As you are no doubt aware, this past Wednesday was National Margarita Day.
While we usually hit a local brewery on Wednesday nights after indoor rowing practice, it seemed only right to find a place where we could indulge in the apparently time-honored ritual of drinking margaritas on Ash Wednesday.
We ended up at a wing and beer place. It wasn’t a place you’d normally go for a cocktail, but it was late, we were hungry, and we all had to get up for work in the morning.
We wanted to celebrate National Margarita Day, of course.
But only if it wasn’t too inconvenient.
There were two other customers, guys working on draft beers with their eyes glued to the gigantic television screens. The seven of us pushed two tables together and pulled off our coats and hats.
When the young bartender came over, I asked if she could make us margaritas.
“Absolutely,” she said, without the slightest hesitation.
We ended up ordering six margaritas, one draft beer, two basket of fries, and chips with salsa.
The pineapple glasses should’ve been our first clue.
We toasted and I took my first sip.
The fries arrived and I ate a few, taking sips of my margarita all the while.
I’m no mixologist, nor do I pretend to be any sort of margarita aficionado. My grandpa scooped my first margarita from a plastic bucket that he’d mixed—and frozen—himself.
You give me any combination of tequila, triple sec, and lime, and I’ll accept that as a margarita.
I took another sip just to be sure, and then glanced around the table.
“Does your margarita taste like…” I began.
“Pineapple!” Beth said.
So it wasn’t just me.
Our drinks weren’t just served in pineapples, they were filled with their juice. Closer examination revealed that the liquid itself was yellow without a hint of green.
“Didn’t you hear the bartender?” Helen asked.
“She was back behind the bar saying she couldn’t find the triple sec.”
So there was no triple sec in our margarita. No sour mix of any kind. That I could handle.
“But doesn’t it seem like…”
“There’s no lime in it?” Jess asked.
“That’s because it isn’t a margarita,” Chris said.
Reader, it wasn’t. Best I could tell, it was well tequila and pineapple juice.
With a collective shrug, we kept on drinking.
When the bartender came over, I noted that these margaritas had an “unusual flavor.”
“Oh yes,” she said, with all the confidence in the world. “We don’t make our margaritas with lime juice, we make them with pineapple juice.”
“Yes,” she said, then let us know, without apology, that this was her first day, and that the bar either didn’t have—or she couldn’t find—the lime juice.
So instead of coming back to the table and telling us she couldn’t make margaritas, she poured tequila into pineapple glasses and mixed it with the first acceptable substitute that came to hand.
She asked for forgiveness instead of permission.
There’s a life lesson here, I think.
Sure, sometimes accuracy is critical. If you’re making a rocket that’s flying to the moon, or filling prescriptions in a pharmacy you need to measure twice and accept no substitutes.
But precision—and perfection—is rarely necessary.
She knew what we wanted—food, drinks, and good conversation on National Margarita Day (a holiday we’d discovered an hour ago on out phones)—and she made it happen.
She called them margaritas, and so margaritas they were.
The details aren’t important.
In the end, we got exactly what we came for.