Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I've Got Your Square Hole

“It’s just nice to be home again. Feels so good I think we should do it every year” up late the other night watching some lame chick movie. One of those deals that crosses from the current to back in time as we watch how our young pod of best girlfriends spend a coming of age summer, one that would showcase their differences, the differences that would send them spiraling apart, you know, until this coming home visit where all is righted once again. Harmless enough and just the kind of mindless junk I have the intellectual fortitude for at 3:00 AM. The cast worthy of watching and the throwback music nostalgic, and the only real thing I related to in the film.

When the credits began to roll over the picture of friendship and coming home again, I grabbed the remote, tossed back the puddle of whatever wine was in my glass down my gullet and shuffled off to the bedroom. Teeth brushed, fan whispering the promise of some sort of relief, I gently tugged at the sheet and folded into bed. The night, or morning rather, everything my soggy mind was not….still. I lay there my head flipping back and forth from the silly film to the screaming silence of a missing voice in my life, the clashing of both causing me to sit up in bed, expel the beaten-down groan of surrender and slip out of bed once again. 

I walked past the empty room where my son once lived, even more empty in some weird way now that he’s back. His posters gone, his bed and dressers moved into his new home here, the hope of walking past and seeing my tiny little man in deep snooze gone and causing me a mildly stinging flicker of pride, and sadness. My bare feet finding comfort in the soft carpet as I kept moving down the hall, past the poster from the event I attended in Champagne this year, past the print we picked up at a museum on one of our vacations and the framed maps of Burgundian vineyards that hang helpful and colorful behind my couch. No television this time, I just let the quiet bounce off the noise in my head, the words “It’s just so nice to be home again” in the context with which it was intended so foreign to me and just another reminder that most of the time….I kinda don’t fit.

I let the word “Home” flicker over me in the darkness of my unmoving living room. I felt home where I was. The pictures of the places I’ve visited, the increasingly wheezy couch, the kitchen just over there, a place of pride and elation for me when I’m feeding the people that I love, the ones that love me back. This is indeed my home and really, the only one I’ve ever known. Going home again would mean walking right back through that horribly ugly colored green door with the number 408 affixed to it. 

That other kind of home is a feeling that I can’t quite wrap my head or heart around. I lived another place, a couple of them actually but the last of “that” feeling, if there ever was one, was taken to the trash heap along with the dresser drawers that were falling apart from years of roach and termite infestation, the swollen plastic bags bursting with unpaid bills, the broken and stained couch that smelled of the brother that was slowly trying to kill himself on it…like stolen Scotch, cigarettes, unwashed flesh, failed potential and self-righteousness…the call, that call that took away that bitty shred of just in case, the call the made me a matriarch at 29 years old.

Home as a feeling or source of soothing is something I’ve never quite got and has once again shone a light upon one of those areas of me that I try and pull the material over, try and hide. One of those things that I’d rather listen to you share with me and make me understand because the twisting in my tummy assures me that not only do I not have anything to truly share, I envy even the tiniest bit of comprehension of. I have a family but for the most part we don’t quite fit into the pre formed roles, shapes and ideals. I have a black son and while I can smile as people of all races feel comforted enough to ask him, “Can I touch it?” with regards to his massive and puffy afro, I can’t not feel Ferguson. An anecdote or annoying bit of civil discourse to some, paralyzing fear to the mother of a sweet, puffy afro wearing, dark skinned son that bows to let 90 year olds of all races and colors touch his pillow of sweet smelling hair, runs across the shop or courtyard to help anyone that needs his girth and strength, melts when a wee blonde 3 year old calls him his “best friend”. Kinda wish my mother were here now, curious where her history and reality of right now would stand on this one. No going home again….hurts. I can squish and shove my bits this way and that but still, I don’t fit. 

“Who the hell are you going to sell these to?!” the warped face of a coworker as he ran through a few wines, well not wines but Vermouths that flipped on all my switches and set my motor a running. “There are some, a few of us that relish in the different goddamn it” I barked back as I let the last bits of butternut squash vermouth trickle down my throat. Big notebook slammed shut and nibble of “how could you?” at my spine. “They don’t fit but…I want them” my argument as I stole, flat-out stole funds from Jeremy (um, that would be my son) and ordered him slightly impossible, and expensive vermouths to put on his shelves.

Been a couple of days since I got these wild things in but….they make sense to me. They make sense to those of us that aren’t confined to the tiny pieces of puzzles that can’t be figured out by what we think we know or get. These are vermouths built by someone I’m guessing is just as displaced by ideals and looking to create a narrative full of questions….a discussion that includes a normal that might make us think a bit more. Drinking these, this feels like a homecoming, and that sexy as fuck bent finger tucked beneath my chin that not only keeps my head up but encourages me to keep looking forward. 

So nice to be coming home again….

