Sunday, April 10, 2011

That First Sip Of The Day

My wife and I have an agreement that if a movie was directed by Clint Eastwood we will go see it. We had not yet met when Sidney Lumet was making movies, but we would undoubtedly have had a similar agreement regarding his movies. Rest in peace, Mr. Lumet, you gave us great art.

He made The Verdict the same year that I took my last drink; I didn’t see it until about six months later. He could set a scene that would curl your hair.

It was morning. How did Lumet do that? But you knew it was morning, and Paul Newman sits with a brimming shot glass in front of him. He goes to pick it up but his hand is trembling, so he sits it back down quickly to avoid spilling. He bends down and sips from the glass as it sits on the bar top. A moment later he lifts the glass for the next sip and his hand is no longer trembling. He gazes, deadpan, at his hand in recognition of that and then tosses off the shot of whiskey and leaves.

The first sip in the morning stops the wobblies. It gets worse than that, because eventually it reaches the point where the quality of the upcoming day is measured by how many drinks you have to take before one stays down. But the first sure sign of impending doom is when we notice that the first sip stops the wobblies, and that scene was just perfectly rendered.

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