February 14

In an impulse, he had asked her out for a couple of drinks and she had said yes. After all, she had always wanted to know what the fuss about alcohol was all about, but she had also wanted to enjoy his company that evening. She was wearing a black silk blouse with a pair of formal trousers sans makeup. She was dressed for work and she didn’t have time to change into something casual. She remembered how conscious she was of what she wore, how she looked, the little messenger bag that hung across her chest. She had followed him up the tiny flight of stairs that led to the best pub in the city. That was what he had told her and she had believed it. She had noticed from his mannerisms that he knew his way around a place like that.

She had sat next to him, slightly turned towards him to avoid looking at the crowd around her. “What would you like to drink?” he had teased her. She had sensed an excitement in his voice. It had been their ‘first date’.

“You know best and I’ll trust your judgement. I just don’t want to go home drunk. That’s all!” she had said with one eyebrow raised.

“I’ll have a JD blue neat and the lady will have sex on the beach!” he had ordered drinks. She had flushed in embarrassment listening to the order that he had placed and he had burst into peels of laughter. “It’s the name of a cocktail!” he had assured her and they had a good laugh over it together. When the bartender had left with their order, he had told her about the little tricks that won the attention of the bartender which translated to great service and drinks. “It starts with asking them their name,” he had whispered. “If you don’t know anything about alcohol and if you have a lady friend with you, you’d be in trouble,” he had continued. The loud music began to drown in his voice. Everything around was beginning to disappear; it was just two people at a table. She had noticed the change. He didn’t look any more like the cherub who made her laugh through the day.

“Here’s your JD, sir and your sex on the beach, ma’am,” the bartender had said and had left them with their drinks and laughter. She smelled the concoction and he had been amused by it.

“Go on, take a sip, and tell me how you like it,” he had nudged her.

“I can already tell by the smell of it that it tastes bitter and I’m not sure I will like it,” she had cringed.

“Nobody falls in love with alcohol at first sip like the way any man will fall in love with your eyes. The taste is acquired. It grows on you. Then, you begin to enjoy and appreciate it.”

With that advice, she had taken her first sip and all she could taste was bitter fluid. How did people drink this so willingly? How did people spend so much money on this only to throw it all up? She slowly had placed the glass back on the table. Did she make the mistake of accepting his invite to go for drinks? How was she possibly going to avoid that sex on the beach? She had picked the glass up again and had gulped it all down. Phew! She had felt so relieved but a few minutes later, she had begun to feel light in her head. She smiled crookedly and her hands had felt sloppy. So this is how it starts feeling when the first dose of alcohol goes in. She remembered how she felt.

“I feel a buzz!” she had confessed.

“Here’s your second drink,” he had pushed the next glass of that concoction towards her. He had ordered a second round of drinks for the two of them, while she was busy thinking and carefully analysing her response to her first shot of alcohol.

“What? A second one? That’s another 45 ml vodka!” she had protested.

“No, darling. This is another 60 ml vodka mixed neatly with tangy fruit juices. From the looks of it, I know you enjoyed it for all its bitterness. I promise you won’t wobble your way back home!” he had said. She remembered those words so well.

This time, she had drunk it neatly and he had been pleased to see her pick up the art of drinking quickly. The second drink became a third and a fourth until he had leaned close to her to whisper in her ears that he loved her, instead, he had kissed her lightly when she least expected it. She had often heard that alcohol made man confess his gravest of sins. It is true indeed, she had thought.

Years later when she sat sipping whiskey she still remembered how she liked the taste of it best on his lips.

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