This dram makes me want to write the sequel to Thomas Nagel’s famous article “What Is It Like To Be a Bat?” And in “What Is It Like To Be a (very special) Hummingbird?” I would argue that the cranking up of my wings to a powerful, helicopter-like hum seems to me as effortless as an accomplished runner’s gait. And no, time doesn’t seem slower to me as my wings beat in time with the wicked fast metronome in my head, even though it is the case that bugs largely strike me like they’re moving through molasses. It’s almost too bad I don’t eat them. I say “almost” because I am part of a very special subspecies of hummingbird, the only one to pollenate the Classic Cask Benrinnes 19 Year 1997 (and similar whiskies, ridiculously rare though they may be).
I can smell it across the meadow: it’s like lemon dish soap kept in a carefully curated rosewood vial–with a biscuit (Southern American version, not the UK version) dappled with fig jam. The aroma calls to me like a small, open jar of apricot and honeysuckle syrup that swirls in the center, a black hole containing thousands of galaxies that wishes to engulf me. I’m getting drunk just smelling it.
My beak and tongue are the products of a unique process of natural selection that has brought me–and very few others–to be perfectly suited for tasting this sweet liquor. (And don’t even get me started on my genitalia.) I take the liquid onto to my tongue and get some heat, but then only sweet, sweet, sweet. Wow. My contention is that even as a pea-brained tiny bird, I couldn’t help but be awash in a sense of awe at my privilege for being genetically engineered so perfectly for this sacred nectar. I bring some fresh spring water to the whisky, and fruit and flower petals leap out from it. If I had hands, I’d try to corral them and keep them in there, but alas, the beat goes on. Of my wings, that is. And I am what one could only describe as truly happy, the object of my avocation all about my face like a toddler with birthday cake icing.
Sated, I pull back and hover before my biological complement and the aftertaste of it is a long, loud, fuzzy version of the experience of it on my tongue. Or perhaps I am inebriated with the simple experience of melding with my pre-ordained purpose in life. Whichever it is, there is no turning back. There is no grand philosophical quandary left behind to help separate the undergraduate metaphysical wheat from the chaff: I am where I am supposed to be, and there is nothing left to ponder but joy.
–On the scale of animals I wouldn’t mind being like–
The Classic Cask Benrinnes 19 Year 1997 is the wombat–OK, so really, I have little interest in being a burrowing animal, but if I were to be one, it’d be the wombat. First, they’re called wombats. That’s badass all by itself. But then they have built-in backward-facing pouches (so when they burrow, they won’t fill with dirt), and “distinctive cubic faeces.” While it’s hard to imagine cubic feces that wouldn’t be distinctive–and setting aside how they do that–that’s some pretty remarkable shit. And for you mathematicians out there, according to Wikipedia, the dental formula of wombats is
22.214.171.124.0.1.4 × 2 = 24
And not being a mathematician, that’s damn impressive to me. Finally, they’re more than a little cute.
–Our thanks to Lauren Shayne Mayer and Spirit Imports for the sample!