Authors: Darri Stephens
To our amazing families, the Stephens and the DeSales,
we both thank you for all of your constant love and
And an extra spoonful of sugar to our inspirational mothers,
Josie and Madge, who are still hoping that we'll find our
true loves and our true cooking skills.
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
Several sprigs fresh sweet mint
Juice of a whole lime (can add a little lemon juice too!)
1.5 shots white rum
Splash club soda
1 lime wedge
Place sugar and mint in a tall glass and using the back of a spoon, mash the mint leaves into the sugar to release the wonderful mint flavor. Add the next four ingredients, mix, add lime wedge as garnish on side or top and serve.
These can be dangerous, so sip with caution! Enjoy with good friends or by yourself.
in and tonic, nine dollars. Way-too-tight Seven Jeans, one hundred and ninety dollars. New Nars lipstick, twenty-two dollars. First night out on the town with my girls, priceless. This was so exciting, our first real post-college bar experience. “Here's to our virginal glow, gals!” I shouted with glee, raising a shot of tequila. “We are independent women.
Watch us dance! We are not gatherers anymore. We don't sit at home drinking tea, gathering dust and fat asses. We are the hunters. Hunting is hard work. So we must quench our thirst as we work!”
Ahh, I'm finally here! My name is Charlie Brown (don't ask yet) and I am a New Yorker. It just took me about twenty- two years, five months, ten days, two hours, and five minutes to get here. But who's counting? I am a single goddess, a working girl, a creature like no other. I'm on my way to the top, moving on up. Yep, friends, brothers, ex-lovers, mothers and fathers, I am on my own in the big city and no one can stop me. Watch out New York, here I come! There, I said it. I said that cheesy cliché. You know you've all said it whether you said it out loud or kept it to yourself. It's the moment you know that you've finally arrived. Maybe it was your first kiss, the night you lost your virginity, or the day you got into college. For me, it was the day I moved into my first New York apartment. It might have taken me a few months, but boy, it was worth the wait.
Trying not to squirm as the tequila from the shot blazed down my throat, I thought about how far I had come in a mere twenty-four hours … Per the advice of Maria Von Trapp, aka Julie Andrews, “Let's start from the very beginning, a very good place to start.” How much had I had to drink already?
irst thing this morning, I was faced with a complex math dilemma. When a box frame which does not bend by design is 54 × 75 × 8 inches, how do you fit it up a stairwell that is 43 inches wide with corners that are 52 × 52 inches? As I squeezed my road trip–enhanced ass (yeah, McDonald's Big Mac with Super Sized Fries) between the banister and the box
frame, my dad muttered, “All I had at age twenty-two was just a plain old AM/FM battery-operated radio. Boy, was that a classic.” I rolled my eyes and jokingly threw two hat boxes, a box of picture frames, and a bag of hangers at him. He dodged the hangers artfully using the box frame as his wall of defense.
Gone are the college papers. Gone are the fraternity parties. Gone are the underage boys. Hello, Manhattan Men! Hello, Morning Meetings! Hello, Money (yes, with a capital “M”). I've been out for a couple of months now. No, not from some federal pen, but from college. You remember that warm cocoon of security? Sure, it didn't seem like that during the four years I was there. I could still remember complaining to my mother about how stressed I was over my upcoming exams and hearing her say calmly, “Remember, this is a free ride.”
“What?” I'd responded with the indignation that I had perfected over the past ten years. “What do you mean
a free ride
? I'm working two jobs to pay for those overpriced textbooks I need for my senior thesis class, which I have to ace in order to receive the diploma that is necessary to succeed in the world. Never mind making you and Dad proud—you know a college dropout would not pass muster in our family.”
“Darling, all I meant was that you're lucky to have these wonderful four years of no responsibility.” My mother had a knack for digging herself in deeper and deeper under my skin. I liked to blame it on the fact that she was an only child and had never had to soothe a younger sibling's scraped knee or bruised ego. She could never quite come up with the right words in any sensitive situation. From countless miles away, she could, with the help of fiber optics, make my skin crawl and my defenses rise.
