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Finalist in the Santa Fe Writer's Project Literary Awards, Eric Hoffer First Horizon Awards, Reader's Favorite Awards and Indie Excellence Awards

The Day Ed’s Vodka Froze

Ed and his vodka had often posed a problem for me, one I’d tried to solve in various more or less successful ways over the years. Way back when Ed was 63 and I was only 26, and we’d been together for about a year, Freddie came down from Toledo for a long weekend. We were gabbing away and giggling as sisters often do while we drove through Eden Park on our way to Ed’s place. The air conditioner was blasting on high, trying to overcome the fierce August heat that had been making everyone miserable for several days.

On the drive I mentioned to her my concerns about Ed’s drinking. Even back then I thought he drank too much, although in retrospect, his consumption at the time was moderate by comparison.

“You know, Freddie,” I said, turning slightly toward her, “I’ve started keeping track of the amount in the bottle. Sure enough, the levels are going down a lot faster than I think reasonable.”

Freddie looked at me with an expression that conveyed disapproval, so I tried to justify my snooping.

“I’ve talked to him about it, Freddie, but every time he insists that he drinks ‘little – very little’. Talk alone isn’t going to help, and so I’ve been watering down his vodka.”

She looked at me sternly and shouted, half serious and half joking, “Marie, that’s horrible! You shouldn’t trick him like that!”

She was right, of course, but that’s what I was doing anyway.

Shortly after my confession we arrived at the Edgecliff. Freddie, wearing pink Capri pants, a matching pink tank top, white bejeweled flip-flops, dainty earrings and assorted other jewelry, and I, dressed in my usual uniform of worn jeans, a tee shirt, and old tennis shoes, went up to the ninth floor, where Ed welcomed us. Our dress was but a symbol of the enormous difference between us. Freddie was concerned about her appearance. I cared very little about mine. I loved intellectual banter; Freddie wanted to socialize and preferred small talk. But over the years we had figured out a way to remain close despite our differences.

Once Ed had let us in, I plopped down on the sofa, Freddie daintily sat down beside me, and Ed took a seat in his fake leather recliner. We began making light conversation and somehow the issue of vodka arose.

“I have to tell you an unbelievable event that happened the day before yesterday,” Ed announced. “I got out of the fr-r-reezer my vodka to pour a drink and guess what? It was f-r-r-rozen!”

Freddie and I immediately figured out why. We stole a quick glance at each other and each saw the other was struggling to keep from bursting into laughter. After all, how would we explain to Ed why we were laughing so hard? We didn’t dare look at each other.

Ed continued, his voice becoming more energetic, “I have kept in the fr-r-reezer my vodka all my life and it has never fr-r-rozen.”

To hear him tell it, it was as though hell itself had frozen over.

“So I just put it in the ‘oh-ven’ to ‘taw’ it out!” he said with an air of finality.

This made us want to laugh even harder, but somehow we managed to hold it in.

A little while later we left to go back to my house. When we reached my car, we let loose and laughed so hard tears were streaming down our faces and we were literally doubled over. Every time we managed to stop laughing one of us would start again and then the other would, too.

For many years after, Freddie and I would laugh at the memory. Ed never did figure out why his Popov froze, but after that I put in less water, and as far as I know it never happened again.