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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bayou Rum: A Little Taste of Local Flavor

Bayou Rum, Louisiana Spirits, Lacassine, Louisiana

Just a few miles east of Lake Charles, Louisiana, a new distillery is attracting attention.  Room With No View took advantage of a beautiful day to stop in and see what Louisiana Spirits is all about.  Impressed with what we saw on the outside, we stepped inside and were disappointed to discover that we'd missed the last tour of the day.  A very gracious and apologetic young lady invited us to watch a short film on the distillery and assured us that we could still enjoy a taste test afterwards.

The film highlighted the use of Louisiana products in this locally owned and operated company.  Once it was over we learned just how local the ownership really is.  To our surprise, one of the owners of Louisiana Spirits was on hand and offering to give us a personal tour.  We were more than happy to accept.

Our host was Skip Cortese, part owner and one of the creative forces behind Bayou Rum.  (His partners are Tim and Trey Litel.  Trey is a former Bacardi Rum marketing and sales representative.)  After introductions we were taken back to the distillery floor where we could see a hand-painted mural depicting a scene from a Louisiana bayou.  Painted by Skip's brother, Peter Cortese, the scene evokes the days of old when rum was distilled by rum-runners paddling the back waters of this state.  In the center is T-Boy, heading out on a rum run.  That's him in the bottom right corner as well, with his bag of crawfish and a bottle of Bayou Rum.  He's wearing a no smoking sign around his neck which is a precaution he may have learned the hard way while working around his still.  According to Skip, T-Boy is on each bottle of Bayou Rum five times.  He assured us it was five times, though I've only found him four times.

We visited the bottling room first.  It is there that the bottles are first labeled then washed.  The label design was an eighteen-month process and I think their time was well spent.  There are many Louisiana products that cater to the tourists and end up looking quite tacky in their zeal to highlight what outsiders imagine is the Louisiana/Cajun culture.  But the Bayou Rum label has a classic look that includes an alligator, a French motto (L'esprit de la Louisiane) and the Bayou Rum seal with T-Boy at its center.  The new bottles are washed to ensure there is no contamination of the product.  And what better cleaning agent can you think of than rum?  This helps keep the rum as pure as possible.

Back on the distillery floor Skip explained how they processed the sugar and molasses.  (All of the sugar, molasses, and other ingredients come from Louisiana.  Louisiana produces more sugar than any Caribbean island.)  The distillation unit is a very clean operation.  Stainless steel shines everywhere save for the 18 foot copper tower which is the heart of the still.  The rum is drawn off from the center of the column; the heart's cut.  The heads and tails (the products taken from the top of the column as well as the bottom of the column) are sold off for fuel.  It is important that the column is made from copper; the presence of the copper in the process destroys the sulfides that would otherwise naturally end up in the rum.

Once drawn off the copper column, the rum can be used in several different ways.  Presently there are three rums produced here; Bayou Silver Rum, Bayou Spiced Rum, and Bayou Satsuma Rum.  A batch of rum can be bottled or put into barrels for aging.  The barrels, made from American White Oak (the same material used in the Tabasco sauce process), are charred on the inside which caramelizes the rum.  You can see in the image below a top from one of the barrels that demonstrates this.

It was fascinating to hear Skip as he worked his way along the tour.  His passion for the business is quite evident and this made the tour that much more interesting.  He was eager to point out that Bayou Rum is now available in five states along the Gulf Coast.  In fact, demand for it has grown such that Louisiana Spirits has had to be careful not to expand too quickly.  It is their intention to continue to build a strong customer base along the coast, though don't be fooled.  They are well aware of the tourists who flock to New Orleans and the Gulf shores and are quite pleased to hear of so many of them returning up north to their homes with tales of an excellent new rum on the market.

In fact, Bayou Rum is getting some impressive attention.  Bayou Spiced Rum was just named Best in Class (Spiced Rum) at the 2014 Miami Rum Renaissance Festival.  In March of this year Bayou Rum was awarded Best in Class by American Craft Distillers.  And Caribbean Journal included Bayou Rum in their 2014 America's 10 Best Rums.  In addition to these accolades, Louisiana Spirits is now able to proudly say they are America's most decorated rum.

