Scotch Whisky & Good Cigar – Vice or Virtue
Note: The last time I attempted a post like this I was summarily criticized by some of the opposite sex. Please, I beg of you, refrain from offering up your public criticism, and just hear me out—contain your criticism to ‘Private judgement’ if you disagree or disapprove. Thank you for your courtesy and indulgence in this regard. By way of full disclosure this is, admittedly, a Scotch-fueled soliloquy. Good sense would counsel me not to hit the publish button before a suitable time of reflection has passed, but I’ve never been accused of having an over-abundance of good sense.
My niece Kelly, a delightful young lady in her own right, prompted this foray into the danger zone with her recent Facebook post: 22 Excellent Reasons to Drink More Whiskey [Whisky). So, as per usual, I will blame a woman for my apparent lack of good judgement. Me being the typical man I suppose.
I created this blog, Expat Journal, two years ago. I have publicly stated many, many times that I appear to be incapable of sharing my feelings and thoughts verbally, so I take to the pen (in this case the computer) to share what would probably remain unsaid otherwise. Someday (in the distant future), as my kids reread these old posts, they will hopefully come to know the man their father was, or wanted to be. Shawn, Michael and Kristina—this blog, and the posts contained herein, are for you (for better or worse).
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
Henry David Thoreau
To be a man. To be a man, I whisper, hear me roar (outrageously plagiarized from the women’s movement of the 60’s and 70’s). It is difficult, if not outright impossible, to know what a man is supposed to be today. Traditional roles no longer exist, and men (like women) are struggling to redefine themselves in this so-called modern era. I am a dinosaur, and also a hybrid. Raised with traditional values, I have also had to come to terms with modern-day realities. Born a century too late I am a lousy hybrid.
By any calculation I am in the winter of my life. Spring, summer and fall have all passed into yesteryear—and I am left with the reality of my life as lived up to this very moment. This is not a depressing thought, as might first appear, because my life is actually getting simpler. Like a Japanese Zen koan, my life seems to be distilling into a series of lessons learned. As the superfluous fades away the essential (the essence) remains. People matter. Character matters. Truth and self-awareness matters. Dreams matter. Simple pleasures can matter.
“If one advances confidently in the direction of his [her] dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he [she] has imagined, he [she] will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Henry David Thoreau
I’ve written at some length about truth, honesty, integrity, respect and courage before. These are the building blocks of character that help to define a man. I increasingly find, at this semi-advanced age, that I am a very simple man after all. Others may find me complex, but I know the truth of the matter. Hopefully, I’ve passed some of this hard-earned knowledge on to my kids. My mistakes probably speak louder than my successes, but if I’ve learned anything in this life it is to: Share our wisdom generously.
My pleasures in this life are few these days. I call them pleasures, others would label them vices. Be that as it may, I continue to enjoy them while I can. I recommend them to no one but myself. I do not advocate overindulgence, nor do I cringe at the accusation that they are the wages of sin. They are the simple pleasures of a simple man, and I will continue to indulge them until I draw my last breath. And, yes, I take full responsibility for my hedonistic pleasures just as I do for my perceived sins.
A Good Dog
A good dog is God’s gift to mankind. Loyal, honest and fully equipped with boundless unconditional love and a non-judgmental attitude. Man’s best friend. I’ve had thirteen wonderful dogs in my life, and though I truly loved all thirteen, three were standouts (all three were German Shepherd Dogs): Sarge, Schatzie and Major (may you RIP). There is no better feeling than spending quiet time with a special dog.
Good Scotch Whisky
Whisky is my drink of choice. I spell it Whisky (and not Whiskey), because I prefer Scotch Whisky. Single-malts are the best, especially from Islay. Lagavulin and Laphroaig top the list, but I wouldn’t turn down a good dram of Arbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman or Port Charlotte. Venture to the Highlands and a great bottle of Speyside The Macallan (18 years) will go down just fine. Three rocks, two fingers equals nirvana.
A Good Cigar
Cuban’s are the gold standard. But great smokes come from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Ecuador too. A great cigar is not to be inhaled, but savored on the palette like a fine vintage wine. It is all about the flavor and not the nicotine. Tradition and ritual—from the preparation of the heel, to the lighting of the head. With a cigar it’s all about respect. It’s a masculine thing primarily (a guy thing), and is typically hard for a woman to understand, much less appreciate. I get that. So, we’re up to a good dog, a good drink and a good smoke. What’s left?
Possibly a Good Woman. My mistakes with women are legend. Think of any way to screw up a relationship with a woman and I’m your man. But when it works it is wonderful. It’s hard to top an evening with an intelligent, confident, funny and beautiful woman. I probably sound patronizing here, and that’s not my intent at all. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, because that ALWAYS gets me into trouble. Suffice it to say that I like women who are both feminine, and indulgent of my maleness—in other words they don’t hold it against me that I’m a man. Women have the power. They can make a man, and they can just as easily break a man. I love a woman who is a woman, and allows me to be a man. I am a man, and I’m tired of making apologies for it. Nuff said I think.
I have spent almost my entire life fighting wars: Actual wars, corporate wars, political wars and gender wars. I am done fighting—I am tired. I will spend my remaining years indulging the few pleasures I have left: Dogs, Whisky, Cigars and possibly an interesting woman here and there. Thank you niece Kelly for getting me into trouble yet once again. Shall I push the publish button? What the hell.