The day before the wedding, Bruno was stretched out on the carpet playing Super Monkey Ball on his phone and bemoaning fate.
“This can’t be happening,” he said wretchedly, “I’m never going to beat your score. Damn you, AiAi! Stop falling off the board, you failmonkey.”
Boots’ phone chirped with a text, and he smiled at it before tapping out a response.
“Is it Alphonse, from Montreal?”
“Why do you always say it like that? And I’m from Montreal. We both currently live in Montreal. Get over this aversion you've developed, or find a new roommate.”
“He has a bowler hat,“ Bruno insisted.
“He’s stylish,” Boots countered.
“He waxes his mustache,” Bruno complained.
“He really has a personal brand,” Boots said mildly, putting the last of the dishes away.
Bruno narrowed his eyes at him.
“It’s like that cocktail shaker is permanently glued to his hand.”
“He’s fun at parties, and if you hate it so much, stop drinking all his Cucumber Basil Rickeys.”
Bruno pouted at that, loathe to admit that he loved any drink with more than two ingredients.
“He called you, to your face and your ass, both ‘Bootsyboots’ and ‘Bootsylicious’. In front of me. While I was both awake and sober.”
“And whose fault is that?”
For a brief, magical time, Boots had convinced people to call him ‘Vin’ his first year at McGill, but time, tide and Bruno were forces that could not be reckoned with, and when Bruno arrived to spend spring break at Boots’ dorm, he undid the new monniker in one night of karaoke that had nearly everyone on campus catcalling him cheerfully and/or serenading him with ‘Bootylicious’ for the rest of the year.
Since Bruno was handling Diane’s reception, Boots sensed that “All the Single Ladies” would inevitably impact his future. He had yet to forgive Beyoncé (and, really, all of Destiny’s Child) for the Bootylicious incident.
It wasn’t as if he could stay mad at Bruno.
“He’s a douchenozzle and you know it in your shriveled little heart.”
“You’re just tweaked because I have a date to Diane’s wedding.”
“You mean I’m just justifiably angry that my date abandoned me at the last minute. Whole different animal.”
Cathy had called that afternoon, begging off. Some whirlwind romance with a Krav Maga instructor, which had her crowing, “Ha, I have a real date now, suck it, Walton!” loudly enough that Boots could hear her through Bruno’s cellphone.
As if merely thinking her name had caused her to pop into existence at their door, Cathy banged into their apartment without bothering to knock. Her eyeliner was smeared enough that her cat eye look had become a tiger tail, her dark hair was in a sticky knot on her head and she was wearing a diving suit and some kind of backpack.
“What the hell, Cathy?” barked Bruno.
“Jesus, are you all right?” asked Boots.
“Fine, I’m fine. Emergency meeting of the… wait, what letter are we up to now?”
“L,” Boots supplied.
“Emergency meeting of the Librarian Spy Party.”
The habit of naming committees had never really left Bruno, and they’d needed codenames for each taskforce:
- Just Consort Consortium (Diane’s Bridal Shower, handled by Boots: cocktails at La Distillerie, with sex toys a-go-go gleefully supplied by both Cathy and Bruno.)
- Kick Ass Council (The Bachelorette Party--something involving wetsuits, apparently--covered by Cathy.)
- Librarian Spy Party (Reception. Bruno. Somehow.)
Although she was famously easygoing, Boots wondered if Diane wasn't second-guessing handing the reins to Bruno for herself and fifty guests.
Diane had declined a rehearsal dinner. “Face it, there’s no rehearsing for anything involving both Cathy and Bruno,” she’d admitted to Boots. He had in no way disagreed.
“Oh my god, you took Diane parasailing,” Boots realized. “You took Diane Grant parasailing. You took Diane parasailing?! How drunk did you get her, Burton?”
“Pretty drunk,” Cathy admitted. “Like, maybe still drunk at the ceremony drunk?” She bunched up her nose and gamely attempted a smile.
“You’re a menace,” Boots sighed, dropping on to the couch.
“It’s not the drunk part that’s the problem, though. Let’s say that I had to spill certain secrets in order to get her to agree to parasail, and that she wasn’t the only one drinking tequila, and so I may have accidentally, a little bit, told her you guys had finally hooked up and were coming to her wedding… together?” She clasped her hands together beseechingly.
“It must be one hell of a secret, seeing as I’m keeping it from myself!" Bruno yelped. "And what do you mean, ‘finally’ hooked up?!”
