Last weekend we drove to Lynchburg, Tennessee, home of the Jack Daniels distillery. They offer free tours, and there's a tiny town center nearby to purchase memorabilia. Unfortunately, it's a dry county, which means sales and tastings are not possible. But they finally got special permission from the state a few years ago to sell a limited number of commemorative bottles in their gift shop, for the first time since Prohibition.
(I know what you're thinking. It's a very odd situation for a distillery in business for over 150 years.)
Every so often, they release a new commemorative bottle, and they arrange a signing day with their Master Distiller, Jimmy Bedford. There are a lot of collectors who show up to get his signature. He's kind of like the rock star of whiskey. Do a search on eBay for "signed bottles of Jack Daniels" and you'll see what I mean.
We packed up Helen and drove down early that morning. The line wasn't very long when we arrived, but someone brought a couple boxes of glassware to be signed. They set a limit on this kind of stuff, but apparently the limits didn't apply to this guy. So it took about 2 hours to get to the front. But don't you worry - I did a lot of glaring at him for everybody.
Brian bought a few bottles and chatted with others in line, while I did my best to entertain Helen in a room that really wasn't meant for kids her age. We played outside a little, but it was about 40 degrees so we couldn't do that for long. She said hi to everyone in line, played with a Christmas tree, and sent a Jack Daniels e-card to Grandpa B. from the computer in the lobby. It was 8 pages of gibberish, but banging on the keyboard bought me a solid 5 minutes of distraction, so I let her do it.
Finally, we were at the front of the line. I got out the camera, and Helen chose that moment to demonstrate her superior hair-pulling skills. Honestly, I can see the benefits of being Sinead O'Connor when she gets a fistful of my hair. Pulling back on hers doesn't work, either. We just end up looking like 2 girls in a junior high school fight. "OWWWW! Let go!!"
While Brian distracted her, I got my pictures of Mr. Bedford signing one of his bottles. I took Helen back and in a fit of spite, she took her pacifier out of her mouth and tossed it away. Normally, it hits the floor. But today, I wasn't that lucky. To my sheer horror, it landed on the table and skidded to a stop against Mr. Bedford's hand.
Time stood still. Tick .... tick .... tick. I didn't even know how to react. I honestly thought he would nod to a security guard and we'd be quickly escorted to our car. Oh well, I thought - at least we had one bottle signed.
Instead, he smiled and kept on signing. Everyone at the table thought it was funny. Brian gave the pacifier back to Helen and she miraculously behaved herself long enough for us to collect everything and leave. Thank you, Jack Daniels and Jimmy Bedford, for having a sense of humor and a lot of patience. And for not quickly escorting us to our car.
As we were leaving, I heard someone say they were taking a break for lunch. I bet Mr. Bedford was headed straight for a good hand-washing.