Saturday, October 1, 2011

Sticking The Landing

Toes on black, heels land on white. Me alone, six years old and seemingly alone in the rented space that my mother and I shared, the place where even then I wasn’t much for touching and would settle my little frame just beside her on the couch. No snuggling, no sitting on the lap, just close enough for me to feel like I could touch her should I need to, never sure that feeling would ever really take me over. But I sat there, just in case.

Not sure where she was that night. Likely on the phone or curled up next to the nightstand in the room we shared. Nightgown on, knees tucked under her, abalone shell ashtray cradling her Virginia Slims between puffs, sweating glass of sun tea nestled into its water marked spot….book creased and folded over in her palms as she lived someone else's life. “Up on my toes on black, heels land on white”….

Giant puffy headphones plugged into the stereo, the thick plastic resting hard against my skull as the gigantic pads dangled far below my ears and rested somewhere near my chin. I was just beginning to find my peace, the kind my mother found in her beloved books. Mine was to be found spinning, counting my steps and landing my heels in the right spot with the time of the music..feeling my face go hot and my make-fun-of-yourself snicker erupt inside me when my socks would make me slip and send me running to the tape deck to rewind and try it again.

My obsession with music started that night. I had, more than once, had my breath taken away by a deep base that rocked deep in the bit of my tummy. Been captivated by a voice that seemed to lift me right out of my head and chest, carried me off to some romantic and love saturated space where everything was tingly and everyone dripped with that thing, that thing that was absent in my home. Lyrics telling me a story, my tiny ears eagerly awaiting the next chapter. John Denver and his grandma’s feather bed, (not so much the best for the whole dancing deal by the way) Stevie, Ray, Kenny Loggins, Patsy Cline. Listened and swayed to them all, figured out a way to place my steps, shift my shoulders and find my time within their perfectly measured and powerful snippets of poetry. I could be there and a part of something beautiful, eyes closed, toes on black, heels landing on white before slipping my sweaty little body into my jammies, taking the glass of sun tea to the kitchen, snuffing out the still smoldering embers of her cigarette and crawling into bed, close but not touching.

Began finding my inner rawr with music and those powerful voices at my side. I remember strapping myself into the backseat of our V.W. Bug, my mother’s best friend at the time in the front seat, me and her hateful, mean kids on either side of me. Those two boys bickering and being, what even then I knew, were bitter assholes and I would just sit. Quiet and being the sweet girl that didn’t want to upset anyone……until I really wanted to. A forty minute drive for some stupid smoked fish that my mother thought was the height of refinery. I just sat, listened to the 8 track, let the words lift me, the better place and the desire to feel what those voices inspired act like tiny pricks in the small of my back.

Forty minute drive back and I was still wedged between the whining and barking fuck wads I stuck my hand in the still warm bag of pungent smelling fish. Made my sweetest face at the one brother I knew was a little pervy and would do as any girl wished. Squished the oily meat between my fingers and slipped a shredded by my fingers chunk in his mouth. His gaze dropped and his grin flipped up on the sides, he knew he was in on bad behavior and was all for it. Fed that asshole my mother’s smoked fish all the way home, “Walking, after midnight” spurning me on. “You ate all of it?!” my mother’s voice in decibels of astounding magnitude. “I didn’t….he did” my shitty reply as I crossed my oily, smoky fingers behind my back, feeling “touched” in a way that would separate my mother and I for years to come. I was angry that she let me slip around on my socks alone in the living room while she slipped into fanciful stories pressed between thin, bent cardboard covers. Toes on black, heels on white, the beginning of a Tango that didn’t always have me landing on my feet….

“Did you just spit out Montrachet??!!’ an importer’s voice echoing so loudly through the cavernous cellar containing six of us that I feared the damp and musty rafters might crumble down upon us. We had only been in Burgundy for two days but already my notebook contained scribbles on over one hundred and fifty wines. I was still in disbelief that I was there, unsure why I was there, afraid each and every second that I was going to make as asshole out of myself, expose my complete lack of knowledge about anything outside of Champagne and have the others rolling their eyes….also in disbelief that I was there. I stood there, my lips still shimmering with the expelled liquid, pen hovering over my notebook, eyes wide and feeling the “Oh you just so fucked up” knot tying itself up in my gut. I had no smoky fish, oily partner this time, I needed to try and come off suave and together as I stood in a cellar that most would kill to be in, pretending that I didn’t just expectorate a mouthful of thousand dollar a bottle, only a barrel made nectar. My panic was gurgling away so fiercely that I nearly missed the upturned grin of the winemaker. His sweeping grasp of my glass, grabbing of my hand and pulling me back to the sacred cask, this time his slow steps reminding me of, “toes on black and heels landing on white” as dipped the narrow thieve into the cask, placed his worn thumb over the tiny air hole and drew me yet another glass of his most praised elixir. This time I let those fingers that interlaced with mine, let those callouses rest upon my tender palms, let him lead as my heart thumped away in my chest to the beat of his music.

 Eyes locked he lifted his chin, a motion urging me to take another sip. My face was no longer burning and I wasn’t even sure there was anyone else in the room. My heart the base in my ears, his eyes directing my steps as we both brought a glass of deeply golden liquid, the tropical and deeply roasted sound of his voice to our lips. I tipped my glass and slowly pulled the oily textured liquid onto my tongue, marveled in the way it moved. It didn’t splash around or simply land upon my tongue, no, this wine seemed to slip between my lips and spread its firm young frame, the temperature and softness on my mouth causing it to expand and reveal itself with each roll as it moved towards the back of my throat. A pair of dark brown eyes and the sun weathered skin gathered around them, like a palm in the small of my back, leading me as my palate, mind and body were swallowed up and seduced by what was in my glass.  

