Thursday, February 14, 2013

Long Island Iced Tea Party

The following is my offering for Suze's False Start Valentine's Day event.  All participants - there are seven of us this time, plus our hostess - must supply a portion of manuscript, romance as theme.  For more info and to read other submissions, please visit Suze at Subliminal Coffee.  Here we go...
Photo via Science of Drink
I had no reason to expect the Long Island Iced Tea party would offer much beyond the usual drunken carousing.  I couldn’t have known she’d be there.  I didn’t know her yet.

Rumor had it Sandra was bringing a friend, one who lived in some tiny one-room apartment in Tokyo.  Such was my original mental image of Dani: a woman alone in an unfurnished tatami room, a single bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling.  Dani in the flesh was a bit more glamorous. She was well put-together: a horizontal-striped tank top, tight fit; an ankle-length, black skirt.  Her dark brown hair was cut short after a lifetime (I would later learn) of keeping it long.  Confident – maybe a little off her game in a room of strangers but ready to hold court once she had her footing. 

I met her in the drink-mixing room.  All of the booze and glassware were set up on a low kotatsu table – not much of a bar but you work with what you’ve got.  I’d been summoned to mix a bloody mary. TJ, an old southern boy at heart, handed me a Mason jar for the job.

I was surprised when Dani, not long after first introduction, moved to sit on my side of the table. I’m slow on the uptake when a woman shows interest, yet I knew she wasn’t merely curious about my mixological endeavors.  She moved to be next to me.  Well, hello…

“So, why’s he having you make it?”

“I’m good at Bloody Marys.”

“Are you a bartender?”

“No, I only know how to make one drink.  Bars never get them right.  TJ will order one, then let me fix it.”

            “What does ‘fixing it’ entail, exactly?”

“I like ‘em hot.  If it doesn’t set your mouth on fire, it’s not a Bloody Mary.  The best I ever had was at a Southern cuisine restaurant in Minnesota.”

“Minnesota?  Help me out.  My US geography is limited at this point.”

“Upper Midwest.”

“So, not exactly the Heart of Dixie.  Southern cuisine?”

“The restaurant was called Dixie’s, actually.  They loaded up the drink with vegetable garnishes and served a beer chaser alongside.  Without the extras to soak up some of the spice, it would have been undrinkable.”

“Sounds painful.”

“More like Heaven!  My mouth waters just thinking about it.”

“A Proustean-Pavlovian response.”  Realizing I don’t get the joke, she goes on, “I thought this was a Long Island Iced Tea party.  Do you make those, too?”

“We’ve got the ingredients.  I’ll give it a shot.”

“What goes in it?”

“A little bit of everything: vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec…”

“Any actual tea?”

“None whatsoever.”

“How do you manage the color?” eyeing someone else’s glass.


Long Island Iced Tea had become the drink of choice among our group, primarily because our regular bar in Yokohama made a fine one.  It’s a revolting concoction, truth be told, and potent.  I expect it was TJ who ordered the first one.  He raved.  We all followed suit.  It became a thing – as good an excuse for a party as any.


  1. This is excellent! I was so sad when I got to the end ... I really wanted it to continue. Do you have more beyond this? I love the ex-pats (or military?) in Japan scenario. So much to work with there.

    I never knew Long Island Iced Teas had no tea in them.

    1. You are very kind. This story has been rattling around in my head for nearly 16 years. I lived a lot of it. I've only recently started commiting it to print. Ex-pats, yes - non-military.

      I did have an earlier post with the same two characters, further along in the story, also spurred on by Suze. Here's the link:

      Thanks for your encouragement.

  2. No! I felt dropped off a cliff. Person whose name I do not know, are you going to let me read more?

    Smiled at: '“A Proustean-Pavlovian response.” Realizing I don’t get the joke, she goes on, ...'

    and almost heard your (narrator's) voice, gaining his own footing, at: ' “None whatsoever.” '

    Very smart, very polished and like a swimming pool at the right temperature -- easy to slide into.

    Scoots, it's time to keep going with this.

    1. Thanks for encouragement. This exercise has been useful. I've been a bit stumped by how to approach this project, but now I think I see the way. Now, must set aside the time.

    2. Here's to you seeing the way and setting aside time (lifts glass) Happy Valentine!

    3. Thank you, and Valentine greetings to you, too!

    4. It's good, friend. I know you got a nice fistful of confetti encouragement by posting this and I hope you find what you need to keep working.

    5. Thank you. And I hope so, too. Time, motivation and inspiration all at the same time - that's the real challenge, isn't it?

    6. It's not easy, this I can vouch for. But I do have faith in the stories that are 'supposed to' get out there doing just that.

      Have a super week, Binx.

  3. Using the words "drunken carousing" in the first sentence is always a good opening.

    1. Drunken carousing often leads to good stories - when you're young and resilient, that is. These days, the prospect of tomorrow's hangover is a powerful deterrent.

  4. I'll add my encouragement to continue, too! The vibe brought be back to the time I spent with the international students who gathered together to understand this strange foreign place called "Philadelphia." Expats from the opposite viewpoint behave very similarly, I can tell you.

    Smooth... like good Long Island Iced Tea. (Such a thing does exist!)

    1. Oh, I'm sure there are good LIITs out there. It was actually in Japan that I learned to steer clear of mixed drinks (for the most part) and stick to beer in wine. I still love a good Bloody Mary, though.

      Thank you for the encouragement!

    2. Make that beer AND wine. I'm pretty sure beer IN wine would be terrible.

  5. Beer in wine couldn't be nearly as disgusting as raw egg in beer. (Isn't that a drink?)

    Anyhow, great snippet here. Your characters and dialogue are well-crafted, and you've thrown in a healthy shot of humor. I'd order another round of this.

    1. Egg in beer is claimed by some as a hangover cure. I don't buy it. Apparently, there's also an expression, "egg in your beer" implying you have an advantage. The things you learn.

      Thanks for the encouragement, Susan!