Thursday, June 28, 2012

Complexity Not A Wine Post

Seems as if that word has been coming up a lot as of late. Started on Thursday afternoon when I was preparing for my Chablis tasting, the little chant I had going in my head that reminds me how to explain those stony, salty, ultimately sexy wines to people that either came to taste goofy California “Chablis” or Chardonnay, (and whatever that means to some people) as that is how we billed the event. Was in the kitchen just minutes before I was to march out, chest puffed up, ready to explain what Chablis is and why complexity is what makes them so beguiling, when I heard the overhead page, “Sam, You’ve got a call on line one”. Me standing in the tasting room an hour later, pouring and discussing my much adored cold climate Chardonnay from Chablis, the sound of my little sister’s voice in my head slipping into the cracks in my focus. The picture sent to my cell phone so horrific, the message, “Worse than ever” igniting an anxiety that started in my tummy and stretched out across my shoulders making it almost painful to pour.

“So why did you pair these two together?” a sweet faced, big guy in both size and personality all lit up and full of questions during a private, in home Cheese & Wine tasting Saturday night. An event I’d agreed to do long ago and even though I had to ask Randy to cover my Grower Champagne class the night before, knew I had to be there for. “That cheese has lots going on. You’ve got multiple layers of age so the cheese changes from the rind in, then you add in flecks of shaved truffle…that’s kind of a lot. So I picked a wine that while equally complex wasn’t going to crush any of those layers” the words forming and leaving my lips seemingly without any hesitation although my thoughts and spirit where anywhere but there at the moment. A feeling that I loathe, that not being 100% at my gig and one that was now weighing heavy on my already taxed and weighed down frame, not once but twice.

On my way into the shop Friday night for my sold out Grower Champagne tasting I received a heart wrenching text from my sister, “We just prayed and they handed me a DNR form” before I could even wrap my head around what I was reading the tears in my eyes made the trying to read it again impossible. The traffic on the freeway a welcome break giving me enough time to respond, “I’m coming. Where are you?” Ran into The Wine Country, both in a panic to get my shift covered, pick the lineup and cheeses but also to be in that place for just a moment. Feel grounded and safe, see Randy and Ronnie whom both wrapped their arms around me tight as I struggled to fight back the tears and explain what was going on, “I need to be with my sister right now” Let myself fold into their arms, rest my heart on their big chests and crumble a little before gathering my composure as best I could and rushing back out the door. The necessity of my having to break my commitment to the store and the 40 people that had signed up to hear me talk about my most beloved wines, mixing with guilt and the very real knowing that those two men would do a wonderful job conveying my passion for those wines and no matter how many hours they had already worked that day, would do it and happily, to help me. The fear of what I was about to face mixing with my overwhelming desire to be at my sister’s side. Complexity..

My brother and I have been estranged for, well for most of our lives but officially for a couple years. I had finally found a way tell him that no matter what connection he feels we should have because we are family, I had no place in my life for him. Got a knot in my stomach even now typing that but it was something I had to do, had tried to do, many times before. My brother and I are very different people, the choices he’s made are one thing but the destruction, corruption, often devastation in the form of monetary and emotional loss that comes with knowing him…became a price I could no longer afford. His rage and indignation, sense of persecution…without ever conceding his culpability or taking even the tiniest bit of blame for the way things ended up? Well that made the split a lot easier. The fear and worry I used to feel were now no longer about getting a call that he was in jail or the hospital, it was more about when and if he was to show up at my door again, homeless, addicted and promising, “It would just be for a week or two” having to explain to him that I couldn’t raise my son in that kind of environment only to have him seethe and deny. So wrapped up in his own delusion that he refused to see the reality of his choices and the consequences of his actions. Nope, I was the bitchy sister that turned her back on her brother when he was in need, and trust me, I felt it, not just from him…but from me. But I had a son to raise, a family and enabling my brother by taking him in…well I’ve seen firsthand what happens to those people. Helping Mikey was never helping, it was feeding a sickness. One that has been eating away at all of us for 25 years and one that now has him as fragile and broken physically as he has always been emotionally. Sad and so very complex….