Once the tour was over, Skip put us in the hands of Megan at the tasting bar.  Laid out in a neat row were small cups with all three rums.  (Megan assured us that it was not enough to get us in trouble with the many State Troopers prowling the interstate.  In fact, they are not allowed to sell drinks at the bar.  It is for tasting purposes only.)  After listening to Skip brag about their rum it was time to find out for ourselves if all of these awards meant anything.  We were not disappointed.

The silver is the smoothest rum I've tasted.  I'm not much of a rum connoisseur but my impressions of rum have always included a fairly strong fuel-aftertaste.  There was none of that here.  And the spiced rum wasn't too strong.  It was perfectly flavored so that you noticed it, enjoyed it, and weren't overwhelmed by it.  But the real treat was the last of the three; the Satsuma Rum Liqueur.  The fruit flavor is sweet, but there's just the right tinge of bitterness to remind you that this wasn't a mixed drink.  

And speaking of mixed drinks, the last taste of the day was a small serving of a Bayou Blossom.  Made of two parts Simply Lemonade and one part Bayou Silver Rum, we poured into this mix what was left of our Satsuma Rum sample.  I have a strong feeling we will be hearing about some new awards being handed out when the Satsuma Rum is entered into next year's competitions.

Once in the gift shop you'll no doubt want to get a bottle (or three!) to take home.  But while you're there, be sure to look around at the shop and bar.  Everything around you is beautifully decorated with a variety of historic materials.  The pews in the film room were made in 1852 and purchased from a New Orleans church that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina.  The timbers were reclaimed from a century-old textile mill in North Carolina.  Old bricks and wrought-iron fences have been re-purposed throughout.  The design, by Architect Randy Goodloe of Lake Charles, is really top-notch.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a mere gift-shop look this magnificent.

Be sure to get at least two bottles of rum so you can get the Bayou Rum bag you see below, though honestly I'm not sure how you could decide which rum to leave behind.  

Bayou Rum is available in most stores in Louisiana now, and many restaurants.  We were told that the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans is offering a drink they call a "Blonde Hurricane" which features Bayou Rum.

Room With No View would like to thank Skip Cortese for his hospitality and we encourage our readers to read more about Bayou Rum at their home page.  You can also follow them on Facebook.  To take a tour of the distillery just exit I-10 at Lacassine (exit 48) and you'll see Louisiana Spirits on the frontage road to the west.  Unless it is gone on a promotion, you'll see the Bayou Rum truck parked out front.  They are open Tuesday through Saturday.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Life's Television War of September, 1957

Life Magazine, September 30, 1957

The Golden Age of Television was in full bloom.  Already, viewers across the United States had been tuning in for several years to watch a bevy of what we now know as classic television shows: Captain Kangaroo, The Mickey Mouse Club, The Lawrence Welk Show, and everybody's favorite western, Gunsmoke.  All of these premiered in 1955.  Just a year later, such shows as As the World Turns, The Edge of Night, and The Price is Right joined in on the fun.

By the beginning of the 1957 season, viewers had every reason to pull up a TV tray laden with goodies every night of the week.  ABC premiered a promising new western on Sunday nights at 7:30 called Maverick.  Monday nights were a chance to catch the mix of dry and zany humor offered up by The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show on CBS.  CBS was also the channel to tune in on Tuesday night if you were a fan of The Red Skelton Show.  The whole family could spend an entire Wednesday night catching the new Leave it to Beaver (CBS at 8:00), Father Knows Best (switch over to NBC at 8:30) and finish up the night with The Ozzie and Harriet Show (switching yet again to ABC at 9:30).  Thursdays and Fridays offered up Dragnet and Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater.  Saturday was the night you just couldn't miss.  CBS dominated that evening with its brand new courtroom drama Perry Mason, followed by Have Gun-Will Travel (the number four show that year) and Gunsmoke (the number one show.)

The Number One Show of 1957

When Life magazine hit the shelves on September 30th of that year, a little war was waged inside its pages; a war for television viewers and their money.  While television had been around since about 1939, sales of television sets had jumped remarkably in the Fifties.  The total number of sets sold before the Fifties was just over 3.6 million.  Beginning in 1950 the yearly number of sets sold in the decade averaged 6.3 million.  That number had peaked at 7.4 million in 1955 and the manufacturers saw a decline in '56 and '57.

