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Blamelessly Canadian

March 14, 2014

Sometimes the subject of Canada comes up. It probably comes up more often among Canadians. But even normal people consider Canada and Canadians from time to time. I had one such moment this week. As it happened, this moment of Canada Consciousness came as I was considering returning to the unfinished post from early February, 1097 [In Progress], to continue with the story of Nathaniel and Lebowski. Monday was Nathaniel’s birthday. I thought I might finish it for that, but did not. But then the moment of CC came to gently color the whole of my experience with soft hues of autumn foliage, the warm glow of maple syrup, and the dulcet tones of loneliness found only in the call of the loon and in the wistful sighs of those late greats of the Northland, John Candy and Peter Jennings. And I remembered something from long ago.

At the time I was early in my drinking career and I was not much acquainted with whiskey. And one day Nathaniel happened, just in a casual way, to mention that the other night he had tasted some whiskey that was pretty good. He did not rave about it, just mentioned his positive impression. The very next time I was at the liquor store I bought that brand of whiskey. And I continued to buy it, making it my liquor of choice for the next year or so. When Nathaniel came over we would often drink it together. But after that year I moved on in my drinking, and never drank it again.

That whiskey was Canadian Mist. Which is one of the lamest names any whiskey ever had. And the packaging did not do much to improve on it. Canadian Mist. A brand of whiskey without any appeal, any cachet. To my palate the taste was foul, as all whiskey tasted foul to me then. The only reason to buy it was the one mention by my friend, who was more worldly in the ways of booze. And this goes back to what I wrote in the unfinished post, my regard for his opinion. Though I wish I had actually asked him about whiskies, because I am sure he could have mentioned some others, leaving me with more options than the sadly undistinguished Canadian Mist, which, though I have passed it at the ABC, I have never seen anywhere else, nor heard anyone mention since. Though it is probably not half bad, as far as it goes.

O Canada! Why even bother with whiskey when you know the Scots and the Irish and the Scots-Irish of Appalachia do it better? I remember a character in Denis Johnson story who drank pints of Canadian Club as he drove across the middle of America, but the characterization was not very favorable.  What place does Canadian whiskey have in the world psyche? Isn’t it a dull and sad place? Canadian whiskey — as dull and sad as staying sober.

O Death! How sentimental you make us, that I have such an urge to go out right now to the liquor store, and buy myself a bottle of Canadian Mist.

 

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