"After the first glass of absinthe you see things as you wish they were. After the second you see them as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world."—Oscar Wilde
Several years ago, Loretta and I—along with our friends John, Roxanne, Ron, and Judie—attended the shipboard wedding of our friend Sarah. After the wedding, the six of us had elected to remain on board with the bridal party for a three day cruise to Ensenada. Because there is not much to do on a cruise ship but drink (and because it was us), we made a point of visiting every bar on the ship. Later, we had commemorative tee-shirts made:
In Ensenada, because, again, there is not much to do but drink (and, again, because it was us), we soon found ourselves a bar—La Taberna—where we were served by a friendly and attentive waiter named Jesus. After a couple of rounds of margaritas, I ordered a glass of absinthe—The Green Fairy. I was curious about it. For years it was banned in many countries, because, as one critic put it, "It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country."
So naturally I had to try it.
|Jesus Prepares the Green Fairy|
I don't know about ferocious beasts, martyrs, or degenerates, but absinthe tastes terrible. You have to mix it with water and sugar to make it even remotely palatable, and then it still tastes like paint thinner.
Once we were back on board the ship and I had begun to sober up, I realized that something had changed. Since our visit to La Taberna, I was able to see things more clearly without my glasses than with them. In fact, trying to see with my glasses gave me such a headache that I eventually quit wearing them.
I had heard about the supposed hallucinogenic properties of absinthe. Could it also affect eyesight? Or was it simply the quantity of alcohol I had consumed over the course of the weekend? I had heard of drinking yourself blind—was it possible to drink yourself into improved vision?
Or maybe it had something to do with the fact that our waiter was named Jesus.
I wasn't ruling anything out.
It wasn't until we returned to Long Beach that the mystery was solved. When I went to attach the magnetic clip-on sunglasses I had left in the car, I discovered that what I had thought were my glasses were, in fact, not. I immediately realized what had happened. Ron and I had been sitting across from each other at La Taberna. I have since noticed that, when we are eating or drinking, we are both in the habit of taking off our glasses, which are nearly identical in appearance, and laying them on the table. (I'm not sure why, unless we're both afraid of missing our mouths and smearing our glasses with food and drink.)
Obviously, we had picked up the wrong glasses.
"Ron," I asked, "Are you by any chance wearing my glasses?"
"I wondered why I couldn't see anything!" exclaimed Ron (who was driving at the time).
So here's a word of advice if you're thinking of trying absinthe: don't. However, if you insist on sampling the Green Fairy—
Make sure you know where your glasses are.