Once Upon Some Tastes

Dear Tracy,

Are you talking about taste–that elusive measurement of class as well as, we hope, individual penchant and personality? A while ago, we read Carl Wilson’s glorious musings on Celine Dion‘s schmaltz. That was the first time I really considered taste as something beyond the residue of my own exquisite appetites — as, indeed, even something unconsciously insincere. Maybe this is different, though, since we’re trying to draw out how certain materials secure our identities dialectically. The idea of an originary essence or nature only seems to get me so far these days. The climax comes when what I thought made me so uniquely me comes up against–or, rather, beside–that which ultimately forces a change or rerouting of past defining tastes.

Over this winter holiday I developed a sudden infatuation with whiskey. Half a dozen of my tabs now open to sites on whiskey and its rather snobbish demands from its fine drinkers. I consider this “studying.” After much research, I decided on a gaelic whisky today (along with some drinking glasses–very pretty!) and had some with dinner. For one who rarely imbibes alcohol of any sort, it’s not my usual style. I currently feel a little lightheaded from the high percentage proof, but maybe tomorrow I will have whisky again with dinner. Maybe the night after that too. Or, then again, maybe not. Maybe it will, or maybe it won’t, become part of my running tastes.

Though, the glasses are lovely. And I like how the malt liquid floats on your tongue as though hesitant to get too close to that sensitive, judgmental organ. I like how unskillfully I hold it suspended at the back of my mouth before it spills down my throat and sends little strokes of warmth across my chest. I like how it makes me feel both very sophisticatedly old and very, very young.

Friends of mine were joking earlier about how I approach people at the liquor store with questions:

Me: “Where would one find the sherry? Or is it just everywhere?”

Him, with a half-smile: “Is it for cooking or drinking?”

Me: “Drinking.”

Him: “This is very dry; this is medium dry.”

Me: “What’s the difference really?”

And so on.

Oh right, and I bought some sherry too.

With love,


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