Last Sunday night, when Spot was just finishing an evening libation—two fingers of Bushmills, which he always drinks neat—Spot almost choked when he read this from the online version of Katie's Monday column about a college reunion she recently attended:
We came to play together but, more importantly, to talk. To jump-start our discussion, we had agreed on an "assigned reading": "On the Shortness of Life," by the ancient Roman philosopher Seneca. At our invitation, a beloved professor, now retired, joined us. We hoped he would share his wisdom.
During the day, we puffed up hiking trails and tried to outwit the trout in a nearby stream. At night, we broke out the Bushmills Irish whiskey and tackled the Big Questions.
Before we get into the column, boys and girls, a couple of things need to be made clear. First, when ones goes trout fishing, especially in the West, the whiskey to drink is bourbon, preferably Jack Daniel's. Perhaps the worm drowners drink something else, but Spot would scarcely know that. Second, if you have to try to "outwit" a trout, you are a dullard indeed. Trout have an IQ of about 6. You may startle them with artless casting or wading, or you may fail to present a tidbit they happen to be interested in at the time, but it's hardly a battle of wits.
Now that we have disposed of Katie as a sportswoman, Spot thought he would imagine what one of Katie's conversations on the porch with her school chums might have sounded like:
Katie: I wish I had caught a fish.
Bernadette: Maybe you will tomorrow. It's only been three days.
Angela: Yeah, don't be so hard on yourself! Anybody could have fallen in the water a half a dozen times and spooked the trout.
Katie: Thanks; I appreciate that. Well, shall we get down to business?
Katie: Yes. Remember the book I assigned, er, asked you each to read? You've put me off long enough! If I can't out fish you, maybe I can out talk you! Haha!
Bridget: [muttering] There's little doubt about that.
Bridget: Oh, nothing.
Prudence: We've all come a long way since our days at St. Mary's. Haven't we?
Bridget: [snorting] Boy, that's true. Nine females sitting around moping; that's so different from college.
Katie: But look what we've done to come full circle! Well, that's not exactly what I meant.
Bridget: Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Multiple husbands. Ungrateful kids. Years of analysis. For what? A dorm room with a better view!
Angela: Pipe down you two. You'll wake Sister Mary Elephant, I mean Sister Mary Elizabeth.
Bernadette: Whose idea was it to bring her?
Bridget: It was Katie's, of course. Fifty plus years old and she brings a chaperone. Jesus.
Katie: You always were the rebellious one, Bridget. And don't take the Lord's name in vain.
Bridget: And you always were the beady-eyed evangelist.
Prudence: Knock it off, both of you! You two could never get along after - - -
Katie: Bridget stole my first boyfriend. I'm glad he left you, Bridget, you trollop. You deserved it.
Bridget: You're damn lucky I took that cipher off your hands, Katie.
Prudence: My! Aren't we supposed to be talking about how short life is?
Angela: It doesn't seem like time is exactly flying by right now.
Bernadette: In general it does, though. I can remember my folks saying how the years sped by when I was a kid, but I didn't believe it. Now I know it's true.
Bridget: Bernie, do you know what a platitude is?
Bernadette: Of course I do. That doesn't mean it's not true.
Bridget: Or obvious.
Angela: Bridget have you been drinking?
Bridget: Of course. How else do you expect me to get through this wretched bonding ritual?
Angela: Bridget, you always did like the sauce. What have you got?
Bridget: Sacramental wine.
Angela: Oh, come on! You wouldn't know where to get that if you wanted it.
Bridget: All right. It's Bushmills. I'll pass the bottle around on one condition.
Prudence: What's the condition?
Bridget: That Katie take the first swig, a big one. Otherwise, nobody gets any.
Katie: I don't know that I - - -
The others: (in a chorus) Katie, you have to!
Katie: Well, I guess one swig won't hurt.
Bridget: Remember, a big one. I'm not kidding.
Katie: What? You think I can't do it? Gimmie the bottle. (takes a long pull on the whiskey bottle, her eyes growing large)
Bernadette: Katie, are you okay? You look a little funny.
Katie: (composing her words carefully) I'm fine. But I think I need to take a little wok.
Angela: Suit yourself. But it's dark out there. Be careful.
(The other women share the bottle of Bushmills and engage in animated conversation. They hear the sound of Katie retching in the bushes.)
Bridget: Never could hold her liquor.
Sister Mary Elizabeth: Is everything all right out there?
Prudence: Oh, yes, sister. We're sorry to wake you. We'll be quieter. Good night.
Sister Mary Elizabeth: Good night my lambs.
(There is the sound of a large object falling into the water, followed by a piercing scream.)
Prudence: Katie fell in the creek! Come on, everybody. We have to save her! You too, Bridget.
Bridget: Okay. But it's only a foot and a half deep, for crying out loud.