Uncouth Vermouth Apple Mint $39.99

The one I didn’t try before ordering and while I wish I had I get where this elixir places. Bright, easy, clean, full of minty notes that live forever on the palate long after the vermouth is gone. I thought of ceviche the second I smelled this, hasn’t gone away.

Uncouth Vermouth Beet & Eucalyptus $39.99

Can’t stop smelling this stuff. I’ve been given to sneaking off to the kitchen where I’ve hidden a bottle, just to burry my nose in the glass and feel my knees give as the earthy, gamey and slutty aromatics pry me open and fill me up. The nose is full of spicy minty or eucalyptus up front it is the beguiling beet earthiness that pulls the shoulder forward and wraps its life and differentness around you. This is begging for a plate of cured meat, stone ground mustard, pickles and a glass full of ice with a kiss if gin in it. Wild but in that way that makes you ache for just a little more investigation.

Uncouth Vermouth Butternut Squash $39.99

Fresh, vibrant, raw, spread wide open and unwashed. The kind of beverage that defies the column A or B…it’s way more complex and twisting than that. That face across the room that looks familiar but has teeth sunk deeply in its lip and eyebrow raised….it has been waiting for you, what are you waiting for?       

 I don’t fit.

They don’t fit

There is a home for all of us


Thomas said...


You might find this book interesting:

The Color of Water, by James McBride.

Samantha Dugan said...

What's it about?

Thomas said...

A black man's memoir of growing up with a white, Jewish mother.

Samantha Dugan said...

Sounds right in my wheelhouse. Been struggling with getting into anything by way of books lately, might be just the thing. Oh and I thought of you when I had those Vermouth for the first time, made in Brooklyn and the base is Riesling from the Finger Lakes.

Dale Dimas said...

I couldn't tell you what Vermouth is "supposed" to taste like, or the difference one "should" note between dry and sweet. What the heck is it for, other than, I think, martinis?

So, how the hell do you make my mouth water and want to try these bizarre vermouths with flavors I'm not even particularly fond of?

Please don't ever use your gift of description for evil! :)

Thomas said...

Yeah, I know the Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn, a stone's throw from where I grew up.

The winery was almost wiped out in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy hit New York.

When I was young, instead of wineries and vermouth, that area of Brooklyn was the seedy home of dangerous bars along equally dangerous docks locations.

webb said...

You know .... "home" can be where one is. right. now. Not necessarily even a place.

Mitchell and i are two loners who have found home together. It's not that either of us comes from a truly bad family, but neither of us really ever felt comfortable with them. My brother - whom i love dearly, but am happy seeing every couple of years - has one of those big, Southern, multi-generational families and loves it, but i feel overwhelmed after 48 hours with them. Mother always wanted us "home" with her, even after four moves from the house i grew up in. None of her subsequent 'homes' was mine.

i think home's what you make of it. If you, Jeremy and the man you love are a unit and that's the glue that holds you together and keeps you strong, then WTF? not sure the the Cleavers are the right model for most of us, and actually, the Cleavers didn't exist.

Ferguson is horrifying. Too much like 1968. It has broken open long festering wounds and showed us that the U.S. is still basically a racist country. Breaks my heart.

Samantha Dugan said...

I will say I've had a hard time thinking of what to do with these vermouth as they are so fine, elegant and intriguing...I'm sort of afraid to cover them up, so I've just been sipping and savoring them on their own. I love the wildness, that untamed and astoundingly unique flavors. Dig that in people too. Oh and don't you worry, I'd never use my writing for evil, that's what the boobs are for! Thanks for visiting.

We have an area sort of like that Long Beach, called The Pike and when I was little I was never allowed to go, now it's sort of hipster and all cool down there. Kind sad to see the under belly washed clean in a way...

That's why the term family values always freaked me out, whose family?! The stuff in Ferguson is just heartbreaking to watch and hear...all the discourse, on both sides, myself admittedly, getting wrapped up and pulled into fights. Got into it last night with a woman that said, "I just think we should give the cop his day in court before we convict him of anything" which prompted me to respond, "I just think we should have given the kid his day in court before we killed him"...just no way to make any of this right. So sad but thanks for visiting with me, been feeling awfully lonely lately...nice to be home again.

Thomas said...

"Kind sad to see the under belly washed clean in a way..."

Most definitely, what the Disney company has done to 42nd Street is an abomination.

As for Ferguson and the killing of police today a few miles away, I've been wondering what ever happened to the police training that had cops shooting to incapacitate. Six fucking bullets into one unarmed black man! What other reason could there be besides racism?

Thomas said...

whoops, not killing of police--by police.

Samantha Dugan said...

Never been on 42nd Street but trying to plan a couple days in NY this October...now I know where to NOT go. As to the police shooting, one of those shots was in the top of that young man's head. His head was down. Just crushing and I can't help but have it break my heart a little each time one of these situations arise, just pulls us that much further apart.