I almost literally ran into the ICU Friday night, not running to Mike but for my sweet, big-hearted sister that was at his side. In fact I wasn’t planning on seeing my brother, I had seen the picture and that was enough. My plan was to sit outside and be a safe place for Tessa to cry, vent, be afraid, a pair of arms and a big chest for her to rest that heart upon. Wasn’t about him, I was there for her. We were buzzed into the ICU and I could hear my sister’s voice right off the nurse’s station, sounding firm but full of her sweet, giggly spirit. I walked up to the pulled curtain, just trying to wave her down to let her know I had made it and that was when I heard, “Oh look who’s here”…fuck. She waved me in, some kind of napkin or towel in her hand, don’t think either Mike or I knew what was happening but there we were…face to face and it took everything I had not to gasp. My “Big Brother” tucked into a bed that looked about four sizes too big. Legs literally bones, face sunken in and those eyes, those big beautiful blue eyes that he, my sister and mother shared, shallow and lifeless, rolling back in his head before he blinked and tried to focus. His choices, reality, addiction, sadness, all eating him up from the inside out. “It’s nice to see you Mike” was all I could muster. I meant it but I’m sure it sounded as dreadful as it felt leaving my lips. His eyes filled up and he nodded, did his best to make small talk, his illness making that a task nearly impossible, both of our shame filling the room. Complexity…

We only stayed a few minutes, my own consequences gripping my throat and leaving me without words to say, our history so raw that I felt making shit up would be a further insult to him…to both of us. I didn’t belong in that room, I knew it and felt it. As hard as that is to own…I can’t pretend our life didn’t happen and me standing there smiling at him and interjecting myself, well it would have been as false as the delusional crap from him that I ran from. I earned that stomach churning feeling of being out of place there, just as much as he earned my closing the door on him when he needed a place to “crash”. “I just wanted to show you this. As much as you think he hates you”

There in the wallet not unlike the one he had when he was eighteen years old, among his few photos, a picture of me, Carl and Jeremy. Not sure why it was there. If he really needed to have it or if it was just one of those “Mikey” things about family and what we are supposed to do….didn’t matter, it touched me. Complexity…

“Saying goodbye to Fraggle Rock” my son tagged in a picture on Facebook. Sat here this afternoon, my day off, my brother likely dying, my sister being the rock for him, me hoping she will let me be one for her, days late for newsletter deadline, looking at a picture of the house that my son has made his home. The one now full of boxes as those young men close that chapter on Louisville and the home nicknamed Fraggle Rock, venturing off on their next adventure, without each other. Reading all the heartfelt comments from all the friends that gathered and hung out there and were sad to see them all go. Thought about Jeremy and the family he has made there, what it must feel like to load up packing boxes and say goodbye to all of them and for the first time in nearly ten days, I let it all in. Complexity to say the least…

I came to the realization that I don’t hate my brother, still don’t understand or really trust him but there is no hatred. We are who we are, maybe because of each other and in some small way I guess I can be grateful for his part in steering me to this life. The one where I get to watch my son soar and thrive, make conscious decisions as a grown man, healthy and capable of doing so…in part because he was given a safe place to grow. A life where I get to fall into the arms of men that would walk through fire for me at The Wine Country and customers that have let me into their life so much that they show up the day after an event I don’t show for, just to see if I’m okay or if there is anything they can do. Sales reps that bring me rare bottles, like the one I’m drinking now, 2009 Domaine Ganevat Les Chalasses from the Jura…a rich, powerfully complex white wine that couldn’t be more perfect for my mood right now, just because they knew I would dig/get it and they wanted to share it with me. My son, my brother, my sister and I, four very different lives that no matter what, find our roots intertwined and nourishment from each other in ways that I suspect will show themselves for years to come. 

 Mike went his way, I went mine. Not even sure if forgiveness is something I am seeking or wishing to give. I wish him only peace and I will make the same promise I made twelve years ago when our mother died, I will take care and be here for our beloved sister. Always. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Holding It In

Argh!! This is stinking killing me.