“Responsibility? Mom, I have two part-time jobs, six
classes—eighteen yes, that is eighteen—credits, plus a house to contribute to, and a boyfriend to appease when his lacrosse games fall a bit short!”
Of course, she'd just answered calmly, “I mean
responsibility. You do work hard, and we are proud of you, but you are not managing a household, supporting a family, working long days.” As her argument started to peter out, I'd jumped in with my last defense: “Whatever, Mom! I need to go deal with my unburdened life.” And I'd hang up on her.
But now here I am, on day one of my new life. And don't think I didn't have help on the big day. We had U-Hauled my prized possessions to New York on a Wednesday. My father drove, with my mother in the copilot seat, and me perched on an upturned laundry basket protecting a few plants. After spending the night in a Holiday Inn, we'd bumped along the rain soaked road to arrive at my new apartment building at 5:30 A.M. My dad is an early riser and he figured we'd be able to find a parking space if we were up before the birds. He was also math obsessed.
“With X amount of streets—and there are a lot of streets in Manhattan—you'd think there would be one parking space for us,” he mumbled. “And there are two sides to every street,” he went on. “Hence, multiply
by two, and don't forget the parking garages for those Sunday drivers.” I sleepily tried to tune him out. Hell, did I still have to multiply? I had graduated.
“Dad!” I groaned. “Just double park, please. Mom can wait while we haul the loot.” Round and round the block we go. Where is a parking space? Nobody knows!
“Ah, there it is,” Dad said. “Home sweet home. 167 West Eighty-first Street.” We both craned our necks to look up at the looming brown façade. There were four of us—three of us
friends from college—moving in together on the Upper West Side. The realtor had pitched the building to us as one of the “few remaining true brownstones.” When I questioned the fact that this brownstone had five floors (?), she said that if you took your fingernail to stonework, you would see that it would crumble into brown dust, hence “brown stone.” Who knew if that was true. The important thing was that my friend Sydney's parents had wanted a doorman building, but the closest thing we found was a five-floor walk-up with a white-gloved doorman building next door.
“This building is on the historical registry!” my mom had marveled. I hoped that reason alone would excuse the crumbling cornerstones and dilapidated windowsills. As my father and I hauled up my box frame, he surveyed the interior.
“These hallways are pretty bare with just the doors,” he commented. Yes, dear old dad, I thought, we are in an apartment building where no one has been assigned to hallway decor.
“And they're pink,” he grimaced. “Makes me think of a seedy hotel.”
Immediately my glamorized view of the halls in my grownup apartment building had been reduced to those creepy hallways in
. I turned my head fully expecting to see two sullen girls around the bend, then I looked the other way anticipating the dull roar of a Big Wheel. Red rum, red rum! Speaking of rum, I needed a shot of something strong, and it was only 6:20 A.M. Great. Thanks Mom and Dad. I was home.
hat did you just say?” my mom asked casually as she put the last sock ball in my dresser drawer.
“Nothing. Um, so are you almost done?” I asked eagerly. It was almost 10:00 A.M. They'd been in my apartment for almost five hours. Mom and Dad had thought it would be cute to move their baby daughter into her first real apartment. And who was I to refuse? They'd let me lounge around the house for the past two months: free rent, free food, free money, free everything. So the least I could do was give them this final moment to feel like parents. But like all of us just getting started in this big, mean, exciting world, this was the day I was destined to sever the ties from the womb. Well, I'd like to think that this was the day.
“What? You don't need any more help?” my mother asked. You could see the frown forming. And with that impeccable timing of hers, those big blue eyes begin to fill with salty discharge. Yep, here came the tears. And let me tell you, I'm not talking about a few measly drops here and there. When Mom's floodgates opened, it was like the Red Sea, and this time, there was no Moses to come to the rescue. I sprung into sorry daughter mode.