The bottle fell from the top shelf of my fridge, and the explosion of its carbonated contents was so loud when it hit my granite floor, I wondered if my neighbors would think it was a gunshot. It would probably be good if they came running, because the blood is going to start any second, I thought. Palm sized hunks of glass lay on top of my feet, smaller pieces were wedged between my toes and between the soles of my feet and my flip-flops. I knew the phone was behind me on the kitchen counter just a little more than an arm's reach away. But the blood didn't come. Not even a scratch. Just organic peach cider streaming down my bare legs and pooling on the floor. Little green bits of glass peppering my kitchen the way sand glints at the beach on a sunny day. After the sigh of relief I swore for at least a solid minute as I dropped my apron and two dish towels to stem the expansion of the sticky lake.
I had 10 dinner guests arriving in less than an hour. My kitchen counter was lined with scrubbed zucchini and mushrooms waiting for the grill. The soup was bubbling in a pot on the stove; sweet potatoes were lined up on the bottom rack of my oven while two loaves of bread, a pat of butter between each slice, waited their turn. I lifted each foot and removed the flip-flops to shake out the loose pieces of glass, and put the shoes on again to get to the sink. I felt a little guilty about kitchen hygiene as I rinsed them, but the food prep was done, and it seemed like the best way to be sure about the glass.
I'm not sure how many times I swept, vacuumed, and scrubbed my floor. Bucket after bucket of water. Windex. Granite cleaner. I got rid of the stickiness just in time to change my clothes and get the veggies onto the grill before the first guests arrived.
The food turned out very well; the patio was lovely in the early evening light--just dim enough to appreciate the candles, but not too dark to marvel at the hydrangeas, the golden bougainvillea, and the yellow, orange, and peach colored roses. In addition to my big teak table, I'd hauled my upholstered dining room chairs outside and set up a folding table. Tablecloths and place-mats, china and crystal (since the divorce, I have no "everyday" dishes.) What a perfect night after all--a great book (Invisible Man) and good conversation, I thought, slicing into my portobello. We'd just agreed that we'd start our formal discussion after the dishes were cleared. I was loading the dishwasher. People were setting out the New York-style cheese cake and the ice cream. "Oh--and there's bourbon!" I said.
Then it started to rain. Not just a mist or a drizzle. Rain. Thunder and lightning.
I used to worry a lot about dying. A car crash. A plane crash. Slipping and falling while hiking in the mountains. Being eaten by a bear or a shark. I'm not much of a worrier any more--but something tells me I should be more careful around liquids.
That didn't keep me away from the bourbon while I cleaned up after the party. But I was very careful while pouring my two or three little shots from the glass bottle.
My local neighborhood market had a nice selection of bourbon, so I chose a brand called Bulleit--"Kentucky Frontier Whiskey." My dad's grandfather came to this country from Scotland and settled in Kentucky. My dad was a Scotch drinker himself. I like gin. I wanted to buy some sloe gin at the market because the "invisible man" mentions in the prologue that he likes vanilla ice cream with sloe gin poured over it, and book club dinner menus reflect the food in the current book. But I couldn't find any sloe gin on the shelf. They had a lot of highbrow stuff--my two favorites--Hendricks and Boodles. But no bottle of the red stuff I remember from high school era evening drives into cornfields. "Do you have any sloe gin?" I asked a six-foot tall blond who looked like she should be a super model instead of a grocery store clerk. She laughed. I laughed. "Too low-brow?" I asked.
"They don't even have that stuff at Vons or Ralphs anymore," she said. "You have to go to BevMo." Some things just escape me. Ooohhh. BevMo is the low-brow booze place? You couldn't have proved it by me. Sometimes I feel like the invisible woman here in my kinda swanky neighborhood in the big city.
Nobody knows who I was. Or who I really am.