Monday was the first sputtering. Woke on my only day off until Sunday, after working Father’s Day where I had an employee fucking no-show on me which had me alone in the shop for nearly two hours, the only one there to help customers and answer the phones, doing the, “Oh crap I need to pee” dance until my beloved Randy was reached and ran in to rescue me. So after a long work weekend I was looking forward to a nice relaxing day of nothing, probably in my jammies for the majority of it and likely in varying stages of buzziness. I had a plan. That was until I received a brief, slightly cryptic message that sent my heart racing and mind bouncing off its preverbal walls. The “What ifs?” and “Could this really be happening?” leaving me anything but relaxed. Ended up jumping right into buzzy, nothing like 3 martinis, after a bottle of Rose, to quiet the voices in your head and stop the spinning right? I’m nothing if not a thinker….

Woke Tuesday morning, worse for wear I can assure you, to see another message this one anything but cryptic, it was a confirmation that swept away all the, “What ifs?” and answered the, “Could this really be happening?” with a resounding “Yes, yes it is”. My heart once again thumping around inside my chest and gin soaked brain swimming to the surface. Got me some truly fantastic news Tuesday, was able to tell a handful of people about it, but was then asked to keep it on the down low for a couple weeks. Goddamn it! This is exactly the kind of thing that would have me here, pounding away at my keys and gushing with excitement! I was in fact in front of this damn laptop when the request for silence was made, blog post in the making, shut…or shot down for the time being. 

So now I’m stuck, in this place where I can only think of one thing, this event all I want to talk about but my respecting of wishes keeping me from doing so. Argh!! All I can say is that I’m beyond excited and here it is, only June, and my year has been made. Anything else from this point forward, fucking gravy. 

In an effort to distract myself I’ve been trying to just keep busy. Throwing myself into work and fun while attempting to leave this big thing alone, not over-think it and not wear myself out or spin into a total tizzy. Getting by with a little help from my job and old friends. Last night we were invited to 3 Twenty South, a restaurant/wine bar opened by a former sales rep of ours. They were celebrating their one year anniversary and let me just tell you, spending your evening noshing on truffled French fries, perfectly plump and succulent scallops, dunking crusty hunks of bread into a broth made from ale and mussels, washing it all down with R.H. Coutier Henri III, Francois Chidaine Vouvray Les Buchet before jumping into lamb poutine, (yes, more fries, shut up, they were brilliant) steak with Roquefort butter and Maison Bleue Liberte Syrah…well this goes a very long way in the helping department. The bottle of Bourgogne Rouge and Grand Cru Chablis Randy ordered, after all that other stuff, well that had to have helped kill off a few over-working brain cells as well. Was a lovely meal, in a wonderfully welcoming restaurant, and we were spoiled rotten. Friend or no friend, the place is fantastic. If you find yourself on 3rd and La Brea slip into 3 Twenty South, get you some snacks and you will find a very cool mix of well-known and not so well-known wines being offered by the glass and bottle. Well done Edgar, and thank you for a much needed night out of my head.

Tonight I get to pour, talk about, teach and taste a bunch of 2010 Chablis, Friday night I’ll be popping corks on Agrapart, H. Billiot, Marc Hebrart and my beloved Camille Saves for my Grower Champagne tasting and Saturday night, after working a full shift at the shop, I’m doing a donated Wine & Cheese pairing event that fetched nearly $1,000.00 at a silent auction. So hopefully all of this will keep me from coming out of my skin with anticipation….that or it will kill me. Hoping for the former. So what to do in the few precious moments of downtime? I look at shit like this…

                                      (The Noodle Hair Guard)

                  (Noodle Fan...Blowing Being So Difficult And All)

                           (Big Boy Pants After...)

                                   (The Wine Diaper?) 

And my personal favorite this week

               (Waited My Whole Life For These. Picnic Pants)

So while I still can't spill my news I am being kept busy with work, wine, food, friends and being entertained by the profoundly stupid.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Winning Again

Now while this is re-post technically it has been modified a bit because of the vintage and the only reason I'm using the existing piece is because the same damn thing is true. Another spectacular Rose that I can't seem to go a couple days without wrapping my mouth around. Damn sexy stuff, rare and extremely limited, but groan and crave inducing as hell. Damn....

