Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Judge's Eggnog

Although this is not my Pink Saturday post, Beverly at How Sweet the Sound asks us to think about holiday traditions this month. For this Saturday, she asks us - Tell us about your favorite holiday tradition.

When I was a young woman, I led a fast and exciting - or hectic and desperate - life in New York City. And there I met a man I thought I would settle down with. That thought was brief, as he turned out to be a cad. But oh, he was a handsome and fascinating cad!

He lived in a penthouse studio apartment on lower Fifth Avenue. It was not as glamorous as it sounds - it was only a studio - but it was far, far nicer than the room I rented from a painter in a SoHo loft. He was the first man I dated who owned a gentleman's overcoat, and who regularly wore a tie to work. He was conventionally handsome, yet he wore his hair long and swept back from his brow, like a 19th century poet.

He had grown up in wealthy and powerful circles. His father was connected to the Federal Government. He had been twelve or thirteen years old when his mother divorced his father to marry a Supreme Court Justice. He spent his teens with his mother and stepfather.

During our only Christmas together, he took a typed index card from a recipe box, and fixed for me something he called "The Judge's Eggnog."

The recipe is so simple I still remember it after all these years.
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 pint of French Vanilla ice cream
Put it in a blender and drink it up, with a sprinkling of fresh-grated nutmeg on top.

He had a little tin grater for the nutmeg. A little compartment in it kept the whole seeds. I had never tasted fresh nutmeg before, and it was amazing.

It's a strong and relentlessly boozy concoction, but the '50s were different times, and a booze-laced cup of Christmas cheer was surely welcome at Washington holidays. I can imagine a large punchbowl full of the stuff being ladled into cups for law clerks, senators, and petty bureaucrats.

When my romance failed, for some reason I ended up with the typed index card, but if I still have it today it's lost in old boxes and papers. I remember it well, though; it was typed and had a small colored picture of eggs on it, and the initials WOD, for the Judge.

At Christmas, I sometimes promise to serve the Judge's eggnog, - but gathering the various components - blender, ice cream, eggs, all that booze - always seems too complicated, and I usually abandon the idea. Still, each Christmas it pops into my mind - "Hey, how about we whip up some of the Judge's eggnog?"

But I never do. I don't like hard liquor anymore, and even if I did, I don't like my booze sweet and cloyed with cream. And these days, I hesitate at serving raw eggs to anyone. But there's another reason, behind all that.

From all I've heard and read, I have no doubt the Judge's eggnog fueled much personal drama and strife in the Judge's holiday household. The Judge was a great man, deeply committed to his ideals, but his personal life was filled with acrimony, discord, marital infidelity and strife. He was highly ambitious, egotistical, and intolerant of the weaknesses of others.

My friend lived with the Judge at an age when kids need strong role models. He didn't speak much of those years, but published biographies mention the man's unhappy relationship with his children by his first wife. It would be hard to live with a man who expected so much of others yet had such profound personal failings himself. Holidays would be difficult in such a household.

My friend's own personal life, I came to learn, was not very different from his stepfather's. After we broke up, I remained in touch with him casually, and at one point he told me with amusement that I was the only one of his former girlfriends who hadn't filed legal action against him.

So, no, the Judge's eggnog has not been a holiday tradition around our house. And it never will.

But fresh-grated nutmeg? That's one thing I kept, and for that I remember him fondly.


Blondie's Journal said...

What an awesome spite of it being a little on the dark side, it was quite entertaining and a little sad.

I'm glad you never made the eggnog. I don't know why... Best just to suggest doing it every year!!

Happy holidays! :-)


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Just clap your hands!


Tristan Robin said...

that sounds like some potent eggnog. LOL No driving home after that one!

Happiest of Holidays!

Nancy said...

Romance, intrigue, climbing in and out of NYC windows - now this eggnog story. I'm getting fresh nutmeg tomorrow! Love the telling of this story, G. Have a wonderful Christmas. xoxo Nancy

CaShThoMa said...

Great story. Potent eggnog. I wonder if he's still serving up the Judge's Eggnog at holiday time.

Love the freshly grated nutmeg; that sealed the deal for me. I'd drink a cupful right about now and then slumber off to sleep!

Happy Holidaze...

Nancy said...

The nutmeg is definitely the keeper! Wouldn't it be interesting to write a book about what/whom we tossed and what we kept throughout our lives? A thematic diary...or memoir.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.

Beverly said...

Glennis, I am glad you shared this event from your life. I guess he must have fond memories of you since you filed no legal action. ;-)

My husband loves eggnog, but not so boozy.

Unknown said...

Such an interesting story about your life. I loved every word. It reminded me why I love visiting here. There is always an amazing photograph, an amazing story and an amazing bit of wisdom in your posts. Thank you : )