Sweet n Spicy BBQ Chicken Sub W/ Cheddar Bacon + Red Onion

I’m having a drink. You know where I am. Sometimes, these days, I’m not sure what I’d do without the Penny and my list. It’s become, in a way, like having a job, a place to go to. A purpose. I know, that sounds ridiculous, drinking my way through a list of liquor is like having a job, but it gives some structure, at least to write about, and a respite from the continuing saga of random experiences that I have no explanation for.

I’m at my usual table when I’m alone, in the back of the room, not that the back of the room is much more private than any other table in any other part of the Penny. The Big Guy picked a drink off the list and brought it to me without any discussion. He seems to know that when I’ve got my notebook open and my pen out that I’m not interested in any discussion of the merits of one spirit over the other. Funny that they refer to liquors as spirits, I never thought of that. Funny, yeah, Ha Ha.

(Note to self: When I’m back at my desktop computer, look up the reason they call liquors spirits.)

(Later note to self: After returning to my desk and Googling this question, I found there are a number of reasons for the etymology of the word. I will enter the discussion at the end of this post. It is actually germane, which is frightening as well as interesting.)

As you might imagine, I have been getting comments and emails about these experiences, mostly of the variety: “What the F is going on, Al!?” I can’t really answer this type of question because I don’t really know what the F is going on!, beyond what I’m reporting here. I know most of you think I’m just screwing around with you, but I’m not. I have a feeling that as long as I’m able to keep this authorial distance I’ll be OK. So, back to the notebook. (My daughter Leah buys me these cool Japanese school notebooks that are really beautiful. I’m a notebook whore, having bought blank journals and notebooks over many years, and even made some of my own. After I’m dead, my children will find shelves of these books; I counsel tossing them all in the trash as 99% of the entries and material therein are the jottings of a perfectly normal nature, doodles, grocery lists, lists of books I have recently read or want to read, some attempts at diary-keeping, but mostly just thoughts that sometimes flicker into my head.

This week…

I called Jason Longwell of Longwell Construction. I was told they are the local guys you hire if you are having problems with your house’s understructure. Jason, a small, whip-thin guy, looked like he was not only able to crawl around tight spaces underneath old houses, but that he actually relished it. He listened to my story, not the story about something being under my house, but my story about the various structural problems that had been noted by the inspector when we bought the house. Problems that we had ignored.

“Pillars breaking down, possible asbestos contamination, animal activity, and anything else that might cause the house to fall in?” he said.

“It sounds fairly dire when I hear it coming from you,” I said. How much is this going to cost me, I thought.

The original idea, Mark’s idea, was to get a guy over here to go under the house and see if there was, what? Some sort of abnormal activity going on? Anything strange. I felt a surge of guilt. “You know there’s a lot of bugs under there,” I said. And ghosts, I thought.

He gave me a look that I’ve been on the receiving end of plenty of times since I moved south. The look said, oh shut up, you don’t have a clue about bugs, crawlspaces or much of anything else. Most of the time I deserve the look.

“I’m not going under there today,” Longwell said, “Not dressed like this.” He was wearing jeans, boots, and a t-shirt. “I’ll check it from the outside.” He went around the exterior of the ground floor. It turns out there were two entrances of the low wooden door variety on each side, entrances I hadn’t noticed before, plus the main access area where the heating unit is. I tagged along, tying to see around him as he crouched down at the entry doors and shined his flashlight into the interior. His flashlight was much bigger than mine. Finally he stood up and dusted himself off.

“You’ve definitely got some problems under there, but I’ll have to get closer before I can give you any sort of a price about making things right.” He must have taken pity on my new expression, which no doubt said: Go easy on me, I’m a pensioner. Donald Trump is taking away all my safety nets.

“Mr. Appel, I could go under any of the old houses in Hillsborough and find at least a dozen problems that need repair. Does that mean you have to do them all? No. It doesn’t even mean you have to do any of them. You’re going to pay me $100 to tell you what you should do, what you might consider doing, not what you have to do. You decide that on your own.”

I made an appointment for him to come back in a couple of days and investigate. He said he would give me a detailed report. I felt guilty knowing that I was probably not going to take him up on any further services; paying him his $100 fee when he was done would make me feel better. And him as well, I would imagine.

Back at the Lead Penny. The bourbon I was drinking, Noah’s Mill, dragged me away from my notebook. I looked it up on my phone and found it clocked in at 114.3 proof; no wonder it demanded attention. I liked it; readers of these pages know I prefer the higher-octane liquors, especially those, like this one, which had additional excellent flavors. I made a mental note to order it again when I was through with my list and had rejoined the ranks of pleasure-drinkers.

Now back at home in front of my computer typing up my notes from my notebook… As promised at the beginning of this entry, I looked up the reasons the word “spirit” has come to refer to alcohol. I’m going to mashup several articles and carve it down to manageable length. Here you go.

“Most believe the word “alcohol” originated in the Middle East since the prefix al is a definite article in Arabic–the debate is about which word it stems from, either al-koh’l or al-ghawl. This is the most straightforward way to link alcohol and spirits, as the word means spirit. The Qur’an–verse 37:47 mentions al-ghawl to refer to a demon or spirit that produces intoxication.

The word also translates as “ghoul.” (!!!!) ((That’s me adding the exclamation marks.))

“This may be a credible theory, as The Oxford English Dictionary lists al-koh’l as the origin for “alcohol.” It notes the word was incorporated into the English language during the sixteenth century. During that same century, “spirit” began to be used to refer to the intoxicating beverage.” And this from another article… “The word “Alcohol” comes from the Arabic “al-kuhl” which means “BODY EATING SPIRIT,” and gives root origins to the English term for “ghoul.” In Middle Eastern folklore, a “ghoul” is an evil demon thought to eat human bodies, either as stolen corpses or as children.” So there you have it, make of it what you will. I’d be happy to see comments if anyone has an opinion on how the two words – alcohol and ghoul – became linked.


Later that afternoon I tracked down the elusive Rafe.


5 thoughts on “Sixteen

  1. There’s a sign at a little shop here on Island that says “licensed to sell intoxicated liquor ” .
    I’m really curious about those Japanese notebooks even tho’ I’m pretty faithful to Moleskins.

    Allen…….you are gooood.


  2. Actually my main notebook for many years is Field Brand Moleskins are nice but Field is cheaper and I really beat the shit out of them because I carry one in my back pocket all the time. I also get bored with Moleskins and Field has many colors, styles and designs to choose from and they’re always bringing out new ones. I also keep a flat pen in the notebook. They’re hard to find but I can usually buy them at a Barnes and Noble store in the gift section. I call them book reviewer pens because I can use them as a book marker in the book I’m reading for review and I need to keep notes in the margins. You can sometimes find the Japanese student notebooks in asian grocery stores.


    1. Oh wow………I’m in trouble now, great website, thank you! I know those flat pens, they come in many colours too…..still have some laying around that my Husband bought long time ago.


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