So as the house French wine specialist it falls to me to bring in the majority of the Roses that we have to offer at The Wine Country. This is not only my pleasure it is, thanks to the overwhelming response from all of our customers, my honor to take charge of the wall of “Pink” that greets them as they walk through the front door of the store. I assure you, for just as many wines as they see there just as many were rejected for being too simple, fruity, alcoholic or just plain weird and while I am sure I will find no sympathy I promise you, it is not so much fun to smell, taste and spit the wines that don’t make the cut. Even less fun having to explain to some bandwagoning supplier that their, just acquired....(because you know, everyone has to have a Rose now), Rose is flat, insipid and falls into the, "Are you stoned?!" pricing category compared to the wines we are already working with. Been in the Rose game far too long to be dazzled by some craptastic left behind. If the guys that "got it" before it was hip opted to leave it in France, well then chances are this buyer is going to let in get lost in your giant portfolio of just okay wines. Sorry.... 

I am asked every year, “Which ones are good?” or “Which is your favorite?” and as any good mother would, “They are all good and it would be too hard to pick a favorite” is what you will hear by way of a response from me. The wines are all good, wouldn’t be at the store if I didn’t truly believe that but as to which is my favorite, well like that mother thing, I might be fibbing a little.

Last year a few of our Saturday tasters as well as a chunk of my blog readers were let in on my favorite Rose, the Francois Chidaine Touraine Rose, (now this would be year before last but again the same thing is true. The Chidaine was delightful and just as last year, has already come and gone.) and once they tasted it we blew through the last available eight cases on the west coast, in less than a day and a half. It was unreal and while I was a tad bummed that I had let my Rose cat of the proverbial bag and there was no more for me to sip away on, I was thrilled that I was able to share that wine, my most beloved wine, with those of you that got that opportunity to try it.

So as it turns out, I have already found the Rose that makes my toes curl, far earlier this year than last year but sadly, it is just as limited, in fact...far more limited. Don’t you just hate that?! I spilled my guts for The Wine Country newsletter first this time. Got a sizable amount of crap last year from customers that were annoyed that my blog readers got first crack at the Rose that made me tingle and they didn't have the chance to even try it, so I caved. Gave up the goods to them first. The newsletter was sent out over the weekend,  which gave them two whole days of a head start so I shan't listen to any whining about playing favorites.

So last year the Chidaine was simply charming. A delightful little Rose that drank like it should have been far more expensive....even tasted it along side some wines twice its price and still preferred the Chidaine. Stoopid value that was simply delicious. This year however, it isn't a charmer that has stolen my, this wine reaches beyond the constraints of Rose and lands squarely in that seductive, contemplative and haunting category.
I had tasted the wine with my sales rep and ordered three cases for the store. I thought it was delightful and knew that it stood out from the others we had stacked in the front of the shop wasn't until taking a bottle home, spending the night with it, letting it spill, splash and stain my palate that I could see just how serious a wine it was. Called my rep the "morning after" and secured five more cases. Didn't even care if they were going to be just for me. This wine had slipped beneath my skin and now every Rose I tasted after it, even my adored Tempier, tasted simple and like some of its parts were missing.

I've tried to restrain myself, tried to leave some for the rest of you and tried to give equal time to the other Roses I've brought in but, damn. Each sip of another just reminds me of what I'm missing and has me walking through the front doors of The Wine Country once again wrapping my fingers around the neck of the wine that won't let me be.....

The 2011 Clos Marie Pic Saint Loup Rose is one sexy beast of a wine that I shall covet until the last of the 25 cases that were imported to the west coast have vanished. At $17.99 a bottle I'm guessing that it won't fly like the Chidiane did last year. Guessing is the same as hoping right? A very serious wine that drinks even better, if you can stand it, on day two than it does upon opening it. I've twice resisted polishing off the bottle and been greatly rewarded for it but in the interest of true confessions, I greedily devour the saturated fruit, wet stones, striations of spice, curvy mouth filling weight in one gloriously satisfying sitting most times. Too serious to just suck back, too sexy to ignore, this is a wine that works both your palate and your head and I am deeply in love with it. But by all means, feel free to just ignore it, deem it too pricy or just another pink wine. It has a place to go, a palate that is waiting, wanting and ready......
The only changes I would make to the above is that the 2011 is a touch more restrained. Not wimpy, in the least, just a touch lacier and more graceful on the palate, which in a way makes the fucking thing even more alluring....can't stand how badly I want a glass right now and it's only 7:40 AM. Going to be a long stinking day until I can get back here and pop the cork on that icy little bottle that is just lying in wait....for me. Damn. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Random Stuff That Bugs Me

