I first drank Tamdhu in September 2006. It wasn't the first scotch I drank but it was the first in Scotland. It's become tied to strong memories, times of occasion and celebration. Here's how I spent my first bottle.
A tasty brew for manly men
Nobody needs to feel bad for my finances. I've loved computers and programming from an early age, by a quirk of fate it pays well. I wasn't much in debt, but the shiny smooth seductive plastic drew me into its orbit yet again. I bought the first bottle of Tamdhu as an incentive for when I paid them off.
My credit-card balance finally returned to zero after a year long hiatus. I'd accepted a new job and had good feelings about it. I paused for a moment and enjoyed where my career had taken me. The horizons looked as beautiful as some peaks I'd just climbed. Endless questions I'd faced about what to do next faded into blissful oblivion. Some questions would one day return, I enjoy change. But for the moment I was back in that enjoyable mind-set: they're going to pay me to write code! hotdamn! I sipped Tamdhu in the newly painted purple room of the first house I owned and life was good.
My next memories of Tamdhu revolve around my friends Cliff and Vlad. Around the time Cliff and I had some long late night conversations, and around the time Vlad moved back to Edmonton.
Dear Lord, Thank you for this beer I am about to receive.
Cliff's tasteless brand of humor and quick wit is legendary. Thanks to his comments on this site, I've had people ask "So... [long pause] who's Cliff?" He's the guy who can string together a joke about the holocaust, Warren Moon, yo' mamma, why raping babies is a good thing and, should he choose, somehow involve a relevant and topical dissertation on the Iraq situation and the problems with no-fault insurance laws [go on Cliff, that's a challenge]. In a rant about ranting, Shaun once posited that "maybe we rant for the sake of amusing Cliff". It's true. There is something inherently fun in this past time. Cliff and I have finished many coffees in all-night diners cracking each other up and mightily offending other tables in the process. I once caused the premature end of coffee by accidentally yelling (not to Cliff) "why don't you come over here and suck my dick!" Out-offending Cliff was an unsought but highly prestigious accolade. Also one time me, Chad and Kelly made slurpee shoot out of Cliff's nose and he nearly drove us off the highway.
Befriending Cliff, I learned a bit more about what being a real man was. Not a sensitive 90s guy pussy except when strictly necessary to get laid. Returning from Scotland I announced I now liked Scotch and Jack Daniels:
"About fucking time!" Cliff grunted in disgust.
It took years until Cliff and I had conversations other than just laughing. I'm not a sports guy and he's not a computer guy. Over time we found topics other than “Christopher Reeve – stuntman extraordinaire/paperweight for hire.” Is Cliff an onion? Of course not, he's a human being. And he's my friend. And I'm glad to be counted as one of Cliff's friends too.
Wanted by authorities for serial awesomeness.
Vlad once made his ears ring for a week and embedded plastic shrapnel in his leg because he poured cold water over dry ice in a pop bottle and he was kicking it trying to make it explode. It did.
Years later we made day trips to ski in Jasper, saw Radiohead in Vancouver, house-boated in Shuswap. We were coworkers for years and then our branch closed. I stayed home and he moved away.
I missed him.
After a few years he was suddenly back, hanging around my house, eating my potato chips and helping himself to my liquor; the sort of things I'd do at his place. Oh, and smiling. Everybody smiled a little bit more.
Vlad's the one who explained money to me. Growing up in his village: sometimes you had money and sometimes you didn't. When you had money, drinks were on you and whatnot. When you didn't, one of your friends would look after things. Everyone was happy and sometimes no one had money, but you still had friends. And I have Vlad, and that was much better than not being in debt, but this year, I had that too.
Curtis and I help kill the Moose
My father-in-law, Ken, reminds me in some ways of my early friendship with Cliff, only without the holocaust jokes, or rather, any conversation at all. But we are likewise two different men. Instead of humor we are bound by a deep love of the same woman; his daughter, my wife. So, I try. He chats about hunting a lot and has hunted since he was a young boy. He has long relationships with many surrounding farmers. I came along for my first hunting trip, when he and brother-in-law, Curtis, went looking for moose.
I expected walking through bushes, wearing camouflage, waiting silently for animals to tread nearby. Instead we drove around all day in a truck and spent our nights in a small cabin with electricity. And with my new father and new brother that night I drank Tamdhu.
...the universe flows through me...
The next day, certain a moose was hiding within a densely forested bit of land, Ken dropped Curtis and I off along the outer part of the woods. Curtis can be a big and intimidating guy, especially when you're dating his sister. Except then you get to know him and realize he's just the kindest man ever, even when you're dating his sister, or perhaps despite it. And we're both computer guys, and we always have lots to talk about.
Curtis and I waited for Dad to drive 'round to the clearing opposite before moving forward. Now parked, Ken waiting for signs. Suddenly -- a commotion!
First one moose burst into the field, then another. Normally moose stick to tree lines, but these bolted past him, headed for parts unknown. Steadying his rifle, he shot the moving animal. It slowed, taking a few final steps, then another, then two more before finally stopping.
It stood there.
Standing in an open clearing. Suddenly contemplating how lovely the sky looked today. Waiiiiting.....
Ken had indeed scored a hit, dead center. The moose, however, remained. Upright. Ken put another bullet through its neck and it toppled to the ground. Silly Moose, standing is for things that aren’t dead.
I've heard that story many times. Four or five times that night. It's wonderful. Now I've got something to talk to new Dad about. And also because I got to wield a bloody axe chopping Moose's head off before we pulled its guts out and hauled the carcass onto the truck.
Janine, my wife, says I've been spoiled: getting a moose my first try.