He watched as my eyelids began to close, watched as my chest expanded…my nose greedily, and quickly pulling in air as I held on to the weighty, silky, young but regal wine that was pulling off a layer of my armor with each viscous drop that made its way past my wildly stimulated palate, deep into the back of my throat. This dance between winemaker, victim and magically seductive elixir leaving me breathless, naked and wanting more. “Oh I don’t believe this!” the huffy voice of one of the far more knowledgeable than I fellow travelers. Not sure what he found so offensive about a winemaker making love to me, nearly literally, as he showed me how to dance to his Montrachet.

The composer of my new lover brought his own glass to his lips, this time eyes locked on the snippy bastard that had disturbed our dance lesson, took a deep sip, let the wine roll around in his mouth and then proceeded to spit it on the floor. My face was once again flush but this time, this time it was from landing my heels on white. The understanding that that wine wasn’t music until I took the time, rewound the tape and truly let it move me. That night at dinner I wore the swagger of the newly anointed, the puffy chest of someone that got it just a little more. “Should we start with Chablis” the importer proposed, again and once again I offered, “Well we could start with a little Champagne” to once again, as per our pattern for the past few days, was met with, “Oh. Champagne, kinda heady stuff don’t you think” but this time rather than sit sweetly I crossed my hands in front of me, looked deep into another set of beautiful brown eyes, took a deep breath and said, “You just watched me have my clothes torn off by a glass of wine….don’t think a glass of Champagne is too much at this point” the arm went up, the bottle was ordered and there we sat as I, finally got to be the one who knew more about what we were drinking….

“Toes on black, heels on white” Me grinning as I stuck that landing.     


TWG said...

You're back, you're so back.

Samantha Dugan said...

Oh darlin' can't know how nice it is to hear that. Thank you. Thank you so much for continuing to check in on me and support me! Means so much.

Thomas said...

Great read.

Samantha Dugan said...

Don't know about that but what I do know is that having people like you, TWG and chris here supporting and encouraging me while I struggle to get back into my groove, find my voice and desire once again...well, that is more than great, it's what friendship and love is all about. Thank you my beloved friend, for hanging in there with me and being in my corner. Love you for it.

Anonymous said...

Read this yesterday, let it sit and breathe, read it again today. Makes me desperately want to find something that turns me on enough to dance again... be it wine, a savoury dish, or a lover. Preferably all three.

Samantha Dugan said...

Another Day of Crazy,
Well girlie, if I made you crave something than I can be a little proud. Thanks and...lets go dancing!

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Wow, you reduced Thomas to "Great read," a clever twist on "Great post."

Not really a whole lot to say about your post--you said it all yourself. Great winemakers tend to dance to their own music, turns out great tasters need to know how to dance too. Sounds like you had a gentle and sensual teacher teaching you the Montrachet tango.

And, just so you know, you never lost your groove or your voice. Every great artist needs a break now and then to recharge the batteries, rediscover her motivation, and rest her voice. That's simply taking care of the instrument, not losing it.

I love you!

Bubbles Daddy said...

Loved it. Loved the double entendre. Stick the landing on a great post. Stick the landing on Champagne. It always sticks the landing for me.

Ready to drink some more Marcel Moineaux up this way?


Thomas said...


Great scott!

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Yup, this Poodle took Thomas' tossed bone and greedily devoured it. When I struggle like this I confess, (well I guess I always have) that those friendly pats help, like a lot. Just needy that way I guess.

I wish these breaks felt like breaks but I do miss having the words flow from my heart and head, tapping the keypad and watching the letters dart across the screen. Makes me feel vibrant and I miss it when I feel like I have nothing to say. As you know I am still struggling a bit, hence the pointless posts with very little wine but, just pushing myself through this and hoping to synch up with my writing chops again. So nice to see you here, supporting and indulging me. I love you too.

Bubbles Daddy,
You are far too sweet and you can bet your sweet ass I would love to come up there and sip some beautiful Blanc de Blancs with you!!

Thomas said...


Good writing can't be begged for, rushed, prayed for, expected, given a time frame, counted on, discounted, and so on; it can be put forward only when necessary and when the muse gives the go-ahead.

Winey the Elder said...

"Some velvet morning when I'm straight
I'm going to open up your gate
And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra
And how she gave me life
And how she made it in."

On the wings of wine or the laments of loss, you soar and roar. Special you. Lucky us.


Samantha Dugan said...

"Can't be given a time frame" well then what the hell with deadlines!? Guess that explains a lot about rags like Food & Wine.

Winey the Elder,
Not sure who you are but you seem to have a knack for taking my breath away. You have once again humbled me with your kind comment and I assure you, I'm the lucky one.

Marcia Macomber said...

Gadzooks! Just when I'm beginning to wonder where the h*ll you're goin' with the dancing, the oily fish, etc., you drop us right in on the key moment!

As always your description of a 'wine experience' is wholly original, compelling and a touch devilish. Brava!

Samantha Dugan said...

Trying to figure out where I was going?! Like I know? C'mon lady, you know better than that. Just the usual rambling as always. Do appreciate your chiming in and sweet words though!

Thomas said...


That is a good catch that you made. One could make the case that I just slammed journalism...but then, my book publisher has forced me into a deadline, which probably means that the book will not be filled with good writing.

Or maybe what I wrote applies only to creative writing, which isn't normally on deadline, unless it's a novel, and most of those these days are written by formula anyway.

It appears ever more so that blogging is the only creative writing outlet that remains in this world.

Somebody shoot me. I am getting hysterical.