I like to fancy myself a pretty forgiving person. This of course might not be true at all but it’s something I like to believe. Maybe forgiving is the wrong word but I try not to let other people’s choices, likes, beliefs or preferences shape my opinions of them as individuals. Judgment isn’t really my thing, both as someone that has done, said, eaten and drunk some shit that I’m not always proud of, and as someone that has been on the receiving end of way too much information from friends and strangers alike….as well as disapproving glances. Cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I’m not sure why I’m telling you this” while sitting there with the, “Um, me either but whatever” face. Happens all the time and for the most part, I kind of like that I seem to throw off a vibe that makes people open up and feel comfortable telling me anything, sometimes everything, without fear of me thinking them a freak, dumb, weird or even wrong. I might not come close to understanding all the time but thinking I’m better or smarter, more enlightened….just isn’t me.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I will break balls and make fun at times, especially those times when someone tries to get all hoity on me. Like the time a friend and I were talking and I made reference to A Christmas Story, the movie, and he began to poke fun at me for even bringing up such a film and then he went on to say, “I was watching Glee the other night” or when someone on their third marriage starts waxing about who should or should not be given the right to be married. Well then I will pull out the fangs a bit but never out of anger or even judgment really, but more as a way of pointing out hypocrisy and giving a little nudge. Just can’t think of even one person that has life completely figured out, especially me, so I simply cannot go around getting all pissed off when people are doing, thinking, saying or behaving in a manner that might not be my preferred option. Not to mention, I don’t see the point of getting my own crunders in a bunch over what other people do….what a waste of time. You do your thing, let me do mine and chances are you will not hear anything but words of support from me. Now that being said, I do find myself bugged from time to time and this past week there were several occasions that had my undies all kinds of twisted….got me thinking about the stuff that kinda bugs me.

The new Princess Cruises commercial where people pick up a seashell and it’s a phone…ugh, and it’s the “Sea calling”. Not only do I think it is a lame ass idea for a commercial, they have The Sea sounding like a fairy princess. Bullshit. The Sea should sound powerful, fierce and a little sexy if you ask me. Bugs me.

Another commercial, this time for Ball Park microwaveable burger patties where the closing line is, “You get a hot off the grill burger in one minute” well, no you don’t. You get a microwaved slab of beef that has never touched a grill in one minute. Bugs me.

The customer that comes to lots and lots of my tastings, nice enough woman that seems fairly eager, although she is a taster and not a shopper, but that isn’t it. It is when she feels the need to ask me very specific questions, like every time and on nearly every wine. Eyes all wide, voice kind of bellowing, I take a deep breath, (because I know what is coming) and get maybe three lines into the answer, that she requested, and she cuts me off with a, “Oh what do I know! I’m dumb!” shit you not, on almost every wine. I loathe being cut off in general but cut me off with something loaded like that….you’re almost asking for it. Bugs me.

The old guy that comes in once a month, printed pages from our newsletter in hand, quiet and mild mannered but feels the need to place each wine on the counter and ask, “This any good?” and when I look to the pages containing the words that brought him in to try the wine in the first place, then back at him and say, “Yes, it’s very good” and he lets out a somewhat distrusting giggle? Bugs me.

Wine professionals that have the nerve to say things like, “I’m not sure it’s smart business to serve the lowest common denominator of wine drinker” often referring to people that like things like Stella Rosa or Moscato. First of all selling wine IS our business jackhole, that means whatever kind of wine to the consumers that want them. Secondly, who gets to determine what is the lowest common denominator?! Give me one of those, “I know I like sweet wine” people over an asshat that has no idea what he likes, or should like and buys simply on scores…like any day. Bugs the fuck outta me.