At this time it was estimated that 41 million homes had televisions.  Sales were bound to slow down.  Just getting a television--any television--was no longer the goal for most consumers.  Shrewd buyers wanted value and options.  This led to fierce competition among TV manufacturers.  And this was easy to recognize while browsing the pages of Life in September of 1957.

We start with Admiral:

Though some shows were already broadcasting in color (The Red Skelton Show at that time was sporadically filmed in color) the market wasn't geared toward such a radical upgrade.  Of the six plus million sets sold in 1957, RCA, the leader in sales, only sold 85,000 color sets.  The real upgrades, meant to grab the attention of those homes looking to buy a second set, were geared towards convenience.  Admiral proudly showed off their Son-r dual remote control, which controlled both the television and their high-fidelity phonograph.  The higher end model also allowed you to control an AM/FM radio.  According to this ad, the remote allowed the chair-bound viewer/listener to perform 11 services, which included powering the three devices on and off, volume adjustment, and channel adjustment.  I haven't done the math but there are eleven services in there somewhere.  Oh yes, don't forget, this remote also rejects phonograph records!  That sounds a bit rude, if you ask me.

I really want to know how Admiral came up with a remote that had no wires and no batteries.  Was it, perhaps, like those survivalist wind-up radios?  Did you turn the crank like Radar O'Reilly trying to energize the phone on M*A*S*H?

  General Electric took a shot at winning the readers with their boast of a slim silhouette and an electronic tuner.  Here you get some space-saving convenience coupled with a time-saver.  A nice combination.  Once you pre-tune each channel on the day you buy your set you'll never have to tune again.  (Hmmm, that seems a bit hard to swallow.)  Not only can you quickly change the channel from Leave it to Beaver to Father Knows Best, you'll also get these cool neon-like glowing coils of smoke pulsing out from the dial.  A great incentive in the rocket age!

Philco waded in to the battle with this mobile device.  No, not a mobile phone.  But in 1957, this was the equivalent of a mobile TV.  As their PR department says here: "Go ahead--put a Philco Slender Seventeener on your coffee table, room divider, anywhere in any room.  This new Philco is fashion-styled to look stunning from every angle.  It's the most compact, powerful, big screen table TV ever!  And so easy to carry, it's like having a TV in every room!"

Well, it's like having a TV you can carry around to every room, but I get what they mean.  And let's not forget it includes the exclusively developed Philco Germanitron, which is a long-life transformer.  I will turn on the applause sign for their new colors peacock blue and charcoal, which were in addition to the usual mahogany and blond wood finishes.  The price is certainly right: $159.95.  A big RCA 21" color model was $495.  Considering that the average income in 1957 was $5,500 and the minimum wage was one dollar, this price might just be worth it.  And hey, even the back is beautiful!  Just what you'd expect from a slender seventeener.

(I'm proud of this one.  It took four scans and a lot of work to get this full spread so pristine.)
Motorola steps up the war with this volley of glamour and technology.  Forget about GE's auto-tuner.  You can tune this TV perfectly from your easy chair across the room.  And the remote has the added benefit of looking like a fine packet of cigarettes.  In addition, the Golden Satellite has an electronic discovery that ends "warm-up shock" (which costs TV owners $10 million yearly.)  This "Tube Sentry" eliminates 3 out of 4 service calles, brings on picture and sound simultaneously, and triples (!) the life expectancy of every tube and other parts of your set.  (They should have reworded that.  It sounds funny: every tube and other parts of your set.  What does that mean, exactly?)

In the fine print we are assured that not only will the remote control your TV, but you can control it at the set, too.  We should also note that the two hi-fi speakers are tilted up towards ear level, unless you're lying on the floor watching Captain Kangaroo with a bowl of Cheerios in front of you.  The tinted safety screen is tilted down to eliminate glare, which is also useless if you're on the floor.  And don't forget: the UHF is an optional extra, and specifications are subject to change without notice.  But that's just the small print.  And with that gorgeous blonde alongside the lean, lithe look of the television's rich-grained, satin-finished hardwoods, who will notice the small print?  The dame in the dress helps to distract as well.

