The Magic of the Airplane Bloody Mary

The Magic of the Airplane Bloody Mary

I promise that very shortly I will research and write about the history of the bloody Mary. I won’t make it the seminal point of a posting, but I will give you the dates, origins and all of that, for those of you who insist on such things. But for today, I feel compelled to speak of the wonderment of this most magnificent creation.

Once again, I am sitting on a United flight, this time, heading to Houston from Chicago, and I find myself writing my blog. I really have to get off of the road so much. It is morning and everyone around me has ordered bottled water, hot tea and coffee. In my younger days, I would have sheepishly joined the herd. But at my age, I thirstily ordered a bloody Mary as soon as I could. “A full bloody Mary?” the attractive flight attendant asked, loudly. It seemed like everyone on the plane was awaiting my answer. Surely, this guy wouldn’t actually order a hard liquored drink at 8:30 in the morning. Surely, they would be wrong.

I had thought about that bloody Mary on the drive to the airport, on that ridiculously long security line and sitting in the boarding area. “Hi-test!”, I blurted out in a somewhat defiant and slightly loud manner– surrendering both any moral equality with my fellow tee-totaling passengers, and any claim to youth by referring to ultra-leaded gasoline. No one else ordered anything stronger than Starbucks.

Debbie, the flight attendant, obliged—twice. She seems to know her way around a bloody Mary. It, er they were strong and good. Service on flight 221 was quite good. But, I digress.

I first discovered the magic of the bloody Mary during my first year of law school. I studied law in California and had decided to visit some friends over a long holiday weekend back in Chicago. We had a great time, but I somehow forgot to study. After the fun was over, I found myself on a very late Sunday night flight heading back to San Francisco, with 40 pages of real property law to read, and Professor Hovenkamp to face in the morning.

I’m not sure how I first came to order a bloody Mary. I think I saw someone else do it. Nonetheless, it would become nothing less than an epiphany. The tartness of the Mrs. T bloody Mary mix, combined with a squeeze of lime and a good vodka just seemed to sharpen my senses. I was aware of everything and everyone—even people who weren’t there. Spiderman had nothing on me.

But seriously, I was able to focus like crazy. I can’t explain it. I couldn’t then and I can’t now. What happened was semi-miraculous. I read every case, holding and dicta for 40 pages. The clarity was unbelievable. As chance happens sometimes, the next morning Professor Hovenkamp called on me to expound about trover, detinue, replevin, and the dreaded rule against perpetuities. He stood me up for the entire 50 minute class. For those of you who know, the socratic method is not always fun, especially when you are in the hot seat.

It was fun that day though. I was on a roll like I don’t think I have ever experienced since, unfortunately. I answered every question with the wit of Oliver Wendell Holmes. (Before you ask, the effects of the bloody Mary(s) had worn off by the next morning.) I don’t really know where the answers came from, but they came. At the end of my interrogation, the class gave me an ovation. That had never happened before. And so, I made bloody Marys a frequent part of my routine.

A quick note. This does not work at home or in a restaurant. It only works on board an airplane. I cannot explain the physics. That is just the way it is.

Over the years I have found that my comprehension of books, articles and complicated documents was significantly increased after drinking a couple of bloody Marys. Of course, a big part of that is being relaxed, but neither wine, beer nor other hard alcohol has had the same effect on me. I have found this to be the case with my writing as well.

And so, I salute the airplane blood Mary. It is never too spicy, too weak or too strong. The Mrs. T mix is always the same and that little bottle of vodka they give you is always just the right amount. So the next time you see a fellow passenger drinking a bloody Mary, don’t judge too quickly. He may just be trying to understand things a little better.

Next time: An update on my summer project.

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About vwspeaker

Vincent Williams is an author, speaker, and seminar leader. He was raised in Florida, where the warm nights afforded him plenty of opportunities to wonder if the universe was just an illusion. He lives with his wife and three children outside of Chicago, IL
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