Tuesday, December 19, 2017

#206. or, The Duke of Argyll

  Hey there, thanks for swinging by, sit down, get comfy. Maybe loosen your pants a bit, grab a coffee. I'm going to try to tell you a story. Most likely I'm just going to leave you confused and wondering what the hell was that? But I'm going to do my best. My ability to spin a yarn is a little rusty.

  Ok, I need to explain something here. Like, at least a month back, my wife decided it might a nice thing to broaden our alcoholic endeavours. No wait, that's not right. Expand our knowledge on the subtle nuances of different variates of distilled liquor. Ya, I like that better. Anyway, scotch in particular. Now, I have a suspicion this particular choice may have been due to my wife's new fondness for all things Scottish in nature, fueled by her passion for Outlander, which we sorta binge watched together. Or, she could have been trying to prove to me that wonderful things can, in fact come from peat, other than wild buckwheat and sub par barley.

  I've always been a fan of scotch, so I was all in, and we sampled some varieties. Learned that it's best undiluted with mixes, but if you must, cutting it with a splash of water can reduce the harshness without sullying the complex undertones. Also, we learned that scotch is freaking expensive and that we can't afford that habit. One of those expensive varieties is Chivas Regal. That distillery is owned by the Duke of Argyll. He lives in the top floor of his castle and you can tour the lower floors if you were to ever visit Scotland.

  That last bit is important.

  Fast forward to this past weekend. We were in the city, doing some Christmas shopping, looking at lights, saw a movie, stopped at a restaurant for supper. We were in that in-between time. You know, after you've ordered your meal but before you get it. The time where the phones come out and you check to see what you might have missed while you did real life things. It was then, as the food arrived at our table, my wife turned her phone to me and showed me a photo of a castle. She said, "It's in Scotland. You can visit it, you remember? The Duke of Argyll?"

  Ok. Now I have to explain something. Ten years ago or so, I damaged my hearing doing dumb shit. Which now that I think about it, was also alcohol related and that's kinda ironic, but unimportant. My hearing somewhat recovered but left me with a thing where if I'm in a crowded noisy place, sometimes I'll hear something, but it will be all tangled up with other sounds and I have to let that confusion of noise wrap itself around my eardrums and trust my brain to sort it all out. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

  She said, "It's in Scotland. You can visit it, you remember? The Duke of Argyll?"

  I didn't catch, Duke of Argyll. The only reference I had was a photo of a castle and I didn't want to be accused of having a conversation while not paying attention, which I have been guilty of and try not to do anymore. So it was up to my brain to step up and save the day. My mildly ADD brain. Somewhere in my cerebral cortex, synapses and neurons began to fire. The wheel of the giant Rolodex of retained knowledge I posses slowly began to turn, and from between the card that says Wilma Flintstone's maiden name is Slaghoople, and the one that says you can treat foot fungus with a mixture of formaldehyde and water, my brain plucked a card and went with it.

 She said, "It's in Scotland. You can visit it, you remember? The Duke of Argyll?"

  My brain grabbed onto the only rememberance remotely similiar to what she had said and belched out, Doukhobor Val?  Cleverly, I raised the inflection at the end to indicate either interest OR a question.

  Ok. Now I have to explain something. Fifteen or so years ago, our family toured a Doukhobor settlement in the interior of British Columbia. They're kind of like Mennonites or Amish. They reject personal materialism. I don't know? It's in my brain. Like I said, sometimes my brain doesn't do a good job of sorting things out.

  She said, "It's in Scotland. You can visit it, you remember? The Duke of Argyll?"

  Doukhobor Val?

  And then my wife nearly spit out her fish and chips.

  Part of my brain. The smart part. The part that makes sure I don't do dumb things like accidentally drink anti-freeze,  knew that was not the proper response. That part of my brain was also now aware that my wife had started to snicker, which in turn drew the attention of The Boy, who actually hadn't been paying attention. The smart part of my brain carefully took stock of the situation as my wife's snickering escalated into a state of not being able to breathe as she tried to stifle full on laughter in the middle of the Saturday night restaurant crowd. And, while the dumb part of my brain was trying to reconcile why a Doukhobor person named Val, who had renounced material possessions would own a castle and sell tours on the side, the smart part of my brain scanned the restaurant for a portable defibrillator just in case my dear wife went into a state of hysterical cardiac arrest.

  I didn't get to use the defibrillator. Even though I'd really like the chance to.

  So now, even though the space is rather limited, my grey matter Rolodex has a card in it and the only thing on it is, Doukhobor Val. Because there is no such person, that I'm aware.

   The dumb part of my brain is also wondering if the Duke of Agryll could also be the Master of Fancy Socks?

  ..........I think I better add that to his Rolodex card.