It Hardly Matters

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Birth of the Blue Hawaiian

No matter how pretty you are, when you ask a bartender if they have Blue Curacao, they always look at you like they want to strangle you.

In 1997, my best friend and I were relatively newly-minted members of the drinking-aged population. We had survived three years of high school together, drinking wine coolers behind Kevin Jackson's house or warm beers from a 30-pack that Joe Mangone's older brother bought for us. But, being AP students and closeted goody-goodies, we never went to bars together because possessing a fake ID seemed somehow much more morally reprehensible than hovering over a 4-pack of Bartles & Jaymes near a firepit, hoping one of the borderline retarded boys we scrounged up to hang out with would ask us to the prom. You see, we were pretty and smart, so we were all but invisible at our high school, where in order to be popular (or even accepted), you had to choose one or the other. We were just waiting for college, where we were pretty sure we'd be appreciated and popular, equally comfortable with 4.0s and 40s.

That pretty much happened, thankfully, and although she was in Chicago and I in Boston, we faithfully wrote each other letters (how quaint!), hers detailing the Spring Formal and organic chemistry exams, mine extolling the virtues of Lansdowne Street and 20th-century British poetry. We worked at remaining best friends, taking every opportunity to visit one another and to plan overlapping trips back to Happy Holden (see previous post). On one of these occasions (Christmas, maybe), we made plans to Go Out. We had recently received the go-ahead from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles to drink legally, which we had done with our college friends, but never together. I borrowed my mother's sporty two-door, picked her up, and drove our overly mascara-ed selves to Boston for a night on the town.

I think one of us was wearing a skintight faux-snakeskin rayon short-sleeved mock turtleneck. In fact, I know one of us was, I just can't remember which of us, because we both had one. Anyway, we looked cute, for 1997. We decided to try the Wonder Bar, a swanky anomaly in Rock City (aka Allston, Mass.) where my ex-boyfriend happened to work. We were looking for a free drink.

We sat down, said hello to Sean, and beamed at each other. We were grown-up fabulous women at a posh joint ordering posh cocktails. Take that, Everyone Else from Our High School! (They were all still drinking in the woods.) We discussed what to order. She liked Scotch, me, gin. But we wanted to order the same thing, to commemorate our maiden outing. Wine? Nah. Vodka cranberry? Boring. Beer? We were too dressed up for beer. The waitress came over and my best friend asked her if she "had any suggestions for a festive girly drink." She looked at us, and uttered two words that we had both certainly heard alone, but never together: "Blue Hawaiian." We had no idea what it was, but we glanced at each other, and nodded and said enthusiastically, "Sure!"

The drinks looked like pint glasses of windshield wiper fluid garnished with pineapple rounds and maraschino cherries on red plastic swords. Perfection. We clinked glasses, already drunk with giddiness, and sipped the blue liquid through bendy straws. We had found Our Drink.

That night, we shared a bottle of champagne with some guy named Chuck and his vest-wearing friend, slept on my ex-boyfriend's futon, drove over a parking median, and took pictures of our blue tongues. Since that night, my best friend and I have shared Our Drink at O'Hare Airport, various swing bars in San Francisco (swing dancing--give me a break, it was the late 90's in San Francisco), the Jillian's in Worcester, Mass., downtown Chicago lounges, various swanky New York bars, and a few pubs in London. We had figured out what was in Our Drink, and when we went out, would scan the rails for that florescent blue bottle with the gold lettering. We rarely found it, but when we did, we saw each other in our rayon shirts and blue tongues, shared a secret smile, thanked God for Blue Curacao, and for each other, then gave the bartender extra-luminous smiles as we placed the weirdest drink order of his night.


  • And wore it with some sort of misguided pride.
    I heart you, I heart our drink, I heart a blue tongue.

    I need to go finish my plastic museum in the Stahhhhh mahket pahking lot.


    By Anonymous I owned a rayon snakeskin shirt, at 8:53 AM  

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