“I’m supposed to be dating Bruno?” Boots howled.
Bruno smacked Boots in the chest with the back of one broad hand. “Hey, I’m a catch, you shut your stupid face-mouth.”
“Not my best work,” Bruno shrugged, before pivoting to squint at Cathy.
“You guys, look, I knooooow, but just, listen to me--you should have seen her little face! You could see tiny throbbing cartoon hearts in her eyes, I totally mean it. It could be your wedding gift to her--romance, old friends, true love, all that stuff. I’ll owe you, big time.”
“First of all,” Boots pointed out, “we already got her a wedding gift--a little thing called chipping in for her honeymoon to Luxembourg? And even if I was up for PRETENDING TO DATE BRUNO, wouldn’t our inevitable sudden and spectacular break-up be a crushing let down?”
Bruno had never dated anyone for more than three weeks. At least three of those women had thrown things out of sheer, screeching frustration during the final showdown.
“What the hell will she care?” Cathy snapped. “By then she’ll be married to a model who’s so hot he makes my toenails sweat, oh, and who also teaches a masters class in microbiology. She’ll barely notice, and even if she does? It’s not like she’ll be surprised.”
One of the louder break-ups had been with Cathy, the summer after they'd graduated college. Bruno called it “that time of great disturbance in the force”. Cathy called it “that time I threw a knife at Bruno”. The knife in question had been a one inch long and safely-folded keychain Swiss army blade, and she'd deliberately missed besides, but it still totally counted.
Bruno gave her a sour look before cocking an eyebrow at Boots.
“And then there’s the small matter of how you already have a boyfriend? Even if he is from Montreal.”
Boots felt himself go scarlet to the roots of his hair. He’d honestly forgotten entirely about Alphonse. Huh. That couldn’t be good.
“Actually,” Cathy said sweetly, “I already checked in with Alphonse. He thinks the whole thing is aDORable and this way, he can bring his camera.”
Boots may have instituted a no-digital-video rule to all their dates. He’d been in about as many man-on-the-street interviews with Bruno as he could take, well before Alphonse had made it his goal in life to reach as many youtube views as Taylor Swift. (Bruno had nothing but contempt for Alphonse and nothing but reverence for Taylor Swift. “Have him call me when he gets a record deal at fourteen and then releases an album at sixteen that goes platinum. Five times.”)
“Hipster asshat,” Bruno muttered.
“Oh my god, you’re going to make us pretend to be boyfriends,” Boots moaned in distant horror.
“It’s for a good cause,” Cathy said virtuously, a truly evil grin curling across her face.
Senior year, Bruno went home for American Thanksgiving, and Diane’s parents took her away for a long weekend to visit an elderly aunt in hopes of earning a check towards Diane’s college tuition.
That Friday night, Cathy crawled into 306 with a bottle of Midori stolen from Miss Scrimmage’s room.
“I thought it wasn’t ladylike to drink,” Boots said, smiling.
“Not in public, no. But it’s extremely ladylike to hide your booze, especially behind the collected works of Dickens and Melville.”
“Tasteful,” Boots agreed. “What’s the occasion?”
“Bonding. We never hang out just the two of us,” Cathy said, flinging herself on Bruno’s empty bed with a grin. “Got any glasses?”
They drank Midori and Sunny D out of a mug emblazoned with the Molbonian flag and a thermal tumbler sporting a Montreal Canadiens logo, watching Bruno’s Anne of Green Gables DVDs. They took sips whenever Anne lost her temper, whenever anyone in Avonlea said her full name, and whenever she forced another dose of ipecac on poor Minnie May--gulps for breaking the slate, breaking her ankle, the liniment cake and sinking the skiff. Boots had to dissuade Cathy from “pouring one out” for Matthew at the end, but he agreed to a toast that had them both tearfully finishing the last swallows of Midori right from the bottle.
Later, they sat on Bruno’s bed playing Jenga, the blocks balanced on an old backgammon board.
“We should watch ‘Academy Blues’,” Cathy said suddenly.
“I am no longer drunk enough to watch a Jordie Jones movie,” Boots reported.
“Spoilsport. Whatever happened to good old Cutesy Newbar, anyway?”
“Bruno skypes with him sometimes,” Boots answered. “He’s in a new movie. An ambassador’s son gets stuck in a hot air balloon and makes friends with the locals.”