I'm not sure what is with the cowboy marionettes shown in the inset with the remote control.  I do know that five of the top ten shows that year were westerns (also known as "oaters".)  So this was a way to incorporate westerns, televisions, dames, dogs, and satellites all in one advertisement.  A massive carpet-bombing aimed at wiping out the competition.  However, I've never heard of the Motorola Golden Satellite.  Perhaps, despite their winning the TV war in this issue of Life with this over-the-top, grandiose, superb advertisement, they lost the larger war for the hearts and wallets of the television-hungry buyers of 1957.

Which one would you have chosen?

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Richer Life: The Image of the American Dream in 1950

General Motors and the American Dream

At the center of a small town people pass each other on the street, stopping to chat, kids show off their new toys to their friends, packages tucked under their arms, boxes wrapped in brown paper.  At the supermarket the special is Rib Roast.  Across the intersection at the appliance shop you can see a great white Frigidaire refrigerator displayed in the window.  It is not a hot day; jackets are worn by all save a few ladies and children who grabbed a sweater that morning.  But the sun is shining on the green hills outside of town.

It is a perfect day.

I forgot to mention the traffic.  There are cars scattered around the intersection.  A big dark Buick Eight has the right of way as it passes the post office.  There are a few GMC pickups parked at the grocery store.  A Pontiac or two, a few Chevys and Oldsmobiles.  A Cadillac.  What you won't see is a Ford or a Mercury.  No Hudson, no Studebaker.  Not in this town.  Not a chance.

You see, this town was designed and created by General Motors.  The town isn't real.  It's just an image that is printed in brilliant color for magazine readers to enjoy.  To look over.  To imagine that their lives could be a little better, a little richer, a lot more like the American Dream.

Because when you buy a car from the General Motors family, you're getting a "key to a richer life".  After all, their motto is "More and Better Things for More People".  You can't argue with that.

Let's let the GM PR department give us their own take on the small town life.:

This is Main Street, U.S.A.  It is unlike any other Main Street anywhere else in the world.

It is rich in contentment and well-being.  It bustles with hearty and wholesome activity.  And as you see and know firsthand, it revolves very largely around the family car.

Along every Main Street in America, General Motors cars are a familiar and trusted part of the rich, full life Americans know.  And this is so, very largely, because General Motors men have never ceased trying to improve on their best, have never flagged in their zeal to build better cars each year than they built the year before.

Because of their practiced skill in Research, Engineering and Production, the key to a General Motors car is recognized today as the key to greater value.  It is perhaps not too much to say that it is likewise the key to a rich and satisfying life.

It is, perhaps, too much to say.  But they said it anyway.

I love these old illustrations.  I can't find the name of the artist who did this great scene.  If anyone out there knows it let me know.  I'm also intrigued by the very small print which says "Hear Henry J. Taylor on the air every Monday evening over the ABC Network, coast to coast."  I could Google his name, but I wanted to see if any of you readers know who he was.

So enjoy the rest of the day here in General Motors land.  As you can see, it's just the right sort of day to take your toy airplane along on a trip downtown.  After all, your dad bought a GM car, and that means your life will be better and even a little richer.

Well, at least that's what they said back in 1950.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Is Coffee Ruining Your Marriage? Vintage Wisdom From Sanka

Sanka knew 64 years ago that coffee was a major contributing factor to marriages that were bogged down with fighting and arguing.  And the experts at Sanka had a solution.

I first remember seeing Sanka on my grandparents' kitchen table, nestled on the wooden lazy Susan next to the pill dispenser and the butter plate.  What I didn't know was that it was that jar of Sanka that kept my grandfather from shouting at my grandmother and pointing a surprisingly long finger at her.  It also kept her from jamming her knuckles on her hips and yelling unexpectedly vile phrases in his general direction.  Such, we learn, is the healthy marital benefits of Sanka.

Let's just allow the Sanka experts a chance to prove their point.

And there you have it.  Proof positive!  Sanka will remove those caffeine irritations from your marriage, bringing a halt to fights, ending your need to make rude gestures as you reject your wife's coffee.  No more jumpy, jittery upsetting days for you!  And you won't have to cut back on coffee.  All the worry has been removed.  Even better: Sanka has a new, improved flavor and economy!  What more could you want?  So enjoy your cup of Sanka and the sweet disposition that comes with it.  Your spouse will be glad you did.