The two least funny people on the planet. The ones that walk in the front door and say, “Hey, you got any wine?!” and the one that when an item fails to scan at the registers says, “Must be free then!” always laughing hysterically, at themselves, as if they were the first one to ever say it and can’t figure out why I’m not laughing too. Um, because you aren’t the first one to say it, heard it hundreds of times before and guess what, didn’t laugh at the first guy who said it either because it isn’t funny. Bugs me.

Anyone in the wine profession that believes their way is the only way. Happens way too fucking much for my liking, this implied and arrogant belief that others are deriving less pleasure from wine when they drink things in styles other than X. This has become so rampant in the wine world, especially in the blogging end of things that I’ve gotten to where I almost can’t read wine blogs anymore. You can find a writer tossing about the douchy “You don’t get it unless you like” in the post and then find the same bullshit from the other side in the comments section. Nice example and oh so welcoming to others that might still be trying to figure shit out for themselves. Bugs me.

People that refuse to admit that Provencal Roses are dry. Just can’t get past the pink color, will twist their face all up, often before even tasting the wines and say shit like, “That’s way…..WAY too sweet for me” and then run over for their bottle of Rombauer or Opolo Zinfandel. Shut up. You don’t want to drink pink wine, whatever, but call those wines sweet, because they’re pink but drink wines with way….WAY more residual sugar? You Bug Me.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fine Lady Of Scarves

“Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while, sorry about that but….do you remember my wife?” a longtime and often weekly customer that had gone missing in action over a year ago. He and his wife would stop in, walk about the Italian red and French white department before chatting us up and stopping by to admire the cheeses in our cheese case. She always in slightly hippie attire, long flowing skirts, blowsy shirts in wild patterns, often not at all matching the rest of her outfit, lots of strings of beads around her neck…he seemingly a few years her junior, thick Latin accent where hers reminded me more of someone from the Midwest, maybe East Coast. He was much more subtle, quieter almost as if he allowed her to be the “show” as it were.

Always got the sense that they had great taste but the small import business they owned, (fabrics and tapestries from South America if I recall) didn’t afford them quite enough to attain the things they craved. They never said as much but there was something wistful in their comments about Amarone and white Burgundy, a longing for a time when those things were attainable for them. They were always smiling and friendly and never left without something to sip on. When I heard the words, “Do you remember my wife?” my mind was instantly transported back to the last few times they were in, where I could tell she had lost weight and where her oft messy brown hair had been there were now scarves in decorative and splashy colors. I had assumed she might be ill but never dared ask….the answer to that unasked question and to where they had been was to be answered with, “She passed away.”

We spent about twenty minutes at the front counter, him telling me all that they had been through, the chemo, the having to move when she became too weak to climb the stairs, the hours in the hospitals, the late night trips to the restroom….the falls when her tired legs just couldn’t hold her up anymore, more ambulances, more beating up of her tired body, more hospitals. I was almost in tears the whole time but trying my best to just listen to him. Let him tell the tale that I’m sure he has been for the past couple months, him stopping every so often to assure me that she was in fact very lucky and suffered little pain. I could feel my chest filling the way it does when you are sucking in too much air and trying to stuff back emotion, as this man I had known all those years as the silent partner to the dripping with color and commentary lady, shared his story, their journey, the lady of fine scarves’ end. “She didn’t have to have hospice care and there was not much pain….or if there was she had learned to cope so well that we were unaware of it” my heart splitting wide open, knowing that  each word of his tale brought us that much closer to the end. Pretty sure he could tell, found him starting to smile more, an act of selflessness, another act of selflessness I should say, making a point to lean in a little and rest his hand upon my shoulder. “It was hard, really hard but we had a good five years before the cancer spread. We traveled, laughed and did the best we could. One night she was having trouble breathing again, the cancer had spread to her lungs, she got into bed, closed her eyes and then…she was gone. It was peaceful and how she wanted it to be.” 