Thomas said...


Any chance you can get to the Finger Lakes in October?

If you do get to NYCity, what are your plans there?

Samantha Dugan said...

Absolutely no plans yet. The trip really isn't even set yet. I'd like to get away a few days before the holidays, thought just soaking in a great city like New York City might be a cool thing to do. Load up in history, bright lights, high energy and deli food. Taking any and all suggestions....

Thomas said...

The city is not what it used to be...too much gentrification and cleaning up has taken away its edge. It has become an effete place.

Having said that, still great jazz at the Village Vanguard: http://villagevanguard.com/

Delis exist, although there are fewer of them and the prices are ridiculous. Try Russ and Daughters on the lower East Side: http://www.russanddaughters.com/.

Some of the best restaurants are not the ones everyone talks about. Cafe Loup being one of them: http://www.cafeloupnyc.com/

For a great cabaret night, try to get a reservation at the Cafe Carlyle: http://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/the-carlyle-new-york/dining/cafe-carlyle

My ex-business partner at the wine shop runs a bar called Vinus and Marc. http://vinusandmarc.com/

Sights to see if you like architecture include the Brooklyn Bridge--still a marvel--and the Chrylser Building--my favorite in the city.

Manhattan's Central Park and Brooklyn's Prospect Park--both stupendous places lined with classy neighborhoods.

You can drop by Times Square but as I said, it ain't what it used to be. Little Italy is not longer Italian. Chinatown is still Chinese (in fact, most of Little Italy is Chinese), but it's also not so wonderful as it once was. Harlem is jumping again, but not like before; this time, it is upscaling. The character that once was the East Village is all but gone, as is the case mostly with Greenwich Village.

I could go on...

Samantha Dugan said...


You and I are so alike in so many ways, what would you love me to see?

Thomas said...

Hmm. I was going to say where I grew up, but that neighborhood is unrecognizable even to me. I was there in June--people on my old block don't even know what stickball is, and even if they did know, the trees are so big it would be impossible to get a game going!

The problem with visiting any great city is that you can't get a feel of its greatness in just one short visit. It's the daily things that make a city's impressions, the places to have breakfast, the walks where tourists don't go, the museums and clubs that cater to the locals rather than the crowds (the small undiscovered neighborhood eating and drinking places), and so on.

Unfortunately for both of us, I've been away from the city too long and most of my old haunts are either gone or have been compromised--plus, my age and my memories make what I like quite different from what younger people like about New York.

The places I listed above are worth experiencing.

I might add a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, for the ferry ride, rather than for the statue. I would consider a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, which I have done and found exhilaratingly frightening, especially if you suffer from a form of vertigo like mine, which seems to compel me to go the edge of a high point and imagine jumping off...of course, they don't let you go to the edge.
I might take in a game at Yankee Stadium. I would definitely spend some time in Brooklyn, but to do that you need a guide.

I'd go on a few subway rides, just for the experience of riding the subway, but would ask someone who knows the system to go along.

I might hang out for afternoon tea at the Plaza, if they still do afternoon tea there, or take a steak at Gallagher's, if that place still exists.

Definitely try a pizza at Lombardis: http://www.firstpizza.com/
It's where NY pizza was established in 1905. It will change what you think of those West Coast things referred to as pizza...

If I were you, I might want to visit Astor Place Wine and Spirits (which is no longer at Astor Place, but nearby) and Chambers Street Wines.

Samantha Dugan said...

Once again you sort of get me. The few times I've traveled and done the touristy things it irritated me and made me feel like I was at an amusement park. I'm much more about walking neighborhoods, sitting in a cafe or park and watching as people live in their city. That's the kind of thing I love and makes me feel like I'm really getting to understand what it's like to be there. I adore history but all of that is available, in its old form, in books and pictures....a like being in the now, which is why we love subways and trains in big cities, real life happens on them. Your tips are wonderful and now I'm starting to get excited! Thanks so much darlin....and reading stick ball this morning made me grin. Needed that so sending a big thank you hug your way!

Romes said...

I read this initially last night and while I wanted to comment, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to say... As I've let it sink in, I think that "home" and "coming home/going home" is not necessarily about where you grew up and who you grew up with, although for some it may be. For me, home is where I feel I can be my most authentic self without judgement - for example, one of the places I feel most at home is on Edington Dr in Huntington Beach - cause it is comfortable and the people there like me exactly as I am. I think "home" is a feeling and it may not have been a feeling that was experienced during childhood for many. I think you fill a square hole just fine! Love you - thanks for making me think...

Samantha Dugan said...

Doesn't matter how long it takes you to comment, just means so much when you do. I knew you might understand that lack of "home" feeling when thinking of your childhood....we weren't so much afforded that but, well fuck it, we are wicked cool people and now I know I have given my son something I never had. Pretty sure there is no greater gift or feeling...least for me. Thanks for being here lady.