Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Two-Tone Drink

When possible, many of my dad's side of the family gather at my grandparents' house in central New York for Thanksgiving. While I was in high school, my dad was stationed at Ft. Drum, a little over an hour's drive from my grandparents' house, so we were fortunate that we could spend holidays with them for a few years. Thanksgiving was usually the most-attended, but Grandma found a place for everybody to stay. Traditions include watching the Macy's parade on TV, playing Monopoly, and popping "poppers" at the end of the meal (and proudly wearing the paper crown, as long as it didn't tear).

One tradition that had evidently lapsed with the family was that of the Two-Tone Drink. Two-Tone Drink is grapefruit juice with a twist. Half of the juice has been mixed with lots of sugar and some red dye to make it a little thinker, pinker, an much sweeter than the rest of the juice. To make the two-toned appearance, the regular juice is poured into a glass to fill it up about halfway. Then, with what looks like a ginourmous eye-dropper, the darker pink juice is sucked into the eye-dropper "straw," carefully inserted into the light pink juice glass, and carefully sqeezed underneath the pink juice. The density of the sugar forces the light pink juice to the top, creating layers- a Two-Tone Drink. It looks very pretty, especially when served in crystal-clear goblets (like Grandma had).

I had never seen this drink, but one year Grandma decided it should be served with the Thanksgiving feast. It happened to be the same year that my siblings and cousins seemed to have made themselves disappear while dinner was cooking and the table needed setting, so I was the only "kid" to help (and for this family, the definition of "kid" does not correlate with one's age. You sit at the kid's table until you have kids of your own, I believe...). Grandma assigned me with setting the tables and creating the drinks (they have to be made in place, because if you move them around too much, the layers mix). It was fun, using the skills I learned from Milton Bradley's Operation to create mini beverage masterpieces.

As the family sat down for dinner, my dad and aunts nearly squealed with delight. "Two-Tone Drink!? My favorite!" They remembered the drinks from their own childhood (and knew what was in the drink, though never verbalized it). The drinks are beautiful to look at and my siblings and cousins were carefully analyzing the concoctions. "How are there two layers? What is it? How does it do that?"

Now, if you know me, you know that inside of me there is always a battle. Nice Elizabeth and Naughty Elizabeth are constantly struggling with each other. Nice Elizabeth does not always win. I knew the drinks were actually pink grapefruit juice, a tart (almost sour) taste, and thought about telling the cousins that the pretty pink drinks were actually not sweet (until you got to the dark layer).

"You should tell your cousins, you know."

"Don't do it! They won't drink it! Let them try the drink for themselves."

"That's not fair. The element of surprise in this case could have horrible results. Like, what if one of them is allergic to it?!"

"No, if they volunteered to help, they could have seen what was put in the drinks. Let them find out. It won't be so bad!"

"It is pink grapefruit juice! Of course it is bad!! At least if you are expecting tart, it isn't so bad but they are expecting sweet to match the pink!"

"Ha ha ha ha!!"

Oh, I can remember that internal battle well. It lasted over the entire course of grace and the time it takes for us to go around the table to share what each of us is thankful for. Naughty Elizabeth won. I decided to not speak up and tell my siblings and cousins what the drink was made of.

Of course, everybody drank the Two-Tone Drink simultaneously, and if we were a cartoon, seven little explosions would have left the table saturated in pink grapefruit juice. Instead, polite grimaces and slight groans occured and the reactions to the juice happened around the table.

Maybe I should have told them. But I still laugh when I think about their faces. And am thankful that I have a family willing to forgive when Naughty Elizabeth overcomes Nice Elizabeth.

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