Thursday, September 9, 2010

Heads You Win. Tails....Try Again

I recently recommended some wines for a new friend whom I knew loved wine but I had no idea what kind of background or experience she had. What she had tasted and loved or hated before. This is always a rather uncomfortable situation for me, no one wants to give a new buddy the third degree….especially when one of us, (that would be my chunky ass) is in the wine business and the other is not. Until I am able to gauge your palate or you feel comfortable enough, (also where the whole wine business, chunky ass thing can be a roadblock) talking wine with me then there is little above trial and error for me to work with. Kinda sucks for everyone really, the one forking out the cash money for the bottles that they end up not caring for and for the “wine professional” that looks like they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about. Just a slightly bumpy road at times but once the lines of communication are open ala, “That sucked. Can’t believe you told me to buy that” and the “Okay she doesn’t care for soft acidity…try this” things can and will fall into place. Takes tremendous faith and trust and I know, after getting burned a few times that can be a lot to ask but…trying again can bring you so much pleasure if you are open to it.

I spent last Sunday evening with a woman that I have only known for a short time but something about her voice, her spirit, and her not invisible pain drew me in…I knew her. I had seen her before, seen that tight shouldered, head straight but head cocked…listening for the steps behind her speedy stride. I knew her, knew her like I was slipped into those flip flops walking briskly with her. I know her so well….

We sat together Sunday afternoon, chatting and sipping Pastis, (her first…not sure she loved it. Can’t blame her) letting that mildly awkward welcoming of a relative stranger into your home and dropping off of your overnight bag in a relative strangers home, feeling settle as the calming effects of the booze started to slow down our anxiety. Once the glasses were drained I offered her some red wine and made my way to the living room wine fridge with that little pang of, “Oh shit, what to pick?” nibbling away at my side. I went safe and grabbed a bottle of juicy domestic red. I figured we were not eating so the soft, plushy and seasoned nicely with oak flavors would be pleasurable for her. Hoped it would be anyway. Our conversation shifted to wine…go figure right? This, this was when the comfort level was elevated, thank you hours of reading each other and a bit of Pastis. She asked a few questions about the wines I like and before I knew it I was back in the fridge and grabbing her a second glass to do a side by side. Poured her a little Cabernet Franc from the Loire and our geek flags started flying. Her handing me both glasses asking me to describe what I was smelling, me admitting that I could not get much off the domestic wine due to its blast of ripe fruit and creamy vanilla oak notes.

Now before you California wine lovers jump on my neck I have admitted over and over again I do not see this as a flaw in the wines as much as I see it a flaw in my skills…I get blown out by primary. It’s a defect and I am willing to admit it…and just as willing to say that I find that kind of a turn off, much like I find a man that is swimming in cologne, I miss out on all the savory and sensual underneath. Give me salty, gamey and earthy everyday over polished and primary. Just a preference, what makes my heart pound and gets my juices flowing.

We went back and forth for a bit about the wines and I left her with her two glasses of red while I sipped away on my most loved Chidaine Touraine. Talking, sniffing and then just talking and before I knew it she was at the bottom of one of her glasses. “Which was that?” I asked her secretly already having a sinking suspicion which it was. “Oh, it was the Bourgueil” she responded in a slightly surprised tone. Damn I love it when that happens. It was not that she liked one better, as a matter of fact she was quite open to both styles but in that setting, two women opening up to each other…lost in those exposing ourselves conversations, well the little cabernet Franc was just friendlier to sip on. Not better. Not tastier. Just willing to take a backseat to the situation…not unlike how they play with the plate. Just sayin’

I stayed up until 5:30 in the morning chatting with this no-longer-a-stranger, stranger. Her little frame tucked into one of my oversized chairs, her jaw strong and defined…I marveled in her strength and courage. Listened and with each telling of selfishness, hatred, anger, arrogance and domineering and controlling behavior I noticed I was seeking comfort…both by hearing her not unlike my story and in my glass. Drank too much. Squished down all the picked off scabs with glass after glass of wine. I wish I would have said more to her but hoped that she found some kind of relief in seeing the same fight, the same fear and frustrations had formed my jaw too….hoped even more that she found something to hold on to in my retelling of my own struggles and where I find myself now. Life, love, wine…it’s all a flip of the coin and heads you win, tails….you have to try again. Giving up and settling will never give you what you deserve after fighting so hard. Trust me. Thank you for spending the night with me…you are a person I long to know more about, hope to know for a very long time and…admire.

