“GET OUT THE ICE, BARBARA”

It was made evident to me this morning that my childhood memories are altogether different from what I thought I recalled.

Case in point: As a kid, when my father returned home from work, it was a happy moment. He’d swing through the garage door, call out “I’m home!” and call out the number of bales of cotton he had brokered that day at The now-defunct Cotton Exchange at 60 Beaver Street in NYC.

My mother would applaud the report inasmuch as it was directly tied to how much money would come in that month.

But then my father would say, “Get out the ice, Barbara!” and they would smile and we kids would applaud because this was the signal for our parents to begin the Cocktail Hour, a restricted to adults time of cheery chat and good vibes until…

…as often happened some negative emotions would creep in and occasionally it got emotionally dark.

As a child I had no idea that the cocktail hour and the cocktails contained therein were, for my family, the hidden causes for the negative emotions, resentments and occasional hurtful words directed almost exclusively at us.

As an adult who has wrestled with my own demons (DNA from John Barleycorn) I understand how quickly the shape shifting giddiness of the first two or three drinks can, with some of us, release the dogs of war for no apparent reason. Having been the witness to and participant in these experiments, I can now associate the sounds of crackling ice trays in the sink with the back end of the night:

Somebody is probably going to get hurt.