Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dammit Walter

I first wrote about Walter here, ( in early December after hearing that the cantankerous old bastard that snarled into his glass, had a tendency to let chunks of half chewed cheese bits fly from his mouth while exclaiming that the wine in his glass was, "fucking disgusting!” and he meant it in the best possible way, the thin as a rail, bearded and lovably grumpy fixture at our events, that he was going to be up for one hell of a fight. Our Walter even though he had quit smoking years earlier he had been diagnosed with lung Cancer. Dammit. 


Walter’s name was Jack, Jack Bryans and today was the first Saturday that I knew, for sure, that he wouldn’t be walking his scrawny ass through our front door to attend our tasting. Crushing.

“Oh look, a Jack update” my coworker Andy checking his smart phone to find he had an email waiting. “Oh….the ultimate update I’m afraid” that’s how I heard, heard that our irascible old fart didn’t have quite enough fight left in his 76 year old frame. None of us were terribly shocked, I mean he was so frail and had already taken a spill, one that broke bones even, do to the aggressive Cancer treatment. Not shocking at all but there we were yesterday afternoon, all quiet and avoiding eye contact with one another for fear that we would either be caught with tears in our eyes or see them in someone else’s and not be able to keep it together.  Dammit Jack.

Much like in that first post I was struggling with if I should go visit Jack while he was in the hospital and much like the last time I just felt it would have been too weird, for us anyway. The last time I saw him he had come in for one of our Thursday afternoon tastings, one featuring white wines from Spain, the crisp little whites with tons of racy acid that Jack and I both adore drinking and chattering with each other about. We did, chatter and taste he and I that Thursday afternoon and I am absolutely fine with that being my last memory of him, of us. Dang it Walter.

I do regret not being able to say goodbye but more than that, I wish I had let him know just how much his gentle ribbing, nitpicking and eventual adoration of me and my palate meant to me….that and I will be inconsolable, on the inside of course, come our annual Rose and Aioli Fest in June. I’ll miss his schmeg covered glass, stinky garlic breath, constant updates of which Rose was best with carrots, potatoes, the lamb, so exuberant and expressive that the other attendees would be a little frightened. He loved that event and I know with everything I am, he would have lost his shit over the 2012 vintage of his beloved Roses. Gonna miss you Jack.

(Walter) Jack Bryans December 1937 – March 2013   


pvtrailrunner said...

I think that I remember him from several French wine tastings. He had really good taste, and was definitely a curmudgeon in the best possible way. Did he grouse a bit about the temperature of white wines; preferably not too cold?

I will be toasting his memory at the Rosé Fest with fondness--if I am thinking of the right person, the rosés put a sparkle in his eye and a spring in his step. He will be missed.

Do Bianchi said...

so sorry to hear that, Samantha. I so know the type and it's one of the great things about what we do for a living: those in-store tastings bring people from every walk of life.

sounds like you and your team brought a lot of curmudgeonly joy into his life.

We'll keep him in our thoughts...

Samantha Dugan said...

Sounds like Jack to me. I almost always stressed about the temp of my whites because A) I wanted them to taste amazing and B) Jack's grumbling that the wines were, "Too damn cold!" so yeah, I'm pretty sure you are thinking about the same guy. Thanks for adding your little memory of the old fart.

Thanks kiddo. I do get to own the fact that some of Jack's favorite wines were ones I brought into the store and they did bring him so much joy. Cool feeling for sure. I can't imagine a day when I'm tasting and I come across a particular wine and not think, "Well, that a Jack wine" so he will stick with as it were. Hugs to you.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,
That's very sad news. The world needs more characters, not fewer. I've no doubts that Jack touched your wondrous heart, but I also know he would have wanted you to know that you touched his as well. In the end, it's all we have.

I love you!

Valerie said...

Dammit Sam - it was the fucking cancer phone call that pissed me off yesterday and sent me screaming to my laptop for refuge, so I'm doubly sorry to read about Walter. Your curmudgeon. Big hugs ... and think I'm going to drink to you, Walter, and the curmudgeon on the other end of that phone line dealing with it all over again. Love you and love what you do. xo

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Having me in anyone's life doesn't mean much, I mean really, but if I was able to bring joy, through the wines I often picked just for him, to Jack's life...well that does my stupid heart good. I love you, honestly.

I read your post this morning and it left me feeling like you were holding something back, something harder than bad news. I'm sorry for you and your "other end of the phone line" girlie, truly. Jack was a hard nut followed by a laughable and lovable treasure and I am grateful to him and will think of him, and you, tonight when I am having dinner with a once loved stranger that is going through a very, very hard time...but still has his health, and time to start over. Things I will be reminding him of as we talk it out, drink wine and dine atop a rooftop in the city where we met and fell apart. Life has some crazy fucking cycles no? Your post reminded me of that too. My love to you beautiful woman.

(For those of you getting follow up emails, sorry for the re-posting, something came out wring last time!)

Samantha Dugan said...

(sighin mother fucker....
Wrong, something came out wrong. Dammit.

Sara Louise said...

I'm sorry you lost your friend. Tonight I'll raise a glass to Walter xo

Samantha Dugan said...

Thanks Sara, he will be missed.

Charlie Olken said...

There is never a good time to lose someone who is a part of your life.

But, knowing that and having been there does not make it any easier each time someone dear is taken.

As usual, Sam, you reach into my soul.

Samantha Dugan said...

You are right once again dear man, never gets easier. He was adored by the whole store so we at least have each other to look at and say, "Oh shit, Jack would have loved this". Doesn't make the loss sting less but there is comfort in it. Thanks for visiting love, needed that..and you.