“Sounds… familiar,” Cathy grinned, holding her recently liberated Jenga block high in jubilation. “Where are you going to school next year? Do you know yet?”
“McGill,” Boots said, tapping gently at a middle piece.
“Being at school without Bruno?”
Somehow, Boots had managed to avoid thinking too much about it. If nothing else, he’d finally have the anonymity he’d thought he’d always wanted.
“Diane’s going to Princeton, stateside.”
“What about you?” Cathy, like Bruno, was uneven academically, but her parents were rich enough that it really didn't matter.
“I don’t know yet. Probably UBC, if I go at all. Where’s Bruno going?”
“Brown. They have a good Public Policy program, and he’ll do some grant writing.”
“Picked your major yet?”
“History, maybe? I don’t know, though. I think after a school career like mine, becoming a teacher would be karmically horrifying.”
“You’d be a great teacher. And The Fish would be so proud,” she said, punching Boots in the shoulder and knocking down the Jenga tower in the process. “I can see him now, shaking your hand and presenting you with a key to the Hall in five years…”
“Don’t be a jerk,” Boots warned. Cathy stuck her tongue out at him and swiped the board and blocks off the bed, sprawling out and yanking Boots down beside her, hip to hip.
“I’m absolutely serious. He spends all his time pretending you make him crazy, but he’s got your back. If only there was an authority figure who would write me a glowing letter of recommendation…”
“Oh shut up, you know you’re facebook friends with Peabody. She thinks you’ve got spirit,” Boots said, poking her companionably in the belly. In the gentle haze of booze, Cathy’s haphazard ponytail slipped cool as a breeze against his flushed cheek when she sat up to strip off her shirt.
“Only so I can keep an eye on her,” Cathy replied, kissing his chin. Boots jerked away from her as if he'd been scalded.
“Are you--are we--what is happening right now!?” A little alarmed and maybe more than a little turned on, his skin prickled with anxiety and confused arousal.
“Admit it," Cathey sighed. "You know you’ll have zero chances to lose your virginity with Bruno as your wingman." Boots couldn’t disagree. Privately, he thought his virginity would remain safely intact as long as Bruno remained within the contiguous Canadian border. "And Diane had a boyfriend at summer camp when she was fifteen. I’m tired of waiting around.”
Boots was strangely unsurprised at the thought that Diane had beaten them all to the world of sexual experience. She was quieter than Cathy, but steadier, knew herself better. The fact that Cathy had apparently kept a secret for over two years was far more unusual.
“All noble reasons,” Boots said as tartly as he could manage half in the bag with melon liqueur.
Cathy stuck her tongue out at him again and sat astride his thighs, her ass settling against his kneecaps.
“Losing your virginity to a good friend would be pretty terrible,” Cathy snarked, rolling her eyes. Then she frowned at him. “Unless.”
“You and Bruno aren’t--haven’t… You know.”
Boots squinted at her. He wasn’t sure if it was the light from the t.v. or the amount of Midori he’d had, but she looked a bit tinged in green. Her weight was somehow both comfortable and tension-inducing.
“Made out. Done it. Had sex. You know, with each other,” Cathy said.
“Wow. Uh, no. Nooooo. Nope.”
There may have been a few awkward moments with Bruno barging into the bathroom while Boots had been in the shower, and vice versa, but stuff like that happened to everyone--especially, famously, and repeatedly to Sydney Rampulskey.
“I didn’t think so, but Diane is convinced you’re secretly in love with each other,” Cathy said, apparently taking his answer as permission to unhook her bra and lean down and kiss him.
For a long moment, Boots held perfectly still. When Cathy broke away, she sat up and undid her ponytail, her dark hair a glossy stripe, the curling ends just tickling the top of her smooth, white breast.
“So. You want to join the world of fun sexy makeouts or what? I brought a condom. Two, even.”
Boots considered: Cathy was vibrant and pretty and fun. Clever, evil and stoutly loyal, she’d been front and center for most of the terrible/incredibly hilarious things that had ever happened to him. She smelled nice and she tasted like melon and Sunny D and he had always been very, very fond of her.
“We can’t tell Bruno,” Boots heard himself say.
“Jesus, no,” Cathy agreed. “Take off your pants.”
