I’ve spent my fair share around Lutherans and drinking is accepted and even welcome - in moderation. Except for coffee, which they tend to drink excessively.
They may not necessarily encourage whiskey at afternoon lunch gatherings in their church hall, however. So when my extended family was having a reunion lunch at a Lutheran church, I decided to be discreet. Since I was traveling, I didn’t have a flask handy, but my bag was dark and had plenty of space, so I just brought a bottle – an entire bottle – of Buffalo Trace.
Lunch was BBQ. Perfect. I slipped into the kitchen and poured a couple of drams into some plastic cups – one for me and one for my uncle. And then a little later, one for my aunt. Just a touch of whiskey to share and toast the family properly.
The trouble began when I set my bag down on a chair to change my camera battery and somehow knocked it off the chair and underneath the table. I heard a sickening “crack” and saw liquid spreading quickly – a bottle minus three drams of whiskey – all over the church hall floor. Uff da. Or, as my uncle put it, “Busted.”
I ran for a couple of towels to collect the broken bottle while my mom, brother, and uncle gamely told anyone passing “it’s water” even though it obviously didn’t smell like water. While my uncle collected glass shards in a cup, I sopped up the mess as quickly as possible. Although I was sure the entire hall was staring at us, when I emerged from underneath the table, few people seemed to have even noticed. And the family at my table – who definitely knew – seemed mostly concerned that I had lost all my whiskey. Which is why I love them.
I certainly got a dose of Christian guilt, however, when during the slideshow of nice pictures of our well-behaved relatives, my great-uncle came to sit with us at our table. He was my grandma’s closest sibling out of 11 children, and he happened to be a member at the church. So there we were - my aunt, uncle, and I quietly sipping our whiskey next to him when the air conditioning went off and a sturdy smell of whiskey wafted up from the floor. I could feel the spirit of my grandma – example of social graces and least likely to knock a bottle of whiskey off a chair at church – slowly shaking her head…but maybe smiling just a little.
If god was with us, he had a bit of compassion – at least I got to pour myself a glass before I spilled the rest.
And lesson learned. Flasks were invented for a reason, and I will certainly be using one next time I need to attend lunch at a church.