Sunday, June 15, 2014

Strength In Laughter Part 2, Kind Of (Re-Post)

Been one hell of an emotional couple weeks for me. Started last Sunday with me opening a Word document, the contents of which would set in motion a roller coaster of feeling that I have been strapped into and riding ever since. I sat at The Wine Country an hour before closing flipping the pages, the ones I printed out so I could focus on them rather than read them on the screen of the store computer. The pages containing a summarized history of the father I never knew. Much like I responded to the Uncle’s email I took if far lighter than the situation may have called for. Just hit print, even stapled the pages and began reading as if I were not at all attached to the story that I was reading. Got up to help customers on the floor, rang people up, answered the phone then went back to the pages like I were returning to some novel I had flipped face down, spine spread on my desk.

Wasn’t until meeting my husband at our Sunday dinner spot, Tracy’s Bar & Grill that the story began to seep in. I sat there watching him turn the pages, his face intent, eyebrows raising now and then, felling much like I were across from him, fingers slipping between the buttons of my top, fists gathering clumps of my shirt as I ripped the material leaving myself completely exposed. He slid the stapled sheets back in my direction while searching my face for some direction. My husband is the sweetest most patient man I know, I mean c’mon he’s married to this raving case, he has to be but, well heavy emotion and deep conversation kind of freak him out. I know this, respect this and truth be told I’m not much of a “Lets’ talk about our feelings” kinda chick so we work exceptionally well in that respect and yet….here I sat, the words I had read just an hour before becoming more real as his big brown eyes left the page and fell upon me.

I leapt into full rattle. Just jumped into the retelling of revelations and very faint memories, somewhat manic I suppose but I was sitting there so naked and feeling the twisted anguish of someone that loves me not knowing what to say to me. It was perfect for a moment, I was able to think not about what I was feeling and instead turn my attention to soothing him, reassuring him that I was fine….that was until one of those freakish coincidences slaps you in the face and leaves you wondering just who the hell is trying to reach you.

“Oh little Jeannie, you’ve got so much love” fucking jukebox. My heart started pounding like a fist inside my chest, like it had had quite enough of this ignoring bullshit. I was mid sentence and my words simply froze in mid air, my eyes watching my fellow Sunday night reveler, the one that had chosen that particular song, stroll slowly back to their seat at the bar. My mouth was still half open as if I had been hung up or searching for the next word but the truth was I had stopped breathing. I was holding my breath, jaw slacked and heart ripping away at my flesh. I turned back to my husband and had the wind knocked back into my lungs when I saw his face….his face looking at mine that was now streaming with tears. I hadn’t even noticed that I was crying but was helpless to stop it, “I am so not going to be this woman dude. I am not gonna be the crying in a bar chick. You get the bill, I’ll meet you at home” grabbed my backpack and made a beeline for my car.

Spent the next week with my heart and head wide open, devouring every bit of history my Uncle sent, stuffing the information in the gaping holes, coming to terms with the idea that bits of this story, my story will never be fully filled in now that my mother is gone. Been missing her a lot as of late, missing her and wishing she had been more honest with me, more open. Feels a little like trying to finish a T.V. Guide crossword puzzle from like three decades ago….so many of the answers no longer at the tip of anyone’s tongue…

I woke this past Sunday feeling like the Sunday before had happened months ago. Like I had spent an entire month in my head roaming, picking things up, blowing the dust off shelves and finding places to hang my father’s things; his almost photographic memory, his angst, his rebellious nature. Holding the two of us up in a mirror and seeing how we fit. Laughing as I realized that I was not so much unlike my mother, just much more like my father. I may never be able to solve seven across and four down but, well it’s really amazing to get just a little closer.

I popped on Facebook Sunday and made some comment about how I could skip my shower and be enjoying eggs, hashbrowns, steak and sipping a martini in 20 minutes. The first two “likes” came right away along with a couple people chiming in that they wanted to go. I sat in my jammies looking at the clock, could I really start my Sunday in a dark coffee shop bar? Um, yes, yes I could. Tossed the day-before curls in a loose ponytail, painted my face, sent a “Meet us there in 20 minutes” text and headed out.