Cathy and Alphonse met them at the door of the hall an hour before the wedding. Giving them a shrewd going-over, Cathy had them lace their fingers together and nodded in brisk approval. "You'll do. Remember, PDA is the name of the game. If Diane is looking your way, you're gazing into each others' eyes like lovesick twits. I'll see you at the wedding march." She waved dismissively and hauled her date, a small-boned man with an easy smile whom she failed to introduce, into the building behind her.
Alphonse, who was sporting a purple velvet bow-tie and a monocle along with his ever-present bowler hat, made a show of looking around before granting Boots a peck hello. He smiled genially at Bruno, who was in a dove gray suit, his hair wrestled into submission for the moment with a generous dollop of fixative.
“You clean up nicely, Walton. You're almost worthy of my Bootsylicious, here.” he added, tipping Boots a wink. Boots could feel Bruno gritting his teeth.
“I didn't know you needed glasses,” Bruno said woodenly, clearly trying to make polite conversation.
“I don't. This is actually an advanced camera prototype. It's still in beta testing. Really, it's more than a camera, it's an optical head-mounted display capable of recording and reflecting projected images. I can interact with the world through an augmented reality. There's a touchpad built into the back of my bow-tie!”
“That's neat, babe,” Boots said dutifully. “Thanks for being such a good sport about this, by the way,” he added, to cover for the fact that Bruno looked like he was choking on his own tongue.
The thing was, Bruno claimed to hate a lot of people, but he rarely expressed real dislike. Alphonse was one of the lucky few who excited Bruno’s genuine ire.
"Save a dance for me," Alphonse said, kissing Boots again. "Bruno, remember to leave room for Jesus."
"This is what happens when you go to school for theatrical juggling," Bruno whispered hoarsely. “How is he even real?”
Boots wasn't quite sure himself. There was certainly an element of performance art to most of Alphonse's interactions with the world. But it was't like Bruno didn't have a flair for drama.
"Speaking of reality, we're supposed to be fabricating some in about half an hour."
"I'm ready," Bruno said. "Here, I bought us both some Burt's Bees in case Diane needs us to make out or something."
"Wow. I'm impressed with your forethought," Boots said, staring at the goldenrod tube, a little overawed. "But do you really think we'll be making out on command? Enough to require lip balm?"
"It never hurts to be prepared," Bruno said resolutely. "And it adds a touch of verisimilitude. Don't you want Diane to be convinced?"
"How do things like this keep happening to me," Boots wondered, as Bruno gave their joined hands a pat before dragging him to where the other groomsmen were milling around by the dais.
After a brief but heartfelt ceremony ("I can't believe they didn't use the vows I wrote them," murmured Bruno, obviously wounded), the guests removed to the reception hall.
The Montreal Science Centre’s Panoramic Lounge was hung with red, white and blue bunting: the colors of the Luxembourg flag. Each table set with a glass vase filled with rosebuds--the national flower. Underneath the murmur of the crowd and the clink of china, was the small music of the Goldcrest’s song, the Goldcrest being, as everyone knows, Luxembourg’s national bird. However, Serge, of Serge Tonnar and the Legotrip, had pointed out the awkward and inarguable fact that the flag of the Netherlands had been hung over the music stage.
“Oh, it is an easy mistake. Our flags, they are exactly the same design. Only the Dutch flag uses a very dark blue, you see, and ours is a nice, bright blue.”
Bruno, as always, took it in stride and asked him if he wouldn't mind living a lie. Serge, smiling, graciously agreed to pretend it was the proper nation's flag.
“It will be my gift to the bride,” he said, picking up his guitar. “Speaking of, now they should have a first dance, maybe?”
And they did: Nils, looking lovestruck and beaming, glided Diane around the floor to the tender hum of the concertina. She was a vision in a simple cream-colored satin gown, who looked ecstatic every time she glanced their way. Eventually, she caught up with them and tucked her clasped hands under her chin to coo at them.
"You guys, I can't believe it! When Cathy told me, I figured she was just saying what she had to in order to pry me out of the plane." Boots and Bruno shared a panicked look, Bruno giving his hand a quick squeeze. "But look at you! I knew you were in love. I knew it! And you're here! At my wedding! Where I got married," she said giddily. It was indeed possible that she was still feeling the effects of Cathy's ministrations. It was also a fact that she'd finished an entire bottle of champagne by herself. She reached up to kiss them each on the cheek before smooshing their faces together and shaking their heads gently. "I adore you both," she swore fervently, before skipping back to Nils, who was dancing with Diane's great-aunt.
