PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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The Dirty Den

aububon bar

I don't drink a lot of martinis in bars, but when I do, I always order the same thing: dry Grey Goose martini, straight up, with olives. It's a clean, clear, cold drink, with a treat at the end: three pimento-filled olives to chew off a toothpick.

I had the occasion to order this very drink recently at a bar named Audubon, on Beacon Street near Fenway. My old friend Dave with was with me and ordered a dry Ketel One martini with a twist. His son Gus ordered a Cosmo, and I ordered a beer.

The waitress went off and soon returned, saying "I forgot what you ordered." I told her, "Orval." A beer. 

But soon I demurred. Why not have a martini, since Dave and Gus were drinking spirits in martini glasses. So I jumped up and found the waitress as she was typing our order: "Actually, I'll have a dry martini, Grey Goose, with olives," I say.

OK, what happens next is the God's honest truth: first, a drink is put before Dave, which is identified as the "Ketel One Martini," but clearly contains olives. Dave, as a non-olive consumer, says something along the lines of "I really don't like olives. I ordered my drink with a twist." So, as any good food establishment will do, they take his drink back. Meanwhile, my drink is put down, and I take a sip: this is a dirty martini, I'm thinking, not a dry martini. Before the waiter can leave, I alert him to this error: I just want a dry martini. Grey Goose. With olives. And then Dave reiterates: And I want a Ketel One martini, straight up, with a lemon twist.

Seems like the waiter understands. Sort of. Soon, he returns and puts down a martini with a very long, twisted lemon rind in front of Dave. Dave takes a sip and declares to me: this is a dirty martini. With a twist. This may be the very first dirty martini with a twist ever made by a "professional" bartender, and it's just befuddling. So, by now we've ordered zero dirty martinis, and have received three of them (assuming that the first martini delivered to Dave, which looked like it had a splash of olive juice in it, was dirty).

Dave decides he'll suffer through his dirty martini with a lemon twist.

It takes a little time for my martini to arrive, maybe another five minutes, and when it does it has olives on the side. Clearly, they are being careful here. But, when I take a sip, it's yet another dirty martini, packed with salty olive water, which to me is borderline gross.  

Not joking!

This is not a bar that's just learning the ropes. I've been going to Audubon for decades. It's like we were at a house party where the host makes up a pitcher of dirty martinis and you have no drink option except dirty martinis, or variations on that. ("Would you like your dirty martini with a twist?")

Moral of the story? Stick to beer. 

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Ballooney

News that China floated a balloon over our great nation to spy on us makes me think that we have become a super paranoid country. Seriously, a balloon? Slowly meandering across the country like a retiree on a pontoon boat?

I thought China had long ago figured out how to send satellites into orbit to spy on us.

Meanwhile, my other country of citizenship (Canada) was apparently asleep when the illegal balloon rocketed across the sky at the speed of, well, a balloon. Canada probably figured that there wasn't much about the north's vast supply of snow that China didn't already know, so just let the portly orb float on by.

Balloon surveillance sounds like nonsense. It's intelligence gathering of yesteryear, or maybe yestercentury. Didn't Benjamin Franklin send balloons into the air in Philadelphia to spy on New Jersey? I think Napoléon used them as well. That the evil balloon was first discovered over Montana makes me wonder if China is spying on our skiers, hoping to gain an edge before the next winter Olympics.

I haven't yet read a word to explain what the real danger was of allowing the puffy floating object to continue on its way, but maybe I'll learn more after the bits and pieces are retrieved from the "relatively shallow waters" of the Atlantic Ocean.

Meanwhile, scientists say that area birds were heard tweeting and cawing in pitches much higher than what is normal for them, after the helium was released from the bubble, causing their bird friends to laugh uncontrollably.

Add "take a hot air balloon ride" to the list of things I must do before I'm shot out of the sky. 

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The Bitters

We in New England suddenly find ourselves in the midst of a rare and shocking cold snap. This may be the warmest winter in recorded history, but don't tell that to this weekend. This weekend is getting in the faces of other weekends and tweeting out "How ya like me now?!" It's strutting and preening and signing autographs because today we're going to see some of the lowest temperatures in something like a hundred thousand years!

