Saturday, October 25, 2008

A toast to my father

$4,600. That’s how much was offered for my dad’s confusing collection of liquor since the 1980s. Not being a drinker himself, he was nevertheless showered with gifts from friends and business associates who thought it was the right gift to give. But these bottles, which consisted of cognac, rare whiskey and other hard liquor that have names I can only pretend to pronounce, have always been scattered in the bar area in our apartment like white elephants - grazing on our helplessness at what to do with them.

But the time had come – since dad’s passing and our recent decision to move to a new apartment at the end of the year, we started thinking of ways to hush this herd of beverages to new pastures. But of course, not knowing a thing about prices for liquor (or white elephants for that matter), we scoured the papers for interested buyers that might find them a new home. And so, one by one, the potential buyers came into the wilderness - patting, inspecting and scrutinising every detail on these placid creatures. We discovered that some of these were gems – you could tell from the way they were handled - accompanied by common pauses and clearing of throats. Others turned out to be worthless – these were often tossed casually aside without a second glance. I realised that we never once looked at the collection as individuals, each with their own unique value and story.

Then came the bidding. Prices ranged quite dramatically and proved that one man’s treasure may not necessarily be viewed (or priced) as another’s. We were offended at some of the offers - almost as if they had insulted what we had unconsciously watched over as part of the family for so many years.

And so – we settled on the highest bidder. As the thick wad of cash was handed over… I couldn’t help but feel a little saddened at the crates of bottles being carted out of our apartment. Afterall, these bottles, no matter how seemingly pointless, had been with us since we were kids and represented a small part of my dad.

The day after the exodus of the white elephants, mum and I decided it was best that we donate the proceeds from their exit to a worthwhile cause. Whilst it was tempting to go out and splurge it on new designer furniture for the new apartment, we decided that this was the right thing to do. After all... its comforting to know that just like my dad, the bottles have gone to a better place... and left the world a better place than when they first arrived.


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