"There was more whiskey than water." "You bet your life he is," Bill said. "My old man's all right," Nick said. What does this set of conversations mean?
Bill and Nick had begun their afternoon of drinking with equal parts water and whiskey. Now, they are mixing their drinks stronger, with "more whiskey than water." They are determined to get drunk, what with the bad weather outside, the warm fireplace inside, and Nick's romantic problems hanging over his head. Their conversation has turned from sports and fishing and literature to their fathers, and both of the young men admire both of the dads. Bill's father, who is supplying the whiskey, is a painter who "gets a little wild sometimes." When Nick tells Bill that Bill's father is "a swell guy," Bill agrees.
"You bet your life he is," Bill said.
When it's Nick's turn, he tells Bill that
"My old man's all right," Nick said.
"You're damn right he is," said Bill.
This male bonding ritual, aided by the whiskey, is extending to the fathers. Both of the men prefer their own company to that of women, and it is not surprising that they speak so admiringly of their fathers without even mentioning their mothers.