Once upon a time, in a land not so far from here, there lived a tiny little 21-year-old boy named Hattie. Some people thought Hattie was a stupid name for a boy, and told him so. He beat them into squishy, bloody pulps and served them to his fire-breathing pet kittens. But that’s another story.
This story is about the year Hattie and his friends saved New Year’s Eve. Every person of your age should know this story already, but reading it again probably won’t kill you. As I was beginning to note, this took place in a little house not far from here, just over yonder Broadway Boulevard.
Little Hattie and his housemates were just “hanging around,” as they called it.
Among them, Nisenfeld stood head and shoulders above the other boys in terms of wisdom and experience. He might have been as old as 24. It was clear that when he motioned the others inside to listen to the radio, his advice should be heeded. So Hattie and his friends huddled around the radio and heard that the Portland streets were covered in frozen rain.
They heard that the streets had become nearly impassible for wimpy city drivers, and the falling snow would probably just make matters worse. It must have been about four in the afternoon at that point, and the sky was dark. Nisenfeld looked at Hattie and the boys and said, “Does anyone have any money?”
This wasn’t an unusual question around the house. In fact, it constituted about a fourth of their usual communication. The query met its usual response: murmured mumblings and eyes cast aside at nothing in particular.
“No, really,” said Nisenfeld, “our friends will be stuck downtown today, maybe overnight. We’ve got to get ready to play host.” Nisenfeld collected the bills and peeled the better part of the stack into young Hattie’s hands and whispered some instructions into the boy’s ear. Looking at his watch, the mentor hissed, “To the liquor store – and hurry!” And the boy went scampering off, falling down every few steps.
The trip was arduous and fraught with danger. Hattie’s relief at finding the liquor store still open upon his arrival was replaced by anxiety as he wondered how he would be able to return to his house with his fragile treasure intact. Why hadn’t he brought a backpack, at least?
Hattie thought about the trust his housemates had put in him and wondered what would happen if he should fall and break the bottles on his way back. It would be better to just stay outside in the snow until he froze than face their expressions of revulsion, he decided. And so he plodded as carefully as he could all the way back to the house, only falling once or twice on his rear end.
Just as Nisenfeld had foreseen, the boys’ friends had already started calling the house to reserve a little hospitality for themselves. Suffice it to say that the little house by the freeway was just as jolly as it ever could be that night.
Most important of all, that was the night Hattie learned how special it felt to be given a position of responsibility. And that warm feeling, coupled with the glow in his throat from the concoctions mixed (thanks to his courage and speed) with the liquor store’s treasures, stayed with Hattie far longer than the ice in his socks or the bruises on his rear (and they all lived happily ever after).
Vegan White Russians
2 parts vodka
1 part coffee liqueur
1 part creamy soymilk