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The dinnertime topic was pets.

The oldest of the four offspring, Joshua, pleaded the enjoyment of owning a duck. By order of seniority, the next in line, Madeline, spoke in full agreement with her elder brother.

“I’ve read they’re pretty messy,” I said, “because they poop pretty much all the time and everywhere they go.”

“That’s why duck owners keep them in diapers,” Joshua replied, swiftly.

Harrison interrupted the discussion, reminding all of us that he and his mother are deathly allergic to almost every animal on the planet. But mid-complaint, he turned toward the feasibility of a hairless cat.

“Have you ever actually seen a hairless cat?!” Madeline asked. “They’re the ugliest things in the world.”

“I’ve seen ’em,” Harrison said, “and I think they look pretty cool, like they’re mad all the time.”

“That’s because they’re bald and ugly,” Evelyn, the youngest of the four, interrupted. “I’d be mad all the time, too, if I was bald and ugly. But I’m not. Which is why I’m so happy. And why I smile a lot.”

Admittedly, the knowledge that my youngest daughter’s inner joy appears to arise from the fact that she isn’t bald and ugly was new to me. So was her choice in pets.

Evelyn proceeded to negotiate the possibility of adopting a baby rhinoceros. It was during that moment of absurdity that the lady of the house spoke, bringing the entire conversation to a swift halt.

“Speaking of baby goats,” Jennifer said, hurriedly pushing her chair from the table and moving to the kitchen, “I forgot to take the tater tots out of the oven.”

Firstly, no one mentioned goats. Secondly, what do goats and tater tots have in common that one might prompt thoughts of the other? None of the children knew. Having asked Jennifer, she couldn’t put her finger on it, either. My guess is that she was thinking of an animal she’d prefer for a pet when it suddenly occurred to her that the words “goat” and “tater tots” share three of the same letters. And lest you think that the alphabet is all that binds them, you should know that goats eat just about anything. When mashed, tater tots can be shaped into just about anything. One of those things is a goat. This alone is an eerie similarity. Lastly, like goats, tater tots like to climb, and they’re also very territorial. Anyone who has ever owned a goat will affirm this truth. Anyone who has ever wrestled a tray of tater tots into the oven will assuredly do the same.

The point? I need for her words to make sense, and until they do, I will remain tortuously trapped in a rabbit hole. Alas, you know the unconcealed link to the whiskey I might very well prefer while seeking the answer. In particular, the Rabbit Hole “Cavehill” Kentucky Straight Bourbon edition would make a fine companion.

With the cork in hand, my plight’s subterranean pathways become thick, almost humidified, by the scent of freshly baked pleasantries, namely, newly glazed doughnuts and buttered cornbread. A sip is a spoonful of cinnamoned oatmeal and tangerine zest. The finish—a mid-medium flash in the darkness, beaming hints of malt, spiced oak, and the crunch of burnt bread crumbs.

Speaking of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland—which, of course, I didn’t—I’m reminded of one particular exchange in Carroll’s delightful book that compares with my current predicament. It begins with the Mad Hatter asking the question, “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?” The tea party of ridiculously wandering conversation continues, until finally:

“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.

I’ll leave you with that—and an encouragement to take the Rabbit Hole “Cavehill” edition with you in your quest.

A kindly hint for the journey: While countless have tried to answer the question, I suspect the answer likely has more to do with the people behind the story, namely Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the Anglican minister beneath the pen name “Lewis Carroll,” and Alice Liddell, the young girl who stirred the story and the daughter of his dear friend, Henry Liddell. Bear in mind as it is with many writers, inspiration often arises from real people, occasions, and locations. In this case, take note that the first draft of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was rendered while the author was staying at the Liddell’s Ravensworth Estate in northern England, which is a place that likely had a writing desk.