What's that? Sorry, my fact-checkers say we were still in an ice age 25,000 years ago.

Whatever. Stop arguing with me. The fact is we've got some bitter air here in New England, bitterer than the international bitterness units (IBUs) in my New England IPA. As someone who worries about just how bad climate change is going to be, I am curious if this is the last time we'll see negative temperature values in Boston

I decide to step outside into the wind-swept night to see what the bitter cold felt like against my supple skin. Would it feel like I had landed on another planet? My daughter joined me outside for about 30 seconds, and both of us nonchalantly declared that it was no big deal. Then went back into our warm house. In truth, we weren't in the wind.

Then, at 1 in the morning, with the wind blowing and the thermometer reading -8 degrees F, I step outside to find a rabbit chilling in the backyard, literally, not seeking the warmth of one of those rabbit holes we all keep talking about going down at work. Maybe this one was relegated to the sofa for the night, rabbit-wise.

This morning the rabbit is gone, presumably not frozen to death, and maybe chased back into a hole by one of our several neighborhood coyotes. Based on how it felt last night, the coyotes did that rabbit a favor. 

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Grassy

Picture of a chairlift at Sugarloaf Mountain with very little snow It's All Natural

My youth is pocked and peppered with tiny bits of memories of something called "grass skiing." Sometimes I wonder if grass skiing was really a thing at all, or if it was just a dream I once had, or maybe something I saw online. Except it was the 1970s and there was no "online." It might have been an ad in a newspaper, in the sports section or maybe metro, a small rectangle in the corner on the page otherwise devoted to department store bras. In my memory, there's a person in shorts and a t-shirt, holding ski poles and smiling on a mountain bluff, wearing bright green ski boots.

At the time, I was a young skier, willing to believe that I could extend the joys of winter by skiing in the summer. But this didn't look quite like the skiing I was used to, where your boots are strapped onto boards that slide along slippery, cold stuff. The grass skiing I imagined from the ad I saw was more like strapping skateboards to your feet and rolling in the weeds helmet-free, a recreational sport seemingly designed to wreck knees and cause heads to make contact with large rocks.

I didn't ever ski on grass. I just remember that you could do it at a mountain I frequented in winter, called Labrador.

A recent trip to Sugarbush mountain in Vermont reminded me of grass skiing because although I was there to ski, many of the slopes were covered in carpets of grass rather than snow. The northeast has never had as reliable snow as the Rockies, even when I was skiing in the 1970s, but snow guns help to fill in where mother nature hasn't. You can ski on this fake snow, though it's not quite the same as skiing on the packed powder that forms after white stuff falls from clouds. But one thing you can't do is make snow when the temps are in the 50s. I'll be honest: warm weather in wintertime depresses me, indicating that climatologists haven't been kidding, and that my favorite recreational activity may not survive in these parts past the mid-21st century.

There is still time for this winter to be rescued. Mother Nature could brew up a storm any day, dumping a foot or two of snow on the hills so that the February break isn't a bust. Two big storms is really all we need this year. But in the future, grass skiing may be our best bet. 

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Daily Haiku

 

Cats oft’ void their guts.

They cough out fur balls. They puke.  

We tread carefully.  

 

College Tuition

We dig ourselves a deep hole

Need a second job.

 

Now that I’m sixty

People think I’m a wise man

Probably, I’m not

 

I’m in my Fifties

But tomorrow I’m Sixty

Will need a sports car

 

My PCP Says

“Keep doin’ what yer doin’”

Prob’ly I should not

 

It’s St. Patrick’s Day

We eat beef that has been corned

Whatever that means

 

Robots and A.I.

I will make use of these soon

To do my taxes

 

Strange Oscar night end

Pacino failed to mention

Best pic nominees

 

Who’s this Katie Britt?

Scary. Wierd. We could have used

A Trigger Warning

 

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