Eventually, Bruno insisted on a slow dance. "Diane's been waving at us. Remember all those Scrimmage snorefests we had to go to? You should be able to waltz in your sleep," Bruno said encouragingly.
Boots did, in fact, remember how to dance, and his years of being team captain and current level of fitness assured him that he had the basic grace required. Bruno, however, felt constrained by slow music - no matter what was playing, any night at a club with Bruno ended in flailing and/or a Russian kick-dance, usually to the mild maiming of anyone unlucky enough to be nearby.
"If you dance with me, Alphonse will cut in," Boots warned. Alphonse had been hovering all night, his mustache looking fixed, his monocle determined.
"So what? Our love is real," Bruno said piously. "How about a kiss. Give Diane a little somethin' somethin'." Affectionate Bruno usually rolled in around beer four, Boots knew. Bruno was making suggestive eyebrows, and his hands slipped from Boots' shoulders to his waist.
"Please stop talking," Boots said, trying not to smile.
"Okay," Bruno said amiably, and bent his head to kiss him.
Graduation night, long after Elmer's ridiculously dull and theorem-filled Valedictorian speech, The Fish caught them moments before they left the hall for the last time, probably pre-empting an epic wave of nostalgic rabblerousing from Bruno that might well have stirred the hearts of the Class of 2002 to find within themselves one final riot.
"You two are personally responsible for almost every gray hair on my head," he said grimly, his penetrating eyes seeming to stare into their very souls. "Still--and I will never admit to this, so it's best kept to yourselves--I'll miss you. You caused more trouble in four years than any ten students in the entire tenure of my time at Macdonald Hall, but I was proud to know you. You're both smart and energetic, resourceful, quick to help and always well-intentioned, no matter how spectacularly, or how often, you fail. The word irrepressable comes to mind. Bruno, try to stay out of the news. Melvin--Boots. Try to keep him out of jail." He extended a hand, and Boots shook it gravely. Bruno pulled The Fish into a tight, back-slapping hug that made everyone in the room (even The Fish himself) laugh.
Later, in the parking lot of the Pancake Hut Chris Talbot's family had rented out for his graduation party, with a cab waiting to bring Bruno to the airport, Bruno handed him a tiny green glass bottle.
"What is it?"
"It's some fruity liqueur. It's from Cathy. She said to give it you on my last night in town."
Boots felt his heart thump hard enough to bounce off his ribs.
"Is that all she said to do?"
Because. After the night he'd spent with Cathy, he hadn't been able to stop thinking about how much more he'd have liked it if it had been Bruno instead. Bruno's enthusiasm, his cowlicks, the line of his jaw. Even Bruno's unfortunate (but mercifully infrequent) overinvestment in Axe body sprays hadn't derailed Boots from thinking about what it might be like to kiss him.
"No," Bruno admitted. His eyebrows tensed, and he leaned in to rest his cheek against Boots'. "I'll miss you. I'm kind of terrified of what might happen without you around." Boots, who felt the same, clutched Bruno's upper arm. Bruno skated a hand over the back of Boot's head and whispered, "I don't want to mess anything up, okay? Because I love you." And he kissed Boots square on the mouth, softly, and then flung himself into the cab. Boots, too stunned to say anything, blinked hard, and when he could see again, the cab's tail lights were shrinking in the distance.
They never talked about it again. They emailed one another, chatted online and made the occasional phone call, but discussion was limited to what classes were like, what a dick Edward was being to The Fish, and the series of muscle car heist films that Jordie Jones was currently starring in. Freshman year, Boots dated Stacey, Greg and Gina and then, briefly, Greg again, and none of their names came up. Then Bruno came for Spring Break. At the Delta Lambda Phi pool party, he asked Greg how he'd met Boots.
"We shared a poetry class first term. The professor was discussing the works of G. Gavin Gunhold--"
Bruno dropped his bottle of lager. Luckily, it fell into the pool rather than shattering on the coping.
"He's real?" Bruno gasped.
"I know, right?" Boots exclaimed in shared amazement.
Greg stared at them.
"That's pretty much what Vin said. Anyway, the TA, Raymond, jumped up and assured everyone that Gunhold was an existing and very important poet, and Vin started laughing so hard he had to leave the classroom. And after he'd caught my eye, I didn't know how I had ever missed him." Boots felt amazingly awkward as Greg tucked an arm around his shoulders. Bruno quirked an eyebrow at them and then peered at Greg intently.