(The full Sanka ad ran in Life Magazine, the summer of 1950.  Room With No View does not endorse nor condone the drinking of de-caffeinated coffee.  We prefer to drink the hard stuff: caffeine-soaked coffee.  No matter what it does to our marriage.  We'll take our chances!)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Zippo Dating Tips: What a Woman Really Wants in Her Man

Zippo Dating Tips as seen in Life Magazine, August, 1950

From a 1965 Popular Mechanics, just one year
before the first label from the Surgeon General
warned of the dangers of smoking.

I've always known that Hollywood glamorized the use of cigarettes in the years after World War Two.  And any man who wanted to be a real man puffed away on Camels, Lucky Strikes, Chesterfields, Viceroys, Winstons, and a host of other brands in the feeding frenzy that was the golden age of smoking.  We've all since learned how dangerous and destructive cigarettes are.  But did you realize that one of the real dangers of smoking had nothing to do with the cigarettes but had everything to do with malfunctioning lighters?  No, people weren't getting burned from these malfunctioning butane-fueled gadgets.  They were losing their chances to date bikini-clad young ladies.

Really.  Seriously.  This was a problem.  But there was a remedy for this terrible tragedy.  And Zippo had the answer:

Okay, first they had the question, which is more like a question and statement mixed up in a single sentence:

That's right.  Women wouldn't give you the time of day if your lighter wouldn't light up on that first zip.  As you can see, this bathing beauty in the polka dots is far more attracted to the man with the zippo, despite his lack of hair, his lack of shape (I'm not kidding, take another look, the guy has no shape at all under that prison sackcloth) and despite the fact that he looks like C.S. Lewis.  I mean, really, who smokes a pipe on the beach?  The man's spindly legs are more narrow than his Zippo.  And he's so white the white stripes on his shirt are darker than his skin.  But who cares, right ladies?  As long as his lighter strikes up on that first zip, he's a dream come true.

But if you don't see what the big deal is, then you just need to let Zippo explain it for you, which they are more than willing to do.  And as you'll see, you can get a Genuine Calfskin or English Morocco leather crafted case.  You have the choice of chrome or sterling silver, too.  Even better, you'll never spend a penny for repairs.  And it almost goes without saying that you can find Zippo lighters at better stores everywhere.  But they went ahead and said it anyway.

Lest you think I'm making this up, here's the full ad below, all together.  And please remember that smoking is just about the best way to give yourself cancer and/or emphysema, which is a really awful way to die.

Don't forget:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams: My View of a Man We Never Saw

Robin Williams.  As of this writing, just hours after the world learned of the death of Robin Williams, we have been told that the man who entertained millions has apparently died from suicide.  Shock is hardly a worthy term.  We are tempted to giggle; it must be a joke.  Some hoax thrown at us from the zany man who gave us Mork from Ork and Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire.  This is just the sort of gag he'd love to pull.  And when we'd learn of the hoax, when we'd discover how we'd been hoodwinked, we'd laugh, just as hard as we ever laughed at the man's improvised iambic pentameter.

We are also tempted to get angry.  How in the world could a man this successful, this accomplished, succumb to depression?  Who is he to be depressed?  How dare he?  Did he not learn anything from his own movies?  Wasn't he paying attention to what he'd been telling us all those years?  Didn't we see how tragic it was when Peter forgot how to enjoy life once he'd become an adult?  That we must seize the day and suck the marrow from its bones?  That in a world at war we could still look around and find those who need to be shown a little love and respect?  That we must never, ever, give in to despair lest we be damned in our own dismal hell for all eternity?

But we know that it matters little how successful the man was.  It matters little what inspirational moments he gave us on the big screen or our little screens at home.  We'll never know what was inside the man.  We may have caught glimpses of him.  We may have been witness to a few of the deeper recesses of his being.  But for those of us who never knew him--his fans, his critics, his voyeurs--we'll never know who he really was.

We'll read plenty about him in the next few days, weeks, and even years from now.  Exclusive interviews will tell us who he really was under all his Popeye muscles and Jumanji jungle clothes.  We'll learn the real Robin Williams shined through in his performance as a frustrated professor of English in a mid-century boys school, or that he was revealing the true Robin Williams when he slipped into his child-like wonder-filled beloved alien role of Mork.

That will all come later.  The sage co-workers and friends and estranged family members will nod wisely, speak softly, allude to inner demons, and finish with a profound anecdote that won't have a chance in Dante's hell of matching Williams' powerful delivery of such lines as "that the powerful play goes on...and you may contribute a verse."