Walked into Hoff’s Hut and went directly to the bar. I love this bar. Gotta love a bar when you are one of like five people under seventy right?! I was blinking wildly as my eyes tried to adjust, (note to self, get sunglasses dammit) and I searched for the other crazy chick that was down with wasting away in whatever-ville with me on a lazy Sunday morning. Found her sitting at the bar, (I would have gone for a booth God love her) sipping her Bloody Mary and waving at us. Took my seat and was there not two whole minutes before I felt a tap on my arm, “Do you remember when we were married?” older gentleman sipping a margarita with his buddy just to the right of me, “I do and I really miss you” I responded, the grin that he tried to choke down melted my heart and I let out the first of many giggles that I would share with my new ex-husband that morning. He told me “off color” jokes, I laughed and played along with being his wife, discussing the children…our two dogs of which he has custody and whose vet bills are the reason his alimony checks are late. I went back and forth between the ex and the people I had come with, my head far away from puzzles and sad stories, just laughing and feeling so vibrant.

“There is nothing sexier than a woman that can laugh like you do” such a simple comment tossed out by my ex’s buddy but even in my somewhat crazy headed state I let it hit me. Took his unbelievably sweet observation and the dreamy eyes with which he delivered it to my newly open heart. My husband, (the real one) and friend both shook their heads as I bid farewell to my ex-husband and his buddy who took their leave just as our meals were being served. Laughed my ass off as the hostess came into the dark bar, craning her neck before walking up to me and telling me, “I was asked to tell you that your husband just left” say what you will about bars and the people that might be found there before like noon on a Sunday but what I found at that Hoff’s Hut bar with Guy and Mike, well it was just the sermon I needed.


When I was designing my first tattoo, (only have the one but there is one or two more to come) I knew I wanted to include the motto that had seen me through many a dark day; the living on pancakes, the never quite fitting in, the being the mother of a biracial son that I wanted to make sure was never ashamed or in any way hurt by his differentness, the sitting in the front room of my apartment while my baby slept and I poured coffee for the police that were there to file yet another report. Strength in laughter. The one thing that no one could take from me was my ability to laugh, desire to laugh and find some bit of light in the face of things that I was unwilling to let crush or consume me. Took a couple of strangers in a dark bar on a Sunday morning to remind me but I started laughing and began feeling like me again…

Wasn’t even really thinking about it when I reached in my fridge and pulled out a bottle of wine. Don’t think I even really looked at the label, just removed the foil and drove my corkscrew into the neck of the bottle. The perfunctory motions of opening a bottle, the glugging sound as the liquid splashed into the glass, the replacing of the cork, the mindless saunter back to my little couch perch to peruse crap on the information super highway. Cigarette lit, television on, mind off and wandering as it tends to do. I reached down, my fingers taking their assigned places on the glass, the quick swirl, the half assed sniff, my lips parting as the cold lip of the glass slipped between them, the saturation of history….my history, the one that I’ve made for myself spilling across my palate. Francois Chidaine, Francois Chidaine Touraine….

How many times had I had this wine? How many bottles consumed with friends? How many cases sold? How many people now know and love this humble producer because of the words I’ve shared about him? This wine is just as much a part of me as any of the things I’ve learned over the past week or so, in some ways more. This kind of wine, the voice that exploded inside me that demands that I find, drink and share wines like these....this is the me that I know, the laughing me, the me that I think my parents would both be proud of. Could not stop laughing. Been so caught up in the before picture that I had lost sight of the after. I am a product of my parents, their love and passion for one another but it does not define who I am now.

I owe so much of who I am to people like Randy and Dale Kemner, owners of the store where I get to….where they let me thrive. Michael Sullivan, the importer that took me on that life changing first trip to Europe, answered all my questions, laughed with me, believed in me and my palate. Ron Washam and his undying love and support of whatever it is I do here, his finding some sort of beauty in this beast regardless of typos and horrific grammatical errors. Charlie Olken and his even knowing who this humble wine slinger and fumbling blogger was, in letting me tease his palate with grower Champagne, arguing and getting me to take another look at wines that I had long ago given up on. Eric Asimov for sending me that first message telling me that he read me and admired what I was doing here. Thomas and our shared and understood love of the fried potato. Alice and her palate that I understand, her relentless voice and strength when I know it’s not always easy. Jess and Dave for flying or driving out to visit me and partake of my tastings, you two have no idea what that meant and still means to me. Another Day of Crazy, chris, Kevin, Michael Hughes, Benito, Heather, Vicki, Andy, Bill, webb, Sara, John Kelly, Stephen, Alfonso, Nico, Jeremy, David and Wayne….the list just keeps growing and just so you all know, with your help and support, so do I. Thank you. Thank you all…

Just felt like I needed to get that off my chest
There, now you own it
Now I can get back to my silly nonsense


webb said...

