Liam Finn/A Hot Nut

October 11, 2011

Two exciting things happened last Sunday night. One, I saw Liam Finn play at the Doug Fir. Two, I tasted my first “hot nut” shot.

Two not very exciting things were also true, unfortunately: one, it was not a weekend night, and two, I’m not 22 anymore. Still, it was totally worth the pain and struggle the next day.

First: Liam. This was the third show I’ve seen him play and each time I have been floored by the man’s raw talent, energy, ability to jump around on stage, thrash around on the drums with an uninhibited wildness, then turn around and nail a perfect guitar riff over and over. The son of Neil Finn (of “Crowded House” fame), Liam is one of the children of celebrities who makes his own name and is putting his own true spirit into his work. Plus, he has really amazing hair and a cute Kiwi accent. And in addition to the talented singer and percussionist Eliza Jane accompanying him on stage, he also had a full band this time – which meant double drumsets at times, and a solid bassline throughout. So good.

And second: a hot nut. My friend Matt explained that he was first introduced to the drink in Ohio, where he grew up and went to college.

Hot (Irish) Nut:

1 ounce Irish Cream
1 ounce Frangelico
1 ounce Amaretto
3 ounces Coffee

We drank the shots of hot coffee and Frangelico in a nostalgic moment for him. Warm and sweet, they launched us into a similarly warm and sweet show in the Doug Fir basement (along with some good ole PBR to round things out).

Here’s one of my favorite Liam songs:


I’m not quite sure how a 2010 wine is considered “vintage.” But whatever the case, my friend and I polished off a bottle of Gnarly Head Authentic Red last week over dinner in my apartment. A decent bottle of wine for under $10 and an enjoyable evening catching up with a good girlfriend. All sort of warmly cliche – that is, until the conversation spun to egg freezing and sperm banks.

My friend and I are becoming vintage in our own right; we’ve known each other for 14 years. We met when we were 18 and randomly assigned to a live together in a very, very small dorm room. We were roommates for three years total in college, and came to know each other well. Now, 14 years later, we’ve both landed in Portland, Oregon.

What 14 years means (in a very brief summary):

a) We’ve seen a lot of styles come and go. This includes: baggy flannel shirts, overalls, various body piercings, haircuts and hair colors, an array of music choices, and a multitude of (some good, some questionable) boyfriends.

b) A multitude of (some good, some questionable) jobs. More schooling. More jobs.

c) We voted in three presidential elections. We figured out how to use cell phones, text messages, smart phones, and Facebook. In the news: Princess Diana, 9/11, plenty of wars.

d) Parents and grandparents divorced or died, friends married, divorced, moved in with partners, bought homes, lost homes, had children, lost children, lived around the world, earned PhDs, survived cancer.

e) We’re both 32. And that also means we’re old enough to be moms. And not just moms of babies, but, like, we could have given birth to children who now would be teenagers. Yikes.

We are not the type of women who bemoan our “childless” status. In fact, we’re both women who haven’t always been (and maybe continue not to be) sure about the desire to have children at all. Still, from time to time somewhere in the back of any 30-something’s mind burns the question: will I, or won’t I, have kids?

So from here the conversation flowed (with the wine) something like this:

we could be moms –> sometimes people mistake us for being a child’s mom –> we could always freeze our eggs for later like good career-minded women do –> would you ever consider artificial insemination? is that selfish? what about adoption? how about adopting a dog first and seeing how that might go? –> men can donate sperm and never know how many or who their children are, and that is bizarre –> how much money can a guy make doing that? and how easy is it to donate sperm? –> what about donating eggs? could we make some cash doing that? and would we have to stop drinking in order to donate eggs?

It seems like there has been a good deal of press in the last few months around these topics (i.e. “Egg Freezing Puts the Biological Clock on Hold” and “One Donor, 150 Offspring“). Perhaps that is why we so quickly jumped into the discussion. And it is a rich discussion – modern medicine and technology allow for many more people (individuals, LGBTQ couples, couples experiencing fertility challenges) to have the option of natural childbirth. Yet it does pose some interesting questions around the rights of donors, adoption, and the children born of this process.

Still, all moral, ethical and societal/gene pool/evolutionary questions aside, we wanted to know how lucrative a business this really could be. Could a dude put himself through a semester of college by sending some semen to the bank? What about frozen eggs for the ladies?

So, refilling our glasses, we decided to Google “donate sperm” and an impressive list of websites came up. We clicked on the first one and quickly learned the answer to our initial questions (a healthy 18-44 year old man can make $35-50 per “specimen,” and is asked to provide “specimens” 4-8 times per month for 6 months at a minimum). Ok, so that probably won’t put anyone through college. But it could certainly bring a bunch of babies into this world – and maybe is a more fun job than slinging coffee?

As for selling our eggs, lucrative though it may be (up to $7500 per cycle of donation, according to the wide array of postings on Craigslist), we are too old. It seems that the market for harvesting eggs is geared towards ladies in their 20s. So much for that extra money for the bar.

And with that we had to stop our investigations for the evening. We’d hit the bottom of the bottle – and Google was starting to give us options for actually choosing a donor and purchasing sperm. And that kind of online shopping would probably require a stronger drink.

Last sips of summer

September 26, 2011

This past weekend some friends hosted a BBQ – a gathering they advertised as the last of the season, a celebration of fall’s arrival. And in the full spirit of this inevitable equinox, many of us showed up with our favorite summer beverages in disbelieving hands.

One friend, frowning, grasped his summer ale close next to his chest and exclaimed, “It’s really the end of summer. This was hidden behind the pumpkin beer at the store.”

Nearly every culture in the world uses some form of alcohol in ritual. Historically, libations have been offered as sacrifices to gods or in memory of the deceased. Libations (from Latin lībātiō, from lībāre “to pour an offering of drink”) were, from very early human times, an important part of meaningful events. And if the deities love booze so much, it’s no wonder humans have a such a reverence for it.

As I sat on my friends’ patio sucking on a crisp rose one last time, it occurred to me that we find the turn of seasons – like so many other causes for celebration and/or alarm – to be a really good excuse to drink. And drink we do. But do we really think about what it is we’re guzzling down, and why we’re guzzling it?

Libationary Tales is a chronicle of drinking, but also a record of the meaning behind the drinking. In the stories that follow, I’ll do my best to share interesting drinks one might encounter – and also highlight some noteworthy occasions for partaking. I hope it will be a celebration of drinking, but also a nod to ritual and offerings, in whatever form they may take. For tonight: Vinho Verde and Deschutes Twilight Summer Ale on a back patio, clinging to the dregs of summer.