Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. An old saying which means, of course, appreciate what you were given, don’t be rude, be polite, say thank you. Don’t pry open that old mare’s jaw and confirm your suspicion that this lovely looking stallion may not be what it appears – at least not right in front of the giver. For example, let’s just suppose, hypothetically speaking, that you are thrilled and excited to have received an exclusive hand crafted wooden box from a puzzle maker who only makes a few of each design and only gives them to lucky recipients as gifts. It would be very rude, don’t you think, to appear anything but thankful, even if, hypothetically speaking, you have this nagging, sinking suspicion that maybe, just possibly, you aren’t completely, exactly “lucky” – maybe that wouldn’t necessarily be the perfect word. But it would be impolite to look that gift horse in the mouth, I know. In the case of the “Viper”, a new box from Shane Hales, you can’t really look inside anyway – he’s gone and covered the openings with a brush curtain which blocks the view.
|Viper by Shane Hales|
Viper is an unassuming little rectangular box with a hole in each end and a dark provenance which forces one to contemplate the depths of one’s own puzzle psychology. How badly do you really need to solve this? Why not just leave it alone? Haven’t you heard about the prior lives this has claimed? But it seems so gentle, a little box with some holes. What could be the harm? Of course, the holes are covered, so you can’t see inside. There’s some notion that something opens, but there’s nothing to be done outside the box besides rattle whatever it is inside making the noise. Doing this seems to upset the Viper, which makes a sort of hissing sound at this point. Definitely not an inviting sort of situation which would make you particularly excited about sticking your body parts into the holes, although this seems to be the direction things are going. The only other really good option is to leave the puzzle sitting out for your spouse and let her take the bait – unfortunately she’s not interested in puzzles. Hmmm, what about the children? Yes, they’re resilient, and not paying rent … Not a bad idea, but what if one of them died? She would never forgive you.
|Face the dark hole of destiny|
Damn it, ultimately there’s nothing left to do but follow Shane’s hale advice (see what I did there?) and stick your fingers inside the holes. He points this out in the letter which accompanies the box. In fact he says that you have to stick your fingers in the box, and that you should stop being a wimp. Yes, but of course he’s going to say that – he wants you to suffer! Perhaps I should have taken the “caution”, “live cargo” and “this end up” warning stickers on the international packaging more seriously. But I’m so trusting. At least I’ve lived to tell the tale. So none of you has to suffer the same bloody finger fate. Unless you’re all fools. Beware. What’s worse, Shane leaves an extra surprise inside “to help” you – only, it’s an empty, empty promise. I’m typing with one hand, by the way. Shane. So now it’s my turn to get you back. I’m curious to know why you seem to be obsessed with sticking things into dark holes, hmmm? Yes, you say you were inspired by Stephen Chin’s Mouse House, or at least you hint at it, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say something scandalous. You got stuck in a Chinese finger torture toy as a child, didn’t you?
|Lest you forget your tormentor|
Bravery rewards you and eventually, after losing a few fingers and some other pointy bits, you might even manage to open this dangerously clever puzzle box. You probably could use a drink, and possibly a transfusion. I took some inspiration for this toast from a classic concoction called the Snakebite, which you may know is half lager, half hard cider. Go ahead and pour yourself one of those while I get some bandages.
There’s also a lesser known Snakebite combination of honey whiskey plus Rose’s lime cordial which is served as a shot in finer establishments. I turned that into a bona fide cocktail, using bourbon and honey-lime cordial. I added a splash of blood orange juice for good measure (it was actual blood the first time I made it, thank you Shane). I call it, the Viper. It’s dangerously delicious. Here’s to clever bastards, crafty craftsmen, dangerous delights, and bloody good gifts. Thank you Shane, I raise my glass to you (with 3 fingers). Cheers!
|This pair is bloody good|
2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz honey-lime cordial
¾ oz fresh lime juice1/4 of blood orange juice
Orange peel viper garnish
Shake ingredients together with ice and strain into a favorite glass. Twirl the viper around the glass and hang the head over the side. Blood (orange) drops for extra gruesome effect.
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