Irreconcilable Differences
Posted by Sara Joyce Robinson

I've known my husband for fifteen years (married for almost six), and in that time we have (of course) disagreed often. Our first argument happened over a game of Monopoly. We had differing financial philosophies. I did not buy a second railroad because the price would cut too close to my safety margin of money. He argued that since I could technically afford the purchase, I needed to buy it. I pointed out the rent was high on his properties, and I might not be able to pay the fees if I landed in his neighborhood. He said risks were the point of Monopoly.

We resolved the issue by never playing Monopoly again.

Over the years, we have learned the balance of compromise. I see what he says about the direction of toilet paper on the roll, and when it comes to our actual money, he agrees with my careful savings plan.

There is one area that still troubles us: whiskey.

I prefer my whiskey-or whisky-smoky. I like to feel like I've been licking the ashes in the fireplace after each sip. I love the burn lingering on my tongue. An aftertaste of forest fires, barbecue coals or cigars enriches the flavor and the experience for me. Perhaps it's my inheritance from my Scottish grandmother, but when I take a sip, I like to taste the charred remains of peat grown on the Highlands.

My husband could not disagree more. He dislikes any kind of smokiness in what he eats and drinks. A slice of smoked sausage makes him green. Once at a wedding cocktail hour, I saw him spit a cube of smoked gouda into his palm after he took it from a tray by accident. In whiskies, he likes mellow, he likes smooth. He can go for strong flavors (right now his current obsession is with a whiskey aged partially in rum casks). But not smoke. Not even the faintest wisp of an extinguished candle.

When we've posed this question of smokiness to others who enjoy whiskey, we've found similarly divided opinions. Some of our friends can't stand the flavor. One gagged just thinking about it. While others (the more sophisticated ones, of course) joined me in raptures about the added complexity. Once the discussion grew a little heated, and we had to agree to disagree, and move on to the next topic.

So at home, how do we resolve this whiskey war? As my husband and I both enjoy whiskey too much to not have it in the house (we still do not own a Monopoly board, even fifteen years later), we have had to come to a détente.

We buy his kind of whiskey. Because I like it too (the round richness of the flavors, the sweetness), and smokiness genuinely makes him ill. So in this case, I give in, and he gets his way, and even some whiskey stones in his stocking at Christmas.

Every once in a while, I threaten him with the Monopoly board. I maintain that the reason he got so heated in that first game was because I was winning. When I point this out, he always looks like he wants to argue, but then he smiles and lets it go. Because on this issue, I get to be right.


Sara Joyce Robinson is a native of Southern California, where she was raised, educated, and still lives. She received her MFA in Fiction from the University of California, Irvine, and you can see what she is up to at

Categories: General, Spirits

Posted by Sara Joyce Robinson on April 10, 2012 03:16 pm | Permalink 

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