Friday, March 18, 2011

True Grit?

“Sam eat your sandwich”
“Sand-wich indeed”

A couple of summers, before my little sister was born, my mother found a program at the local YMCA, a day camp that she could afford and that would indulge me in my most beloved summer activity, floating silently away in the water.

I grew up in a beach community, was a water kid from the beginning. Didn’t matter, ocean or pool, I was in from the second we hit the sand or chlorine scented concrete and would not get out until I got the “You have 5 minutes to dry off before we have to leave” alert. At the pool I would lock my legs on the blazing hot edge, pinch my nose, arch my back and plunge my body into the water pushing back until I felt the tiles resting against my shoulders. I would do this for hours, just float there seeing how long I could hold my breath, watch…upside down the frenetic activity at the shallow end of the pool. The legs wiping wildly, the sploosh of white foam as a body jumped in, the curious faces of my pool mates as they swam past the weird girl that was hanging like an underwater bat in the deep end of the pool. I loved the way my body would rock as the water was pushed to and fro, adored the absolute quiet and craved that big chest filling breath as I came up to the surface, panted and then took the plunge again. Pool time was for peace…

Now the beach was a whole other thing. This was where I would run, swim and ride the waves until my body was wrinkled and felt like it were about to give out. I would wiggle my body to deepest part of the cove and dig into the wet sand while I slowly released the air in my chest and watched the bubbles break along the murky surface. The dark cold water, the sting of salt in my little cuts and scrapes, the slight thrill of fear before planting my feet in the sand and with all my might, propelling myself through the frothy water, the cracking of waves, the lapping of water along the shore and the seagulls slamming into my ears and filling me with a rush that, to this day, has been hard to duplicate. So the pool was for tranquility but the beach only meant two things, total exhaustion and the worst lunch ever!

The YMCA took us to the beach twice a week and twice a week my mother would pack me a lunch that, had I not been such a freak (and like made friends and junk) I would have traded just about anything for, the cheese sandwich. White bread, mayonnaise….lots and lots of mayonnaise and one inch thick slabs of Monterey Jack cheese. Now let’s forget for a moment that we are talking summer in Southern California here, that the temperatures were often in the high nineties and those lunches were just stacked in portable plastic bins without refrigeration and that by the time we were….forced in my case, to eat lunch that thick, creamy swath of mayo now looked more like petroleum jelly than a condiment. No, that wasn’t the worst part. The most gag inducing part for me was having to remove the warm, squishy, sweating cheese sandwich from the plastic baggie, my wet fingers turning the doughy bread into a sponge and feeling that disgusting crunch of sand that was there no matter how many times I wiped my hands. Fuck just typing that memory gave me a gag shiver. Warm mayo, wet bread, thick, sweaty cheese and sand…gross.

“Sam eat your sandwich!”
“Sand-wich indeed”

That was many moons ago those crunchy sandwich beach days but had I known then what I know now, well maybe I would have been a happier little salt covered prune. If I had only known there was a perfect beverage to accompany my gritty lunch…

hanna 2008 / russian river, california
With a color of brilliant honey and golden straw, this wine brings aromas of ripe Gravenstein apple, ghee, oak veneer, dried mango, sweet baked
almond and crushed pineapple. On the tongue, flavors of poached pears, Bananas Foster, ground nutmeg, first touch of warm beach sand, olive
oil and sweet lemon zest.

From a local restaurant’s wine list….um, no wonder people think we wine “professionals” are either douche nozzles or full of shit. Ugh. Useless and profoundly stupid tasting note. Now I feel like I have sand in my underpants….


Alfonso Cevola said...

No rigid mathematical equations here.

This one is about mood and feel.

-J.Peterman (catalog)

Marcia Macomber said...

Your post brings back memories... Not entirely the same since I managed to sit on a man 'o' war at about 6. The resort's suggestion (where we were stayin') was for me to sit in the kiddie pool for a few hours to kill the sting in my ass. ...Worked. ...But it definitely kept me from just about ever venturing out into natural waters again.

Loved your story though on an icky, rainy, cold, yucky day. ...Mine was Kraft singles (which I can't stand now). No grown-up cheeses until I was damn-near grown up....

Restaurant tasting notes drive me batty much of the time. I live in the smack of wine country. What the bleep is "ghee"? There are so many references to rare fruits and nuts in tasting notes it does a great job of discouraging you from giving it a tray. (Sigh.)

