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Jameson 1780 Irish Whiskey 

Bobby and Roxanna's backyard, south St. Louis

The sun has set in Bobby and Roxanna's south-city backyard. The early birds are finished eating, and their eyes are glazing over. Conversation lulls. Standing on the periphery, eyeing their seats, are the vultures of the night, who are tired of standing.

It happens at every good party. At some point, the crowd turns. The prim go home to tuck in their kids, and the night owls settle in for a night of soft-breeze drinking. Most are having beer. Others drink Missouri wine out of plastic cups. We're drinking Jameson 1780 Irish Whiskey with a single ice cube. Finally the old folks go home, and the barbecue turns into a party.

Summer sprints from the starting gate on Memorial Day weekend. Although not officially summer for a half-month, that last weekend of May marks the beginning of the St. Louis party season. And tonight is perfect. The outdoors is air-conditioned. The June bugs are out a week early. Even the bunnies can't believe the luck. To paraphrase poet David Berman, we are within inches of the perfect distance from the moon.

The crowd has arrived, and some of them are drunk. Two dudes keep singing the refrain to Boston's "More Than a Feeling," which soon gets annoying. In the basement, the house music is thumping. The gay boys have set up camp in the living room. Most of the lesbians are out back listening to Celia sing. The straights are, predictably, everywhere. Tonight Celia's dipping from the Neil Diamond songbook: "Was in the spring/And spring became the summer/Who'd have believed you'd come along/Hands, touchin' hands/Reachin' out/Touchin' me/Touchin' you/Sweet Caroline/Good times never seemed so good/I've been inclined/To believe they never would."

There's a keg of Schlafly, but we're not in the mood. The bottle of Lillet Blonde has been tapped. Over on the counter is an errant bottle of Jameson 1780 Irish Whiskey, hidden amid the wreckage. It's the good compromise, the little sippy-sippy of clean, soft Irish whiskey, with a single cube to release the flavor, sweet and a touch spicy. In the States, two brands vie for supremacy: Bushmills and Jameson. We used to be big on Bushmills, which has more of a sting, but now prefer Jameson.

Yes, Memorial Day weekend, and the summer, filled with potential, has arrived. The outdoors is now open for business; a new coat of green paint has been slathered on all of Mother Nature. The flies are ready to dive-bomb our watermelon, the mosquitoes ready to suck us dry, the ants ready to clean up. Party season is upon us. Let's hear it for the backyard!

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