My eyes were filling with tears but I didn’t even get the chance to cry or barely choke out an, “I’m so sorry” before he launched into the after. The dismantling of a shared life, home, business and the starting over on his own. My sadness replaced with admiration as waved off my sympathy and discussed what was next for him. “So” he said after a deep breath and a slap of his hands, “The reason I’m here, I need some Champagne” I stood there blinking, both in an attempt to dry out the tears that had puddled in the corners of my eyes and because I don’t think once, in all the years they shopped at The Wine Country, that I can remember helping them pick a bottle of Champagne. “When I first came to this country, 30 years ago” his face animated, playful and brimming with excitement, “I fell in love with hockey, the Los Angeles Kings” his voice getting louder and smile even broader. “My team is having one hell of a season and tonight might just wrap it up. It’s unbelievable. I almost don’t know how to feel. I keep asking, “Is this even real?!” but they keep winning. Un-be-lieve-able. So I figured this occasion called for some Champagne”. I was reeling a bit but took the opportunity to switch from heartbreak to Champagne like a starving woman being tossed a Ritz cracker. Gave him a wide sweeping wave and a “follow me” before walking him to our sparkling wine department. 

I began showing him things like J. Laurens, our best-selling and honestly, kickass little sparkler from Limoux. The Allimant-Laugner Brut Rose from Alsace. Went over flavor profiles and discussed what the wines were made from. He stood there quiet once again, before saying, “Did I say sparkling wine? I meant Champagne” I had been shopping for the couple that longed for the more expensive but bought the pleasant little sippers, not for this man that I was actually kind of meeting for the first time. “I’m sorry” I said, “I just wasn’t sure:” a big grin spread across his face, hand once again on my shoulder, he knew. Walked around to the Champagne side of our racks and much as he had done mere minutes before, found my way out of the sadness, found my voice as I pointed at, picked up and waxed rhapsodic about my little grower Champagnes.

This time it was me, the one wearing the big grin and chattering faster than he could even keep up. His head was whirling as I rested my fingers upon this bottle and that, pausing to talk about the family that made it, the tiny production, the richness and length. I threw nearly ten wines at him, admittedly keeping things in a price bracket that while miles….and maybe years, away from what he and his wife would spend, were in line with a man starting his life all over again while living in the warehouse that houses decades worth of accumulated fabrics and brightly colored scarves. He took it all in, grabbed the most expensive bottle I recommended, stood in front of me wearing a lightness that wasn’t there when he first walked in and said, “What the hell. They’ve earned it right?” to which I responded….

“So have you”

Nearly 11:00 PM on a Thursday night and all I can think about is that couple. Their years of patronage, silent yearning for wines just out of their “responsible” price range. Her vibrant scarves and personality, his humbleness and now more vocal nature. All that they went through and his stopping by to share it all and celebrate for the first time in five years. Inspiring. 

Cracked open an, anything-but-Thursday-night bottle of Champagne, made myself a batch of fries for dinner and am sitting here sipping, teeth breaking crispy potato flesh…my own loud scarves, thinking of them and feeling grateful.

Cheers to you Fine Lady of Scarves
Sleep well.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Came home the other evening after a long day at work and in between rushing to get some dinner on the table and trying to fire off some emails I didn’t have time to respond to at work, I clicked on my not-checked-enough email for this bog. There I found a very sweet and humbling letter from a silent reader, one where he way-over flattered my writing and confessed to having had a crush on me for over a year now. I was floored by the note, rather pink-cheeked by that whole crushing business and immediately wrote him back, thanking him for the almost unbearably sweet words and for reaching out to say hello. “As for that crush thing, you need only talk to my husband or friend me on Facebook for a cure” my response to his adorable confession of crushdom.  I then popped on to Facebook myself and posted about the note and my response, not bragging mind you, but because I knew that my friends there would know why getting closer to me is the quickest and most surefire way to take that “flame” to a fizzle. I am actually, rather obnoxious….

