By Doug Herron, Becketwood Member
A martini is my favorite alcoholic beverage, so eight years ago when walking by the gazebo on a warm afternoon, I was seduced by the sound of ice being shaken in a metal canister. Inside the pagoda savoring his drink and smoking a smelly cigar was John Fenn. I asked if I could join him in libation sipping exercises, then I went home to fetch my Bombay Sapphire, Noilly Prat shaker filled with ice and an olive.
Two months later, Jerry Nordstrom showed up with an attractive shaker filled with his own favorite gin. Jerry told us his wife Julie prompted him to join us, because although he had many friends at Becketwood she felt he needed closer male friends. It wasn’t long before Jerry instituted our first rule. We were to toast at 4 p.m. Not wanting to miss a fragile and full glass clink, all three of us were consistently punctual.
Somehow Jeanette Milgrom felt our gin group needed integration. Jeanette, we later learned, was once recognized as Minnesota’s social worker of the year. Tops in the state!
With four people and occasional visitors we had excellent conversations. They were more important to us than the imbibing. We discovered that as many as eight people could have good discussions on a wide variety of topics. From that experience emerged a few rules. Jeanette became our enforcer.
Our loud laughter on Monday afternoons attracted others to what seemed to be a welcoming cocktail party where people could enjoy wine, beer, and Cokes. No other martini aficionados emerged. The original club lost its panache for me. I became so dissatisfied with the new experience that I told John of my plans to drop out of the club. After hearing my plaint, John said, “I don’t care what they drink. They can drink cough syrup as far as I am concerned, as long as it is in a stemmed glass.”
I thought about that for a moment and decided that I, too, didn’t care what they drank as long as we maintained the ambiance of stemmed glasses. Soon thereafter a lady showed up with chocolate milk in a martini glass. She didn’t come again, however.
The martini salon has three rules, Jeanette consistently reminds us. (1) Our drinks of whatever are to be sipped from stemmed glasses. (2) To focus conversation, only one person speaks at a time. This way everyone can hear, and (3) One can talk about their health problems for up to one minute, then we move on. The 4 o’clock toasting time has been lost as more people come whenever they can (including the originals).
Jerry passed away a couple of years ago, and Jeanette is moving to Episcopal Homes. So it is time for the Martini Salon to morph.