I woke yesterday morning to a very sweet email from Charlie Olken. “Hey my new blog has launched you should check it out. There is a new post that should be up soon, if it’s not go back later as I think you might find an interesting read” I had of course seen The Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine blog, I adore Charlie and even if our tastes are vastly different I know that there is much I can learn from him. Well that and I completely and wholly adore him. A fair, balanced and giving of his heart and support man like that is very rare…feel lucky each time I see his name either here on my blog on in my email.

Popped on his new blog and read a fine article about wine critics, sent him an email telling him how much I enjoyed it and went about enjoying a day of recovery after a boozy and somewhat emotional couple days. Got another email, this time an alert from this blog telling me that someone had left me a comment….on a post that was months old. What the hell? Read the comment and followed the link the commenter had left me….to Connoisseurs’ Guide’s new post, the one I guess Charlie was nudging me to see. I sat there, one hand pressed firmly across my mouth while tiny tears bounced off my fingers. A tribute of sorts, to me…from one of the people in my business, in my life that I respect most of all. With my heart thumping away in my chest I wiped my eyes and let him know how humbled I was by such an honor.

As the day went on I went back a few times to see if he had responded but instead of his voice…there were others. People who have been touched by my words or by the wines I have exposed them to, it was simply overwhelming…or so I thought. Just when I thought it was too much there was another voice, one that had been silent for weeks and one that I missed so much that just seeing the name made me gasp…literally gasp. Ron Washam…HoseMaster, my internet “husband” and my partner in anti-wine blog wine blogging. He had stepped out from behind the now silent voice of the irreverent, hilarious, blisteringly talented HoseMaster and here he was…lifting his veil of silence to say loving and wonderful things about the stories, my voice…the me that I share here.

I spent the remainder of the day thinking about choices, the good the bad, the truly destructive…the ones that save you. I spent the first half of my life…shit more than that entwined with men that were nothing but cruel to me…dismissive and down-right evil. Some of them just lost and suffering from wrong choices of their own. A grandfather that thought that pointing out each and every flaw was the funniest thing ever. A father that would blow pot smoke in the face of his five year old daughter right before he nodded out from his last hit of smack. A man that was suffering from a sexual identity crisis that would make me stand before whatever group of hot young guys he just picked up at the bar and laugh at me as he told me no one would ever love me…how ugly I was. The way I sought out men that treated me in the same way. The fear, the running, the lowering of my head, the decades of fear, broken teeth, broken bones, broken homes….the finding of the love I wanted and needed, the feeling important, beautiful and special for the very first time the second I had the tiny fingers of My young son resting in the palm of my hand. Heads you win, tails….try again.

After pulling myself off the floor and actually letting all that had transpired over the past few days settle around me I looked at my sweet husband and said, “I need you to book me a flight to Northern California. I need to see and touch these men that have touched and changed me” and just like that I had a ticket in my inbox and a plan. I’m coming guys. Ron, Charlie, John and Tom…you four have been so supportive and loving of me and what I do here, of my silly voice and rambling. You are now like tiny fingers in my palm, I feel you in my heart and now I need to actually wrap my arms around you, be able to recall your scents when I see your name just as I do with the wines that captivate me and steal my heart. Your openness and willingness to adore me, well it has made me willing to…try again. Thank you. To these men, to the woman that sat up with me, drinking wine…being open to my suggestions even though I stumbled a bit trying to figure out her palate, for sharing her life with me….none of you can possibly understand what this means to me but…you have my heart wide open to trying again.

Heads you win
Try again


Thomas said...

Watch out, Sam. You may find yourself wanting to stay up north--I know that when I go there I find it hard to come back East.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh I love Northern California. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world least for now, I am an LA girl and I still love it here. I simply hope each of those cats has time to see me. Oh and you can bet your furry, um...self that should I ever find myself out east I will be sending you the same kind of, "Um is there anyway chance you would have time to meet me?" email.

