Who knew? Dozens of centuries of Zen thought and practice, years spent by mindful monks and happy-go-lucky hippies hellbent on cleansing the brain of the relentless internal chatter, becoming "one" with the "universe" and whatnot -- and all they really had to do was make a pilgrimage to the Stagger Inn ... Again and hit up bartender Patty Hughes for an Orange Mind-Eraser. Buddha's kicking himself right now, because he now understands that in life one need not assume the lotus position to achieve profound clarity. All he needed was a rocks glass, two straws, some ice and equal parts Kahlúa, orange Stoli and club soda. Bingo: Clarity achieved.
You Are One, yes you are.
To study Buddhism is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to become enlightened by all things.
-- Dogen (thirteenth century, Japanese)
Or to put it another way:
To drink an Orange Mind-Eraser is to drink through a straw.
To drink through a straw is to forget the straw.
To forget the straw is to become enlightened by absolutely nothing.
-- Drink of the Week (21st century, Edwardsville)
The Stagger Inn ... Again, located in Edwardsville, is one of the best bars in the bi-state area. For nearly 30 years the downtown-E-ville bar has been pumping booze to locals and Southern Illinois University students, has been pushing local music on its customers, has been the standardbearer of clean, well-lighted East Side joints. Any St. Louisan in the mood for some drinkin' and designated drivin' knows that the 25-minute trek from downtown to downtown is worth it.
Want your mind erased while you're at it? Ask bartender Hughes for said drink. She'll load a glass with ice, then add a shot of Kahlúa. Then a shot of orange Stoli, followed by an equal amount of club soda. She'll pop the two straws into the drink. But don't stir; you don't want the liquors to mix. Relax your mind. Pay attention to your breathing. The goal is serenity. Now suck, and suck hard. Go. First you get the coffee taste, then the orange taste, then a quick fizz to cleanse the palate -- and the noggin.
Five minutes later, your troubles are gone and you're crossing your L's and dotting your E's. You're a tad mushy in the meatball, but you're all you. And you is OK.