I never knew this darker side of Robin Williams.  But let me tell you what side of him I did know.  You see, I raised five children from the early nineties until today, and Robin Williams played a part in that.  His were the movies my children picked out time and again to watch, re-watch, then watch all over again.  Hook, Aladdin, Flubber, Jumanji.  That pixie smile that erupted on Peter's face at the end of Hook was the same smile that blossomed on everyone's faces watching his movies.  All of us, adults included, were easily reminded of what it was to enjoy childhood, to imagine ourselves flying through the air, to see and partake of the wonders that surround us every day.  To find a friend and hold on to him or her to the very end.

And yet, even as he laughed, he would occasionally frown and allow a tear to roll down that cheek where once a smile had flourished: What Dreams May Come, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam.  These movies also came along for our kids, as they grew older, learning more about the world and all its complexities.  We didn't always agree with the world-views presented in them, but they were always invaluable for stirring debate and discussion with our teens.

And for this I would thank Robin Williams if I could.  And while it is too late for that now, I can still do it here, in this shocking moment just hours after his passing.  Only a few days ago I'd seen a movie listing with him in it and I said to my wife "you know, we haven't heard or seen anything about Robin Williams for a while." I don't know the whys and hows of what he went through these last few years.  There will be plenty of people who will want to tell us all about it.  And when that happens, and we think we've discovered the real Robin Williams, I suggest you take a little time to remember the man we did know.  The man on screen.  The man who entertained us.  The man he gave us on the world's stage.

He did, indeed, contribute a verse.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Myth of Stranger Danger

Don’t talk to strangers.  Every young child has been taught this.

Don’t take advice from strangers.  Pinocchio learned this lesson the hard way.

There is safety within your circle of friends.

These maxims are lies.

Despite our determination to teach children the perils of Stranger Danger, we adults throw caution to the wind along with the above guidelines.

The easiest way for an adult to share what is on his or her mind is with a stranger.  When something is really troubling us, we seek out someone who knows nothing about us.  We go to a therapist, a psychologist—some sort of professional counselor.  We do not go to a close friend.  Sharing your intimate secrets with a close friend only opens the possibility of losing that friend.  We have nothing to lose from an encounter with a stranger.  You can tell a therapist anything and walk away.  There is nothing invested there to lose.  It is what drives this multi-million dollar industry.  Talking with a stranger is simply easier.

Taking advice from them is easier as well.  Instead of listening to family members, who know us intimately, and have an intimate perspective on our lives, we would rather take the advice of strangers, who don’t really know us at all.  We can claim the expert knowledge of the professional as if it were some sort of prescription.  If it works, we’re happy.  If it proves to be useless, we can blame the professionals.  Yet again, there is safety in the advice of strangers.

We’ll even turn to the advice of non-professionals, such as celebrities, talk-show hosts, and bloggers for tips and tricks to get through this thing we call life.  This is even safer than using a professional.  We don’t have to share our personal details with these sources.  And since we don’t have to look any of them in the eye we don’t have to take their advice if we don’t like it.  We can freely graze from any and all sources out there and nibble at, ignore, and devour whatever we come across.

But we don’t just fear sharing our intimacies with our friends.  After all, this would suggest that our friends are shallow, disloyal, and completely lacking in empathy.  There may be some of us out there who believe this of our friends.  (Which would lead to the question: why would such people be considered friends?)  But there is something else at work here.  A truth that we don’t like to face.

The more we know a person, the more we know about that person.  And as much as we deny it, we are judgmental little nitwits, and the thought of going to our friends for help is sometimes just an impossible idea.  “Ask him?  The guy who can’t straighten out his own life?”  “Her?  She doesn’t know me!”  (This last one is especially hard for us to swallow.  We just don’t want to acknowledge that someone has our number.  That someone can see us for what we really are.  And if they can, they had better never say a word of it aloud!)

All of which leads us back to strangers.  We don’t see them as dangerous; friends are dangerous, strangers are the safe bet.  And despite the warnings, we are easily led astray by people we don’t know.  Even worse, we ignore the friends who could lead us back on the right path.

Of course, the real trick here is to trust your friends.  But that's often harder than trusting a stranger.