A whiskey anecdote

When my father was a boy growing up in rural Blue Grass, Iowa, my grandfather had one rule about curfew:  You can stay out as late as you want, but you have to get up when I say.

All in all, my dad was a pretty good kid.  Did his homework.  Played nice.  Kept clean.  One night, though, he stretched his legs a little, stayed out having some fun, and didn’t come home until nearly morning.

Grandpa woke him up again before dawn.

Well aware of the rules, my dad could only relinquish his warm bed and get dressed and ready to follow orders.  Grandpa made sure he was up, then handed him a shovel.

Now, I want you to go outside, he said, and dig up two earthworms.

Well, my dad was a bit confused, as you can imagine, but he did as he was told, and when he had found two earthworms under the  soil, he came back inside to find my grandfather sitting silently at the kitchen table with two glasses.  One contained water; the other held a tall shot of bourbon whiskey.  He gestured for my dad to have a seat.

I imagine in this moment that my grandfather took his time getting around to explaining, letting my dad squirm a little like those worms he had dragged in, in the early morning light.  Finally, though, he told his son to put one of the worms in the cup of water.  He did, and the worm swam around calmly.

Then he gestured for the second worm to go into the glass of bourbon.  Dad followed his instructions, and the second worm writhed violently in the alcohol.

Now, what does that teach you? he asked.

Dad paused warily.

Grandpa didn’t let him panic too long.  He just looked at him with an honest face and said:

“If you drink whiskey, you’ll never have worms.”

Love you and your traditions, FWS.  You are missed.

Your girl,


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