“I knew you seemed familiar. You look a lot like a teacher we had in school." Boots blinked at Bruno in confusion before glancing at Greg--and suddenly seeing what Bruno meant.
"A hot teacher," Boots clarified.
"Yep," Bruno pronounced, nodding sagely. "You had a total crush on Professor Hamilton.”
“So did you!” Boots shot back.
“So what? Everyone did! His eyes were dreamy cerulean pools you could drown in. But your crush on him was monumental. Astronauts on the space station could see it. You dropped your books and blushed in every class.”
“Shut up,” Boots said weakly, feeling himself flushing helplessly just thinking about it.
"Aw, that's sweet," Greg said kindly.
"You seem like a good guy," Bruno said. "Maybe don't patronize your boyfriend, though."
Greg frowned again. And kept frowning. Pretty much until Boots broke up with him a second time.
That night, Bruno took him out to sing karaoke and the legend of Bootsylicious was born.
When Bruno pulled away this time, his hands were very warm against Boots' skin: one cupping Boots' cheek, the other curved around the side of his throat.
"Was that okay?" he asked in a small voice.
"Are we--is this for real?"
Bruno nodded haltingly and Boots tugged him close.
"Thank Christ," Boots hissed in relief. "Meet me out back in ten minutes." Boots still had to break it off with Alphonse, and it would take at least that long to get Alphonse to cut the camera feed.
They stumbled into one another six minutes later (Boots decided Alphonse would rather have it on film anyway), and Boots dazed himself hitting the back of his head against the museum's sleek wall--but Bruno kissed like a hurricane and his hands were a fucking miracle.
“Jesus and Mary and secular humanism,” Bruno breathed reverently, coming all over Boots, who burst out laughing, hiding his face in Bruno’s dark, messy hair.
They had only just finished pulling themselves together--Boots dabbing at his ruined shirt with a wet paper towel before giving up and just buttoning his jacket, damn the inevitable dry cleaner side-eye, Bruno finger-combing his hair into something close to presentable--when Cathy started shouting the place down.
“Toast,” Cathy called out, only kept from leaping on stage by her date, a relaxed looking guy who turned out to be named Imi. “Bruno, toooooooooooast!” Bruno, who was constitutionally incapable of not giving a speech when occasion arose, grabbed two flutes of champagne, and mounted the stage, towing Boots, still flushed, up the stairs behind him. Alphonse was frowning at him from the audience, and Boots gave him a sheepish wave, and squeezed Bruno's hand hard.
“When I think of Nils and Diane, I am reminded of the Luxembourg Motto, which in the original Luxembourgish is ‘Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn’, meaning ‘We want to remain what we are’. I know them, and I know that they’ll remain together as they are, partners and friends, for the rest of their very long, healthy, happy lives.
“So let us raise our traditional bowls of Bouneschlupp with blood sausage to the happy couple!”
No one could give a toast like Bruno.
Caught up in the moment, Boots leaned over and kissed Bruno soundly. Cathy wolf whistled, Diane cheered and the entire room burst into spontaneous applause.
Bruno looked pink-cheeked and pleased when Boots let him go to take the notecards from Bruno’s slack fingers. Turning to the microphone, he read the last announcement of the evening.
“And now, the dukes of Luxembourg’s music scene call all the single ladies to the floor. Serge Tonnar and the Legotrip, everybody!”
Taking his hand, Bruno tugged Boots off the stage and into the laughing crowd.
Boots had to admit it: Beyoncé sounded amazing in Luxembourgish.
By the way, Serge Tonnar would be lovely to have at your wedding, for real: De leschte Slow.
If you are old enough to drink and don't care for Midori, here is the recipe for Alphonse's Cucumber Basil Rickey:
3 basil leaves
1 cucumber slice
1 3/4 oz of gin
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
splash of soda
Cucumber and basil are first muddled with ginger syrup and then shaken with lime juice and gin. Strain over ice and top with soda water, stir. (The cucumber and basil remain in the shaker, but you may garnish as you wish.) Sip. Maybe discuss Wes Anderson films and the mounting legend of Bill Murray. If you're lucky and your company is good, your evening may devolve into strip Pictionary. (Although a lackluster boyfriend, Alphonse really is surprisingly fun at parties).