John M. Kelly said...

Sam: When he first heard the theories of quantum physics, Einstein said: "God does not play dice with the universe." He may have been wrong about sub-atomic physics but he was on to something larger. When we are flipping a coin the results of the coin toss may be random, but what the results mean is up to us. Lately I've decided that my reaction will be: "heads we win; tails... we win." See you soon.

Anonymous said...

Oh girlie, you have no idea... I needed that night as much as you, to brace me before what I didn't know was coming that was going to knock me (literally) back on my ass.

Sorry about the hangover, lol, but thank you for introducing me to a whole new experience and pleasure. I'm tasting, feeling, savoring everything differently now.

Samantha Dugan said...

Your fantastic attitude is one of the reasons I can't wait to meet you...well that and I am so curious to see what my "sibling" is like in person.

Another Day of Crazy,
You humbled me with your candor and trust lady...reminded me to hold tightly on to the things, the people, the love that can be your reward if you continue to fight. The road while treacherous and painful at times does lead somewhere. Of this I assure you. Just as these men I am talking about have made my life and story part of their lives...embraced me for all of it, you are now part of my story too and I am here adoring you when ever you need me. Nuff girlie shit..fist pump at ya sweet girl!

Thomas said...


I don't know about the three others, as we have never met in person--almost met Ron, but it didn't happen.

I've dined twice with Tom and all I can say is: the next time is his turn to buy...

Each time was lovely and each was in his favorite Sonoma restaurant; that was before he moved south. before you eat anything at his table, you must finish a cocktail!

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Only on your behalf would I have broken my self-imposed blog exile. I may have disappeared from the wine blog world, but I shall never disappear from yours.

I am the one who is honored by your admiration and love for me. Trying in my own life and in my own way to live up to your example of courage, compassion, fearlessness and wisdom has made me a better man.

Your new friend could not do better than to follow your example of gritty determination, intelligence and faith. You will be a gift to her as you have been a gift to me.

I am a person for whom the toss of the coin has almost always gone in his favor. I'm one of the luckiest men to walk the planet. I have a hundreds of examples to prove that, but none more powerful than our love and friendship.

Can't wait to have you up here on my home turf, though I'll have to share you with that other riff-raff. The wines are up here are all Californian, and very primary, but the men couldn't be more complex and aromatic.

Charlie Olken said...


Come on up, girl. It is high time that we got together--and as I have not met Tom Wark or John Kelly, although as we all who speak so often via Internet know, we are friends and it is time to lift a glass and break bread together.

What you call "a tribute of sorts" is a full-on statement of admiration for your amazing writing. If anyone reading this has not also read your earlier tale about the women who came into your store to buy a wine of celebration (see the link in an earlier blog this week), they cannot know how deeply you touched all of us, moved us to tears.

It was the single most moving wine-involving piece I have ever read.

That was no little tribute that I posted earlier this week. That was the full monty. I cannot expose myself more than I did in telling you how much your writing, and you, mean to me. You bring out the good, the compassionate, the loving hearts in us all.

Come on up, girl. We have partying to do.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks for the tip kid and I can assure you...never been a problem for me to finish a cocktail. Oh and darlin' thank you for your kind words over at Charlie's too...

Ron My Love,
You know you completely took my breath away with your kindness and ever loving support. You and I have both struggled with this blogging thing and just so you know, it has been my honor to be your partner or internet wife or whatever it is people think of us. You are and will forever be a great love for me and a man for whom my admiration and devotion is unmeasurable. I love you very much and I simply cannot wait to feel that big heart of yours up close and next to mine.

Charlie Baby,
Oh I am coming, you can bet your soon to be sipping Pastis ass on that one. You and your full Monty, (didn't want to brag too much but...I know what that piece meant to you and I will forever carry that pride with me.) gave me the swift kick in the ass that I needed. That and the tug at the heart strings that made me feel that if I didn't get some real life face to face time with you guys I might simply burst. Your "little tribute" wrecked me love...thank you. Thank you for understanding what I do here, hearing my voice, loving me and letting me love you back. I'm bringing the bubbles love...prepare for massive (and when you see me you will know it means MASSIVE) hugs and a night I am sure I shall never forget.