I dislike brands so much that I will cut off labels, or ‘black ink out’ logos on my shoes and so on. Forest Gump told me that I should never advertise someone else’s product, only my own. He is right of course!
But there is a brand that I like, not because it does anything for me other than prompt a memory.
‘Scotch and Soda’ is a clothing brand that I have purchased twice. The first time in an op shop on Karangahape Road, $40.00 for a ‘Scotch and Soda’ shirt. The second time, another shirt, but this time in the department store that I only ever ‘browse’ in, Smith and Caughey. On the last day of their last sale I saw a ‘Scotch and Soda’ shirt on their going going gone rack, $25.00!
I was just old enough to remember, maybe kindergarten days. It was time for Santa Claus to begin appearing at events and in malls. My father was a ‘Service Manager’ at the time at a garage selling Vauxhalls and Chevrolets. Clive was the name of the boss. He seemed a very kindly man, very quiet, smoked something very smelly, and drove cars with names I couldn’t say, like Wyvern and Corvette.
I was just old enough to remember this time when Clive invited all his staff to his place. It was early evening I think, and we were all squeezed into the front room of his house. I remember this being a big house in town, but when I see it now it was a very small modest stucco bungalow.
I now suspect the huge crowd that I think I remember gathered, was not so large after all, but I do remember being squeezed in, and the same smell of the cigar that Clive smoked. Clive stood by the fireplace and he had a glass in his hand. I think he often did. And then it started to happen! Clive started asking everyone around the room what they wanted to drink. ‘Scotch and Soda’ was the drink that somehow implanted itself in my mind, and so when Clive asked me what I would like to drink, of course I said ‘Scotch and Soda’!
The huge room of mainly men bursting forth with laughter. I was terrified but tried not to show it. For the next twenty something years I’m sure those manly men smiled at me remembering my ‘Scotch and Soda’ request, and certainly Clive considered me his friend.
Thirty something years of theological immersion though, has bought me back to ‘Scotch and Soda’. Back then I was invited to this house of mainly men but my mother was there too. Friendly people who didn’t all know each other well or at all, but we were all invited. I was probably the youngest but I was welcome, and I remember standing in the middle of this room, in front of Clive. And Clive was generous, asking people what they would like, and he was including everyone in his hospitality. And when it came to my turn to say what I wanted, I felt the freedom to tell him amongst a crowd that instantly responded. It was my introduction to a world that was for me and not against me. As shy as I was growing up, that moment when I wasn’t shy sticks in my experience as a moment of freedom, hope, love, care, company, a feeling that has had a longevity beyond anything else I can remember at such a young age.
I think this season is about that kind of experience infiltrating our lives in such a way that we want those moments for those around us in our families, our work places, but also in the communities that we stand with as journey-women and men.
‘Scotch and Soda’, Slangivar!