A blog of general comment by one of L.A.'s best known commentator/essayists. Humor, drama, pathos, satire and, well, everything else.
First published SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2008
Once upon a time there was a little Martini who always wanted to be a Mai Tai.
“I’m too short,” he cried to his parents one day. “Mai Tais are tall and elegant. I’m a squirt!”
“You’re young,” his daddy said. “Some day you’ll grow from a single to a double. Just give it time.”
“Mai Tai is young too,” the little Martini said, “and he’s already tall.”
“It’s just his mix,” his mommy said. “Some drinks are just naturally taller. But that doesn’t mean you’re any less important. Be proud of what you are.”
“You’re a Martini!” the daddy said proudly “We have a honorable history! Franklin D. Roosevelt favored us and so did Winston Churchill, two great leaders of the free world! We helped win the war! You have nothing to be ashamed of, Little Martini.”
“Remember Shot?” mommy said. “He certainly wasn’t tall! And now he’s a Double Shot and the star of some very sophisticated cocktail lounges. And you’ve got a lot more growing to do.”
Little Martini wasn’t satisfied. “Even when I grow up I won’t be tall,” he said. He turned to his daddy: “You’re not tall and mom isn’t tall! You don’t even look alike. How, come you don’t look alike?”
The parents glanced at one another. Their little Martini had reached the age when he was asking questions. They knew it would happen. It was time to tell him.
“Son,” the mommy Martini began hesitantly…
“Let me tell him,” daddy. “Son, your mother and I fell in love when we first met at a disco club in L.A. We knew our love was wrong, but the attraction was so strong that we…well…ignored the differences between us.”
His voice was beginning to choke, and he didn’t want to break down before his son so he gestured to his wife to take over.
She took a deep breath and said, “You’re the result of a mixed marriage.”
The husband spoke: “I’m gin and you mother is vodka. I’m straight up with a pimento olive, she’s on the rocks with a lemon twist.”
Little Martini stared at them open-mouthed. “Does that mean I’m going to die? My mixture is wrong?”
“No, of course not,” daddy said. “It only means you’re…well…different.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being different,” mommy said. “But others may not accept you. Half gin and half vodka just don’t mix.”
“Why did you do this?” little Martini demanded in tears. He turned to his father. “Why didn’t you just marry that tonicy woman you’re always talking about! She was our kind! Then I could be just straight gin!”
“It was your mother I loved, son. I never thought I’d feel that way about vodka, but I did. And I hear that there are more mixed marriages being performed across the country. Someday, no one will notice the difference between gin and vodka. We’ll be equals in the Barnes & Noble Book of Cocktails.”
Little Martini gave up trying to be a Mai Tai. Rum just wasn’t in his blood. But the realization that he was different altered the course of his life. During his wild teenage years he turned into the worst kind of screwdriver. He was picked up twice for harassing martinis that favored onions and called themselves Gibsons. He served jail time for beating up a Cuba Libre.
His life was a mess. Both parents tried to get him into a psychomixologist but he refused, preferring instead a dissolute path toward self-destruction, loving and leaving a series of tawdry mixes and garnishes, never happy with anyone, spurning those who cared about him. Then one evening while working as a well drink in a Montana cowboy bar he spotted a Beer shooting pool. He was a tall, cool lager. It was love at first sight.
It was the kind of love that must not be spoken, but clearly it was deep and abiding. They moved in together in a duplex just outside of Butte and Little Martini openly declared himself a Cosmopolitan. His parents accepted his decision, glad that he was finally settling down, and loved it when the two adopted three babies also of mixed gin and vodka marriages that they called Betwinis, and they all lived happily ever after.
Al Martinez is a Pulitzer Prize winning essayist, former columnist for the Los Angeles Times, author of a dozen books, an Emmy-nominated creator of prime time television shows, a travel writer, humorist and general hell-raiser. Try him. He's addictive.
Joanne Cinelli Martinez is composed of artist, poet, gourmet chef, interior decorator, photographer, volunteer, and all around intelligent person; also the life long partner and care taker of the simple but happy little man who runs the blog. She views him with suspicion and uncertainty. It is a cautionary love story.