great stuff.
Even while gathering closely to the sample as it was being poured into my bottle to take home, the scent was foretelling an exceptional sipper. And when I arrived home and transferred the elixir to a Glencairn, giving it a swirl or two before lifting scents of sweet corn dotted with black pepper, sea salt, and paprika, again, I knew I was being led to something exceptional.
The palate confirmed my expectations, first ushering along the sweet corn and the sea salt, but then adding to the jamboree a little bit of the smoke from the fire below the pot that’s boiling the cobs.
The finish was a medium relenting of barrel spice and baked beans mixed with brown sugar. Yes, you read that correctly—baked beans—something you’d never be served at an elitist gala in Washington D.C., but would most certainly discover simmering beside a plastic bowl full of potato salad and a plate of sweet corn on the deck table in July. Scooping it onto your paper plate, and stealing a bite with your plastic fork, you realize that while it wasn’t delivered in a Dodge Viper, it’s no less transient or precious, and that’s because you are right where you belong.