Between the uprightness of my conscience and the hardness of my lot,
I know not how either to show respect to my feelings or to the times.
The bitterness of my mind urges me at all hazards to speak what I think,
whereas the necessity of the times prompts me, however unbecomingly,
to keep silence.
Which way shall I turn myself?
(5 o’clock somewhere / Julie Cook / 2020)
Way back in the early ’80s, I was but a young naive, early twenty-something art teacher.
As an art educator, I thought it was my duty, meaning I had the bright idea,
that I should create a European adventure in order to take my students upon—
one that would focus on the great art capitals of Europe.
Note to self…when you are mid-twenties…don’t take teens on a trip…
especially out of the country.
And don’t do it when terrorism was actually becoming a thing
and there was no such things as cell phones.
That will be another story for another day.
However, for now, I want to share one little story.
At that time, as a young art teacher, who had recently been a young student myself,
I had a deep love and fascination with all things Italian.
I had minored in Art History with a focus on the Italian Renaissance.
Italy was, to me, the mecca of the art world.
And to truly appreciate such, I had immersed myself in all things Italian.
As a kid, I always loved Italian food, albeit 1960’s Americana Italian.
As an adopted kid, I just knew my true roots were Italian.
Was I not the secret love child of Sophia Loren???
Yet sadly that all actually proved to be a Scotch / Irish and English background,
but I digress.
So when our little adventure finally brought us to Italian soil, I had the
bright idea that I would, by gosh, treat myself to a quintessential Italian drink…
That glistening brilliant red Italian liqueur.
I had seen all the famous advertisement posters… Campari was THE
I remember marching up to a bar at a disco we had taken to kids to enjoy
and boldly telling the bartender I would like a Campari on the rocks.
Oh I felt so Sophia Lorenesque—-waiting on Dean Martin to come croon me a sweet Italian
I was so excited, so full of expectation…that was all until I brought that glass to my
expectant lips and took a big swallow.
There are no words for the nano-moments following.
It was a swallow followed by a quick spitting out what remained in my mouth.
Oh my great heavens above, I had just ingested kerosene!!!
A fire was now coursing down my throat as the bitter taste of poison cloyingly
coated my mouth.
If not some sublime red delightful liquid, what in the heck was Campari!!!?????
Oh, what my naivete and immature taste did not understand of aperitifs and digestifs
and more importantly bitters.
A story I now recall fondly as I’ve actually acquired quite the taste for Campari–
albeit mixed with a bit of lime and prosecco.
In more of a spritz verses that of a hardcore sipper.
And all this talk of bitters brings me full circle to our lives today.
For we are living during some bitter days.
A shadowy Spector seems to be waiting on each of us with some sort of sadistic
We are finding ourselves isolated, dislocated and as if living in some strange foreign land.
Our world has been literally turned upside down.
And how ironic that we should find ourselves in the midst of one of the holiest times
in all of Christendom—the week leading to Good Friday…and eventually Easter.
A time of jubilation followed by humility, betrayal, torture, and eventually death…
It is a bitter time.
A time of gall and bile.
A time of blood and vomit.
Not a pretty picture.
Not a picture of sweet little bunnies and precious little lambs.
This is a time of reality.
A time of life, lies, deceit, and death.
And how odd that our world now is actually walking the same sacred
walk we Christians have walked now for nearly 2000 years…
the Via Dolorosa…
A painful and difficult journey.
Yet what we followers of Christ already know…
the ending is not nearly as tragic as the world would have us believe.
Victory, in the end, is truly ours.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,
and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”