My Nannibunny and I had many great years waitressing together and we became quite the formidable duo, the two of us did. Working most evenings, and finding the time when we weren’t studying, everybody else’s tedious nine to five became our playtime. And how we made the most of it! We’d make the breakfast special at Barney’s with a glorious view of our glimmering blue bay, instructing the server in no uncertain terms to throw in an added shot of vodka with the complimentary orange juice, all the better to soak in the sunshine. Lunchtimes often meant the local strip club, The Golden Curtain, not necessarily for their entertainment (as illuminating as that was!) but for their delicious steaks on the cheap. Meanwhile, afternoons often entailed a Campari and more orange juice at the Italian Club, before readying ourselves for a pre-work snooze.
I loved it most when the sun was shining in full glory and Renata announced it was Picnic Day. I was good at the cassette tape mixes for the journey to Schoenies beaches where we could find the perfect rocky enclave, and she was a whizz with the contents of our basket, filled as they were to the hilt with salami and cheeses and juicy olives, a spread that would make any Italian proudly patriotic. And of course, obligatory was the bottle of bubbly we would stop and pick up along the way.
I know it not to be true, but when I look back it felt like Summer was never-ending when it was just me and her, this sister from another mister who I love so very truly. Our daily lives were lived to the fullest with sumptuous meals and a suitable beverage of our choosing along with only the best of soundtracks. Many musicians came and went on our playlists. But there is one particular album and one particular drink that were so very made for each and tasted so very much of sunshine, the pairing is etched forever on my brain as the very epitome of the luscious life we led in those days, young, care-free and in love with I don’t know, life itself!
The dawn of a new day was simply bursting with endless possibility for the two of us… We laughed the loudest. We drank copiously. We dined like queens. We danced and sang our hearts out. And when we mellowed, boy could we mellow. This album, that drink, is all about our Ultimate Mellow.
I’d heard a song many times before. One of my mother’s friends who was a DJ at clubs was fond of playing it at his home on one of his many playlists. It seemed to me, this particular Summer, a basic requirement for living that I head to the nearest CD store to covet the artist and so it was that Smoke City came into my life, and with that my Nannibunny’s. It was love at first listen for the both of us. The entire album. The song that had me first hooked was “Underwater Love.” The album, Flying Away. It wasn’t long before it became our permanent playlist for that particular Summer, all Summer long!
But that Summer had another discovery in store for us…
We were searching for the Ultimate Summer Signature Drink that season. We’d perused the bottle store for ideas, and the nearest Spar. Suddenly a new juice had arrived on Spar’s shelves, their very own brand of watermelon juice. Now few things mean Summer for me quite so much as the sudden abundance of watermelons at the grocers. That life-affirming shade of sunset-hued pink set against its green stripey husk…. The way it’s almost impossible to bite into a single slice without it dripping all over the place, all the better to eat on a day at the beach in a bikini, its sticky sweetness adding to the salt and sand on your lotioned-up skin. So sample this new juice we must, I insisted!
Mmm… Upon first taste, we both had to admit it was a little bland. Disappointing. But I happened to have a little vodka left over chilling in the fridge so we figured we may as well make the most of it, or better of it as it were. (When in doubt, add a shot of vodka!) And the two were a match made in heaven. And that was the one, with the perfect pairing, our Endless Summer of all Summers, sipping on our pink drinks and flying away to the lizard-lounging sounds of Smoke City.
Campari Still Life by Howard Rose