Janine was having a bad day. Her ambition to produce abridged versions of the collected microfiction of Lydia Davis was hitting obstacles at every turn. Still she retreated into her attic, switched on the desk lamp, and breathed in the manky air. That’s odd, she thought. It smelled a bit like the white sangria served at the publisher’s Fire Island home last summer. Honeyed, carameled, rich; he always had a generous elbow when he held a brandy bottle. She closed her eyes to concentrate a bit more. Yes, there is molasses, but also a spongy log after a spring rain and Genoise cake with butter cream frosting. As she opened her eyes, Janine saw that she was nosing the Dewars 27 Double Double. Jerry in accounts payable had given it to her as a gift, saying, with a smile, “break glass in case of emergency.”
Soon enough, she put her lips to the glass and a thought took hold of her with the determination of a TSA agent with a long wand and a short fuse. Happily the thought that so gripped her was a wonderful one: what a lovely, lovely, lovely thing. It was like a swallow of her boyfriend’s IPAs, those hazy, honeyed, flower buddy, nectary elixirs that he talked a little too frequently about, though his passion charmed her. But this taste was different. It resided on a different elemental plane and was shot through with cedar smoke or tobacco. The warmth overspreading her seemed to rouse her muse. She thought that what she tasted, were it made flesh, would wear a mohair vest and a tiny pocket watch at the end of a long chain. It would move with a gracious saunter. She had not been as sure of anything as she was of the gait of this incarnated flavor.
The finish was finer and more distinguished than the mouth; though perhaps quicker than she wished, it was still a saunter of the unhurried confidence she had only when smoking cigarettes on the fire escape with her boyfriend and making up stories about the people walking on sidewalks nine floors down. The beautifully balanced mouthfeel left its impression, like departed hips still pushing into a mattress, so that it was memory and experience all wrapped together. But can there be experience without memory? Janine wondered in a philosophical turn. Then the finish intruded again, this time with Cognac-y grace notes, a koala’s kiss, and the tacky touch of a lacquered chair leg. Janine felt a sense of love rising within her, as if burlwood grain could trace itself upon her heart.
On the scale of lines from Lydia Davis’ microfiction–
The Dewar’s Double Double 27 Year Old is Janine’s favorite: “But at other times, I sit here reading in the afternoon, a myrtle in my buttonhole, and there are such beautiful passages in the book that I think I have become beautiful myself.” From “Kafka Cooks Dinner,” collected in unabridged form in Varieties of Disturbance.
–Our thanks to Dewar’s for the sample!