Silly nonsense - not! You are the bravest woman I know.

Filling in the blanks so long after the fact can be really tough. Remember most if us fill in our blanks day-by-day and take in the slings and arrows one at the time so that who we are "at our age" was slowly and less painfully built.

You've done it pretty fast over the last few months and are having to deal with the whole damn quiver at once. And you are dealing splendidly.

Oh to have your voice - just once.


Alfonso Cevola said...

eulogy for your ex-husband's ex-wife?

now I need a drink...or an editor...or both.

xoxo back atcha gal

Romes said...

Back at you - your words have taken me on a gamut of emotions for 2 years (can that be true?). I still get a giddy feeling when I open my blog roll and see you have posted, not knowing what emotion you will take me to that day and fully drinking it in, even though my office mates probably find my laughing uproariously or sobbing like a baby (right now), or needing a nooner a little queer!

You have a place in my heart and my palate always, even if I don't post here or facebook often, it isn't that I'm not thinking of you.

And finally, I finished my last bottle of Chidaine Sat night/Sunday, so is it time to get some more? Is the Rose on its way? And for some reason that sexy Jura chardonnay has been haunting my memory too!

Love ya chicky, and hopefully someday soon you will understand and accept why we all love you too and why we fly across country to be with you!


Anonymous said...

The laughter ... the laughter that is so much more: a release, an unburdening, a sharing, a joy. I had that thought Sunday after we 'went to church', that sometimes we need that laughter- that freedom to be ourselves- more than we need anything else. I'm lucky to be able to share in the laughter with you. Hugs and shit... back to the nonsense we go.

Thomas said...

Yeah, but you can eat the fried potatoes; right now, I can't!

Interesting coincidence once again: just this week, through a strange channel that popped up without me searching for it, I now hold a copy of my maternal grandfather's death certificate plus a newspaper article about what happened--he was shot in the liver, in the Bronx in 1928.

My mother had told me the story, but now I hold the proof.

vickibarkley said...

Of course, if we'd gotten a booth, you'd have never met your ex-husband!
It was a wonderful time. I love you, I love Call-o, and I love "wasting" an afternoon with some well-earned R&R with you!!! kisses, and wine with flava!!!!


Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks for getting it....and understanding. Feel like I am taking this all so strangely so that Sunday sermon was just what I needed! Not sure about this whole "voice" business but you could do it too, just takes the wee morning hours and a bottle of wine!

I thought YOU were my editor. Where's the emails regarding my typos and misspellings? Ah well, I adore you Gigante.

Quit being so sweet! Gonna make me tear up and some junk. It's been such a treat getting to know you and the fact that you continue to read, after all these years is a very humbling thing for me. Have not heard about the Chidaine Rose yet but will let you know when I do!

Another Day of Crazy,
Started my "Church" with your chat on Sunday morning which was perfect as well....needed to share some of this, on a smaller scale of course and you are such a great friend for listening. Feel lucky that I know you...

I can eat those fries, shouldn't but I do and I will love them for the both of us until you can get you some too.

Well if I hadn't met my ex I'm not sure the day would have unfolded as it did....Flite Room? Really?! Was a much needed day of frivolous behavior, thank you for joining me. I love you crazy girl!

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

It doesn't take anyone special to recognize your talent. Why, just look at that list of names you provided!! There's your proof of that. I have praised and supported your work because I know what it's like to be a writer, spend all that time in that dark, lonely place in your brain. When someone walks in and shines a light, tells you you're amazing, it helps. It gives us strength.