Samantha Dugan said...

Dude, who ya talking to?! I'm the chick that got awarded "Worst Tasting Note" by some guy on the east coast because I wrote about a wine being so sexy that it made me feel like I was being shoved against a bathroom stall while my friends waited for me at the table. This note made me feel something, obviously....made me think of those hot, oily sandwiches which in turn made me gag shiver....

Ghee is clarified butter but I guess that was too basic. The wood veneer sounding tasty though..

Benito said...

A lot of my swimming memories are so formal: YMCA classes, Scout classes, even lifesaving training. (Yes, you're looking at the palest member of Baywatch here, and I'm reasonably sure I can still grab a cinderblock off the bottom of a dirty lake before the 4 minute "brain damage" whistle gets sounded.)

The weirdest one I had was when they combined our church choir with swimming. So from 9-12 it was singing in Latin with our precious pre-pubescent voices, then Lunch and Bible study, then swimming from 1-3. On the rare occasions that I got to go to the ocean, I quickly became the Boiled Lobster and had to walk around like Frankenstein for a few days because of the pain.

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Ghee, I Believe It's Not Butter.

Your description of your sandwich certainly made me feel queasy. I hated cheese and mayonnaise as a kid--if your mother had added avocado, she'd have hit the HoseMaster Heave Trifecta.

Stupid wine descriptions abound everywhere. Not too long ago I saw a blogger describe a Sauvignon Blanc he really loved as smelling "like a swimming pool." Imagine if he hadn't liked the wine. So not just cat pee, but chlorine too! Gets you drunk AND cleans your pipes.

I grew up at the beach as well, but didn't learn to swim until I was about ten. My parents told me it was illegal to learn to swim before that...Hmmm.

I love you!

Ron Washam said...

OK, that's

Ghee, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

Stupid joke
Worse typing

Lisa said...


Thomas said...

"sweet lemon zest?" Really.


It's a wonder the cooked mayonnaise didn't give you food poisoning--or did it?

The stuff once gave me poisoning, and it was at a large trade wine tasting!

Samantha Dugan said...

Too funny.

Ron My Love,
I'm just thrilled to see that you are NOT perfect! Welcome to the club of fucked up comments. I love you.

I know right?! Never got sick from one of those nasty bastards. Thankfully, otherwise I might never drink Hanna Sauvignon Blanc!

Joe said...


I'm so glad you called out that tasting note. Utter boobery, if I may make up a word in the spirit of trying to squeeze "boob" into this comment.

Most stomach-turning description of a sammich ever. Yes, sammich. Not a made up word. At least not where I'm from.

Samantha Dugan said...

Feel ya on the squeezing boob, or boobs where they might not fit or me on that. That tasting note made me think of those vile sandwiches the second Lisa posted it. It inspired a feeling for sure but I have to wonder if Hanna was looking to inspire the stiff back, bumps on my flesh and the shiver of, "Holy shit, I think I'm gonna barf"? So I would like to invite you to dinner, I shall warm you and mayo and cheese samminch in the sun and top it with a perfectly poached and runny yolked egg. You bring the wine.

Joe said...

fine. And I have the perfect pairing: Army Worm Wine (

Valerie said...

Funny (or not really) that I had a disgusting house "white" the other night. If I were verbally talented or wine savvy enough to attempt tasting notes, they would be more similar to your sandwich description than the "beachy" wine. Had to be some trebbiano vino sfuso with the color of congealed mayo and the mouthfeel of what I likened to licking sand shaken from someone's swimsuit off the asphalt. Che schifo. Lesson learned.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh okay...and my sandwich description was gross?! Yuck.

Tasting Note Daddy said...

" Useless and profoundly stupid tasting note. Now I feel like I have sand in my underpants…. "

As a writer of tasting notes, some of which must certainly be profoundly silly if not actually stupid, I laughed out loud at the notion of sand in your undies as a step worse than nails on a blackboard.

But do be careful, kid, all tasting notes are stupid at some level--even the ones that sell wine.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh trust me I know, I have to write tasting notes as well and it is always a slippery slope. I'm the queen of writing useless shit but this particular tasting note was just amazingly ridiculous to me. The other side of my point was that we "writers" need to be careful what kind of feeling we hope to inspire with our words, I think the "sand-wich" memory was trying to make that point. Thanks for the visit darlin'

Dave said...

Stumbled across this, thought you might enjoy....