And Now for Something Really Disturbing

Do you ever do something and then doubt your sanity? For years I’ve been collecting family images. I find them at the Virginia Historical Society, Library of Congress, old books, a shoebox from my grandmother, and ask for photos of portraits hanging in a relative’s foyer. So far, so good. This might be obsessive, but certainly productive. Everything was working perfectly. I’d find an image of Gen. Ambrose Powell Hill, attach it to a short bio, and voila, another leaf on the tree was articulated. In some instances, I could only find someone in a group photo such as the crew team at Harvard in 1914. But that was fine, as long as I could point out the right person.

Then something changed. Working on this one night after a rather grueling day and a couple of ginescas (Tanqueray and Fresca), I slipped into a disturbing place. I fixed the levels and color of the image, and then replaced my relative with a picture of myself. Okay, scary, I know. Then it seemed to become a bizarre art project. It’s not as easy as it seems. Modern lighting and cameras are very different than an image taken in 1880. Now it hasn’t gotten so bad that I’ve started recreating the lighting and shooting new images to drop in (although I did consider it). I can justify this in a couple of ways: first, I’m learning Photoshop techniques; second, it’s a “Cindy Sherman in history” art project. But I’m pretty sure this points to a tragic desire to retreat into the past.

Is Fresca and rum trashy?

Esquire Handbook for Hosts chapter divider

My grandmother had many rules about proper behavior, and what made people “good people” or “trash.” Here are a few:

1. Hang your blinds straight, only trash have crooked blinds.

2. A gentleman always removes his hat indoors, or in the presence of a lady, trash insists on rudely wearing their baseball caps inside.

3. A gentleman always wears a belt, or braces (suspenders).

4. A gentleman knows how to mix a good martini.

5. Young ladies do not pierce their ears. Bad girls do.

I try to abide by these rules and many of her others, although the ear-piercing rule is probably out of date. Unfortunately, I think I might fall out of line when it comes to Fresca.

Each year, we take a trip to Kona Village in Hawaii. Typically, we’ll make a run to Safeway to buy rum and mixers. The idea is to mix my own simple Mai Tai cocktails and save some money as opposed to buying them at the bar. At the beginning of the trip, I’ll stick to the plan, mixing pineapple and orange juice, and adding some lime. After a couple of days, this is typically too much trouble, and I switch to simply mixing the rum with Fresca. I know it sounds seriously trailer trash, but trust me, the “rumescas” are very good. You can also mix Fresca with gin (Tanqueray of Bombay, not the cheap brands that make you hungover). I call this the Ginesca. And for those who prefer vodka, it’s a perfect refreshing mixer. I'm calling this a Ruskie-esca.

I’d add recipes here, but there’s no need. Simply fill the highball glass ½ way with the liquor over ice then add the Fresca. Some may say this is too strong, but no, no, no, they’ll get used to it.

Esquire's Handbook for Hosts: substitute any mixer with Fresca

Funny tricks from the Esquire Handbook for Hosts

It's for kids, too.

Fresca can, 1971