Your Guiding Spirits


By Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown

Once again, we recently celebrated another milestone in our family with our daughter’s college graduation last month. And, once again, I found myself in a situation of trying to assume the air of parental responsibility and think of some advice, some words of wisdom to pass along to her as she was about to commence the next step of her life journey.

I was looking for something to say that she hadn’t already heard a million times before, something that was profound but not trite, something that would resonate with where she is at this time in her life and that she would be able to draw on when she needed it most.

I was mulling over all of this one relaxing evening as I was sipping my gin and tonic, listening to the cool jazzy sounds of Julie London, and in the mood to contemplate life and ponder the larger questions. Needless to say, this was definitely not the tonic I needed at this emotional time and the only thing that came to me was a feeling of sadness at how fast time goes by. I decided that the old saying about gin making you weepy must be true after all, even though I never felt that way before. Maybe it was the combination of the melancholy sound of Julie London singing “Cry Me a River” coupled with the gin that led me to, in fact, cry her a river in my drink. It was not the happiest of hours. I called it a night and went to bed.

The next evening when cocktail hour rolled around I made sure to change the mood and put on some Latin/west coast cool jazzy music of Antonio Carlos Jobim that always makes me feel like fun and had my husband mix me up a little bubbly champagne cocktail. Mixology is very important, I feel. You’ve got to plan the music and the drinks that you are mixing together. Fizz and Jazz is a perfect pairing. When you are feeling a little blue, sipping a little bubbly along with the rhythm of a jazzy Latin beat pulsing over the speaker makes you feel a whole lot better than crying into your G&T to a sad song. Beware the bubbles though, because they can go to the head pretty fast. And, I was definitely feeling like a bubbly blonde when it all went to my head. It seemed that that was all that went to my head because not one good idea came to my mind to offer guidance to my graduating daughter. (As a side note—some people have found that being able to claim a “not tonight dear” headache is a positive side effect of champagne bubbles going to the head.)

The more I sipped to the sounds of Jobim and thought about it, the more I thought that this might be just the right kind of motherly advice to pass along to a daughter who was about to be truly living on her own as an adult for the first time. After all, gin will lead you down one path, and champagne another, and tequila, beer, wine and all the other spirits guide you in their own way. It’s good to know the difference and be aware. So, here was my advice:


Vodka martinis coupled with Dean Martin and The Rat Pack crooning over the sound system can definitely make you want to stay up all night. Save it for a weekend night cocktail party celebrating with close friends.

Sipping a glass of a nice little red cabernet on Italian night while you’re making spaghetti and meatballs for your Romeo is always a nice evening in, and is even better with Andrea Boccelli softly romancing you with his beautiful voice.

Then there is tequila! All I can say is “Arriba, Abajo, Al Centro, Al Dentro!” You must not wait for Cinqo de Mayo to have your margaritas. Although it is a lot of fun with Mexican food and a Mariachi band. As for shots, I have only ever done them with my children, so you do have to watch who you are hanging around with when you are drinking…you might wind up wearing a Mexican tablecloth as your poncho! Make sure you do not have to go to work the next day.

I don’t drink beer, so I can’t offer any thoughts on that except to say keep it light. But then, of course, she has just finished college so she already knows all about that. And, of course, you have to have the country music tunes to pair with that drink choice. Since beer is not my drink I am not sure how you’re gonna feel with this combo. I hope it doesn’t lead you to crying over being hung-up on somebody or hungover about somebody.

There are more drink-and-music pairings than I have ever heard of, but this gives you the idea. Choosing the right ones can have real life consequences and affect your feelings and actions and, depending on which ones you choose, the choice can determine what path you take in life, or at least for the night. The spirits will guide you—listen to them and choose wisely. I’ll drink to that. Cheers to the college graduate!

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