A dear friend and I had an interesting email discussion today. Along the way the topic of maturity reared it's hydra-type head - and glared at me. I remembered a story that would be a good way to begin.
And to drink, sir?”
“I think I’ll wait and see what goes with Maturity.”
“Very good, sir.”
When the waiter arrived with Greg’s plate, it was thick around the middle, and had gone brittle and gray around the edges. Greg stared at the nutritious but slightly dull servings until the waiter shifted his weight uneasily. At last Greg spoke. “It looks a bit dry.”
“Perhaps some Enlightenment?” the waiter offered.
“Too strong for this early in the evening,” Greg said. And too pricey any time. “How about a fifth of Pride?”
“Good choice, sir,” the waiter said. Greg stared after the man’s retreating back. Good choice, sir. Christ, he’d have nodded approvingly if I’d ordered a split of Androgyny, or a double shot of Psychosis. Very good, sir.
“Your Pride, sir.”
Greg jumped when the bottle’s stylish label appeared in front of his face. Pride, from 1962. Blushing, Greg nodded his approval. A burgundy cascade leapt into his goblet.
Greg sniffed, relishing the heady aroma of vintage Pride. Truth be told, even Pride was a bit much for his budget. He sipped, then spat backwash that almost sloshed over the rim.
“Hey, waiter!” What was the guy’s name anyway?
“What is this?”
“Then why does it taste like Bourgeois Self-Indulgence?”
“Is there perhaps a trace of Bitterness?”
“A trace!” Greg’s mouth worked in unpleasant memory. “I can’t drink this.”
“Not everyone has the palate for Pride, sir. May I offer you a bottle of Oblivion to whet your Maturity? Or have the bartender blend you some Nostalgia?”
Greg stared at his desiccated Maturity. Soon it would be too dry to eat. He sighed. “Just bring me a schooner of Wishful Thinking.”
“Very good, sir.”
Greg Beatty's stories have been published in a number of anthologies. This was published in Cafe Irreal - February 2003 (Issue 9)