All to the good: Let it be fodder for the imagination.
Absenthe, she tended to remind herself, does not make the heart grow fonder.
Her thoughts slid, like the needle finding its vinyl groove, to her long-ago college adventures, already three generations too late to know about the real Absenthe. A young dreamer 80 after the green fairy flitted through fin-de-ciecle Paris. In French, la fée verte, the fairy who inspired and drove artists mad. But maybe that was just the wormwood talking.
She knew the flavor –– anise, of course, always licorice –– and she knew how the emerald-green liquor clouded into the color of a mint milkshake when mixed with water.
"Give a chap a drink," they used to call across open space to one another, college kids with a yearning for Hemingway's sort of possibilities.
"Isn't it pretty to think so," was the correct response. A bit of self-conscious whimsy. A pose. Ersatz nostalgia with a wink.
They usually ended up with beer. It was cheaper and plentiful, and it was only much later that anyone laid hands on the heavy glass bottle that held a genuine green fairy.
But they were just college kids afternoon-drinking then, hoisting glass mugs of yellow beer, waxing gently ironic about their dreams.
She shook her head as she trudged along, and then caught the eye of a young person –– boy? girl? not that it mattered, a slim figure dressed entirely in black who probably thought she was a crazy old bat. Far ridere il polli.
She felt her shoulders rise in an exaggerated shrug and quickly added a neck roll to make herself look less ridiculous. Wormwood, she had been thinking, artemisia absenthium, a medicinal bitter herb.
Stopping to catch her breath and shift the shopping bag from left to right, she considered the plant. Silvery leaves dried like sage, with the scent –– what else? –– mildly licorice-scented. If she remembered her Culpeper's Complete Herbal (circa 1653), and she did, "This herb is good for something, for God made nothing in vain."
She expelled the irony in one sharp exhale: "Or anyway, Isn't it pretty to think so?"