, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I heard that Play-Doh trademarked the scent of their product. My first thought was, Can you really keep the smell of wet dirt all to yourself?

I heard a few years back that the infamous jewelry company Tiffany’s did the same thing with the color referred to as robin’s egg blue. Again, I’m surprised it was possible for a company to secure for itself the image of Cool Blue Gatorade mixed with whole milk.

A couple of days ago while sitting beside the pool on vacation, I was staring at what I think was a magnolia tree and reciting to myself the Ten Commandments and their meanings from Luther’s Small Catechism. As a Lutheran pastor, I do this sometimes to keep these things sharp in my mind. If you are at all familiar with Luther’s words in the first of the Six Chief Parts in this handy little volume, then you’ll know that he first provides the biblical text for each commandment and then begins its meaning with the words “What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not…” There beside the pool, I remember thinking, If Luther were writing in the 21st century, he probably would have offered something like: Honor your father and mother. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not take forty-five minute showers, leaving the room with water dripping from its ceiling and no hot water for mom and dad. Or how about this: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that when our parents ask if we’ve cleaned our room we do not say something like, “Um, Yeeaaah,” which really means we just crammed everything, even the stuff that was in the right places, under the bed.

I suppose I’m breaking the previous commandment relating to truth-telling when I share with you that my daughter asked how waffles were made and I told her that they grow like fungus on the sides of trees in the Everglades. When she asked about the syrup that goes on the waffles, I told her that we get it from the same trees that give us the waffles—which is why they go so well together.

“But isn’t maple syrup made from maple trees?”

“Yes it is, honey. And maple trees grow in swampy regions like the Everglades… and Washington D.C.”

“But don’t we have a maple—”

“—Just eat your swamp tree fungus.”

I’m sorry if my wandering in thought is annoying you. It annoys me, too, sometimes. It certainly keeps things interesting with my kids, although my wife would probably be able to use it successfully against me in court.

“Mrs. Thoma, why should I give custody of the children to you?” the magistrate would ask.

“Your honor,” Jennifer might reply, “he tells them that garbage cans are predatory creatures that roam in the wetlands behind our house and that waffles grow on swamp trees in the—”

“—And pizzas, Momma,” Harrison would chime. “He said pizzas grow on trees, too.”

“Is this true, Reverend Thoma?” the judge would turn to me and ask.

“You know,” I’d say resolutely, “I have a black vestment just like the one you’re wearing. I got mine from C.M. Almy. Where’d you get yours? Although—and I’m just being honest—you should liven it up a little. The solo black might fly for trials during Lent, but beyond that, it’s awfully—”

“—Bailiff, get him outta here.”

The Jameson Caskmates IPA edition is a little like what you just read. It has a heart for creativity, but as it shares its fanciful ideas, it does so by going from one thing to the next with only the slightest thread to tie it all together. It’s somewhat unbalanced.

There’s fruit in the nosing, but it’s hard to tell what it is at first. My guess was oranges. But then I took a sip. It’s definitely something from a citrus tree, but the tree is growing mutant oranges that look like pineapples and taste a little like kiwi and sea-salted potato chips. It’s a confused tray of side dishes. For all I know, this strange tree also has waffles growing at its base.

There’s a little bit of hops in there, betraying the IPA on the label, but not enough to convince a beer drinker that this is a viable alternative to his favorite home brews.

The finish is nice enough, lasting a little longer than what you might expect from a fruiter concoction, and then receding with mouthy hues of ginger, salt, and peppercorns.

Again, if you are at all familiar with Luther’s Small Catechism, then you’ll know that his explanation of the Ninth Commandment deals with coveting other people’s possessions. After sipping this particular dram, I’m thinking that the reverend doctor might have scribed, “We should fear and love God so that we do not covet our neighbor’s whiskies that aren’t the Jameson Caskmates IPA edition…”