Sanity Test

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

–John Steinbeck

That’s my mantra. So that I don’t ever feel too hopeful about an outcome, as I make plans for any of my projects, I repeat to myself that things often go awry. As a result of embracing this sentiment, I don’t experience disappointment when things don’t work out for me—like when my books are published on the eve of a pandemic that causes people to think about how they’re going to afford food and shelter instead of reaching for a good book. Therefore, it’s highly appropriate that I try Tim Federle’s Of Mice and Manischewitz on day five of my literary cocktail journey.

My trilogy, When Life Was Still, has tragic Steinbeckian undertones. Like Steinbeck, I consider myself both a social critic and a storyteller. I embrace Steinbeck’s visionary style and share his passion for symbolism. My protagonists, Ellen, Greta, and Amy each represent a historical American woman archetype chasing after idealized dreams while encountering events and people that force her to change along the way.

I don’t have Manischewitz wine on hand, but I do have Mogen David’s Mad Dog 20/20 and I feel like that could be the gentile version of Manischewitz. The occurrence of mad dogs—and Mad Dog—in When Life Was Still symbolizes the tendency of those with power in society to place the label of “mentally ill” on those who see things “differently.” So I’m going to call my version of the drink Of Mad Dogs and Men.

These are the ingredients:

  • 4 ounces Mad Dog 20/20—because I don’t have Manischewitz (Please don’t judge me for having Mad Dog on hand. I bought it as a tribute to my high school drinking buddy who recently passed away. And please don’t judge the high school version of me for drinking Mad Dog.)
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 apples, washed and sliced (washed while I sang the ABCs, according to CDC guidelines)
  • 2 oranges, in segments
  • 15 blueberries (I didn’t have fresh ones so I used canned ones that expired in October 2019)
  • Combine the above in a small pitcher with ice
  • Pour into a wineglass over ice
  • Garnish with 3 small triangles pepper jack cheese—even though the recipe called for 3 small cheddar cheese squares, I didn’t have cheddar, and I thought rebelling against the square shape requirement would pair well with the Mad Dog

My review of Of Mad Dogs and Men:

Four out of five stars. I subtracted two points for the cheese garnish because I’m lactose intolerant, but then I gave it a point back because of the fun high school memories that came rushing back as I drank it. If you don’t have fun Mad Dog 20/20 memories, you should expect a three from this drink because it’s somewhat lacking in body.

May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live!

© 2020 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Julie Ryan

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