That I was able to occasionally make folks laugh at HoseMaster was very rewarding for me. Often it is laughter that saves us from the darkest times. We are never more attractive that when we are smiling and laughing, unless you count our driver's license photos. Making someone laugh who is struggling is an enormous gift. Being able to laugh at a tough time takes courage and wit. You, My Love, and Courage are inextricably linked, like Barry Manilow and nausea. It's why we all admire you.

So what am I, your fourth of fifth husband? I'll take the position. You pick it.

I love you!

k2 said...

Nothing silly about it Sam. You meet adversity head-on, flip it "the Bird" and move your sultry, provocative, lavish, infectious, intimate world into our hearts and minds comfortably and happily, unselfish and unfettered by anyone who can't see your ability to captivate, intrigue and reach out, in all your vulnerable glory to all of us ogling your world through the windows of our laptops. Cheers!

Eric said...

Have to admit, you've piqued my curiosity about those tattoos!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Your going to let me pick the position?! Hmmmmm how's your lower lumbar? I've missed you so and I love you so very much!

Well that about wrecked me kid. I felt myself holding my breath again. Not sure I am capable of all of that but if even one of those things is true, well you have made me feel very proud. Thank you. Wow. Just thank you...

You sir have always been so kind and supportive of this silly place and the somewhat ruffled woman behind it. Cannot thank you enough. I can however send you pictures of the ink, you can compare mine to STEVE!'s. Thank you for chiming in love, means the world to me.

Sara Louise said...

That was a good vent (and great read). Happy you were able to get it off your chest :-)

Charlie Olken said...

Hi Sam--

Last week, I wrote a small piece about a mentor, a wine biz giant when those kinds of folks were few and far between, and you were kind enough to comment on it.

He had passed away at 94, and you joined in my celebration of his life and shared my sadness.

It is your humanity that makes your writings so important to all of us who know and love you.

It is your humanity that makes your writing important to the world. We are but your servants and admirers.

Please keep writing. We need you. The world needs you.


Samantha Dugan said...

Well thanks for reading my exhale of sorts. I needed that.

Sweet Charlie,
You are something else. I guarantee that no one needs me, well aside from my son maybe but the fact that you and so many others seem to want me around, does more for me than you can possibly know. I love you Sir Charles, thank you so much...

Dave said...

Dearest Sam, another big backatcha, and yes, we all really do need you. Your courage and compassion are most inspiring. I will never know anything of my father, but have been fortunate having located my birth mother some 15 years ago and getting to know my three sisters and their wonderful families. Here's hoping this journey of yours brings you even more love and joy.

Hogs and Quiches

PS Your "ex-husband" sounds like a real hoot

Samantha Dugan said...

If I'm any kind of inspiration I think we are all in trouble! But thank you for the sweet comment. Congratulations on the locating of part of your family and for having it turn out so well, for the additional family...very cool darlin'. Oh trust me, the ex was something else!

Eric V. Orange said...

No matter when I pop in Sam, I find something you've written that is deeply touching and sincere.
You are gifted.


Samantha Dugan said...

You, like so many others, are too sweet. I write a silly sometimes-about-wine blog, get to share myself with all of you and the fact that you all open your hearts to me still baffles me but, I am so very grateful to you all...

Do Bianchi said...

hey Samantha, so glad that you are part of our lives... and there's always a lot of love and good vibes for you chez Parzen whenever you need some or just feel like shooting the shit... :-) (and there's always some Loire Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge for you too!)

now that we're all grown and we've lived all these with the fathers we were given by fate and but never "had", you'd think that we'd be "okay" with everything. Over it... "it was a long time ago" "I'm fine with it"... but what I've found is that it still hurts just as much as it did when we were little. Maybe even more now because we look around at the world and know where we stand and what our responsibilities (and shortcomings) are and we think (at least I think), "how could he turn his back on me the way he did?"

Anyways, you're one of the coolest people that I've met through blogging and I love your blog... and there's always something on the stove and a good bottle of wine in the fridge at our house in Texas when you need it lady...

ti abbraccio forte forte

Winey The Elder said...

The chorus of your affectionate fans lilts loud and clear. Muchos bezos y abrazos, mujer.


Samantha Dugan said...

These were re-posts from a couple years ago...should have said that, (and have since posted that in the title line) but it seemed like the right day to share them again. I, as always, so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. You are a gift to me dear man.