Friday Musings: Perfect Pitch
In music, there is a relatively rare ability that somewhere around 1 in 10,000 people possess called perfect pitch. If you are one of these people then you are able to identify or reproduce a musical note without any external reference tone. So if someone calls out a pitch to you then you can accurately sing it. Likewise, if you hear a pitch then you can correctly name it. I absolutely love music, but I am not musically inclined at all, so this ability sounds pretty amazing to me. I’ve always been drawn to the idea of it. A few months ago, I was reading a book by Jodi Picoult called Sing You Home in which the main character is a musician who describes the concept of perfect pitch in life as “the ability to know someone from the inside out, even better maybe than she knows herself.” Picoult’s book happens to be about a relationship between two women, but you can substitute pronouns here if you need to. Maybe it’s my lifelong fascination with perfect musical pitch, or maybe it’s my profound belief in the connections that occur between us, but something about this line has a hold on me and doesn’t want to let go.
It might be the intimacy of it that I find to be so compelling. You have to take down a lot of barriers in order for someone to know you that well, and I don’t think it’s something that necessarily occurs only between spouses, same sex or opposite. I think it can happen between friends, certainly between siblings, and most definitely between parents and their children. After all, there was a time when we all knew our kids better than they knew themselves, before they began to exert their need for independence. Ah, and there’s the word that I think creates the greatest obstacle between us and the idea of perfect pitch. We’re all terrified to admit that we’re dependent on other people in any way. We strive to go it alone, to be as strong and as fiercely independent as we can be, sometimes even in our closest relationships. Renée Zellweger’s “you complete me” line in the movie Jerry Maguire has become the bane of therapists everywhere. No one should have to complete us, right? We’re supposed to be able to complete ourselves. But what if we surrender to that idea for just a moment and admit that maybe there’s a small part of us that might want to be completed by other people, or at the very least complemented by them. I’m not suggesting that we walk around with gaping holes that we expect everyone else to fill, but how about just some little indentations that other people have the right bumps to match? We could start fitting together like some big interconnected puzzle with all the pieces lining up just right. Maybe some of us would even be in perfect pitch.
Could we do it? Only if we let our guards down. We’d have to be willing to tell our spouses or our forever friends that they really do complete us and we’re thankful for it. We’d have to call our parents and admit how much we still need them, channeling Jennifer Garner’s character in 13 Going on 30 when she climbs in bed with her mom and dad during the thunderstorm. How wonderful would be to be able do that again? Or to tell our siblings that we loved growing up with them, that we remember those nights in our pajamas under the same roof together when everything seemed safe and easy. Or how about that person that we just met that we like a lot, but we’re afraid to admit it because we’re not 6-years-old anymore when it was ok to say “I really want to sit next to you.” How can we ever find perfect pitch if we don’t let anybody in? And when did we get to be so afraid?
Today’s cocktail is a variation of a Penicillin and a Rusty Nail. It’s all about flavors that echo one another perfectly, beginning with the smokiness of the Laphroaig and the tea syrup, to the warmth of the Dewar’s, the spiciness of the Drambuie, the heat of the Barrow’s, right on through to the brightness of the lime. It’s an intense and intimate drink that matches the mood of this post. Make one, and while you’re drinking it say what you long to say, make that phone call, or, at the very least, ask yourself what there really is to be afraid of.
2 oz Dewar’s Scotch whisky
½ oz Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur
¼ oz Drambuie
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz Lapsang Souchong vanilla syrup*
¼ oz Laphroaig 10-year-old single malt
Place all the ingredients except the Laphroaig in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for 15-20 seconds or until very cold. Strain into an old-fashioned glass over one large cube. Carefully float the Laphroaig on top. Garnish with a lime twist. Enjoy!
*Brew an 8 oz cup of lapsang souchong tea and allow to steep. Add 4 oz sugar and reheat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in ½ tsp vanilla bean paste. Store in a mason jar in the fridge for 2 weeks.