So as I think I have mentioned here before, I am married to one of the horniest men alive and after nearly twenty years he is still all over me with the enthusiasm of an eighteen year old. Oh I harbor no delusions that this has anything to do with me, pretty sure there is some genetic explanation for his one track mind and compulsion to pounce me nearly every time I walk by. Don’t get me wrong, I’m terribly flattered, (sometimes) and prefer the being mauled over the alternative, but there are times when I find myself shaking my head and thinking, “Dude, really?” Like the time he added “Underpants Inspector” to long list of job descriptions, thusly preforming the occasional “Spot Check” on me which amounts to grabbing my hips and slipping his hand down the back of my jeans before spinning me around and giving me the, “All clear” The time I walked into the bedroom where he was folding the wash and he grabbed all my undies, shoved them in his lap and began to sing, “Red under-pants on my junk. Black under-pants on my junk” that was a lovely little ditty, and the now famous on Facebook, turkey sandwich proclamation. 

This was where he and I were discussing lunch options and when I said, “I feel like a turkey sandwich” he raised his arm like the Statue of Liberty, finger pointed to the heavens and said, “For today I have renamed my penis Turkey Sandwich!” which of course I simply had to share on Facebook and so began a not so inside joke that is still running with many friends there. I’ve been sent pictures of turkey sandwiches, actual ones, had my wee neighbors yell through my front window, “Carl! We had a turkey sandwich!” and has even had me saying shit like, “Dude, you’re being a turkey sandwich” when my husband and I were bickering. Hell, even today I posted on Facebook, “Don’t tell my husband but I’m having a turkey sandwich” to which I was “liked” all over the place and received comments like, “Well, it is your birthday” along with another, “Out of the confines of marriage? You sinner” so yeah, I slink about the house, changing my clothes when the husband is occu-pod-o, aka in the toitty, trying to avoid the “RAWR!” when his horny dude senses alert him that I am near and might be naked, (which I almost never am by the way) I live in a constant state of flinching and looking over my shoulder, spastically ripping out of my clothes, my heart racing and eyes looking for shadows coming down the hall….and my Facebook buddies, well they get to hear it all, and then some. 

One night last week I came home wiped out. Just painfully exhausted and feeling like I had tugged about three hundred cases of wine with my ass all afternoon. Beat, days’ worth of dried sweat and fine dust caked on me like corn starch on a cutting board. Found my husband tied up on an afterhours work call and quickly made my way to the cavernous silence on my cool, dark bedroom. Twisted the dial on the fan that sits upon my dresser, the tick of the nob and whoosh of damp air was lifting my hair off my shoulders, sweeping it across my neck and the sound of my own groaning began competing with the steady hum of the twisting fan. I could hear my husband’s voice locked in work related babble, “The x-3000 modes are on the super big deal pricing so that fits in the budget” or whatever, sounding so far away that I began to slowly free the buttons on my shirt from the slits that held them in place all day. My nails brushing the soft patch of skin between my bound breasts, running along the sensitive skin on my tummy that seems to tighten and jump when being touched. Slipping off my too big jeans, wiggling out of them and leaving them in a pile on the floor before settling my rump on the edge of the bed, feet still on the floor, back falling into the mass of crumpled sheets and plushy pillows. The slow and powerful thump of my pleasure receiving heart a soundtrack causing my chest to rise and fall to the rhythm of the moment. 

I felt my eyes grow heavy, weary and tired as the spinning fan blew soothing kisses of air that skipped sweetly across my needing flesh. “Fuuccck” the word escaped my lips in a tone that dripped with surrender, my back bending just a little as I dug my head deeper into the mass of now cool sheets. I was alone, the room and the liberation of being there, in my bra and panties, my body shifting in slow motion chasing the whispering fan and the so fucking intoxicating pulling tight of my bare skin and tingle of fine body hairs standing on end, swallowing me whole. I found myself lost in the moment, greedily devouring the uninterrupted sensuality of near nakedness, a tired body seeking release and the deep sucking in of my breath as my fingertips joined the fan’s kisses dancing along my skin. The thumb on my right hand tracing my hip and scraping along my ribcage…back once again arching before the saturation of the moment became almost too much pleasure to bear. My palm now flat and pressed against my side, fine hairs, heart racing, head focused on nothing but each stolen second of “Please, don’t let this end” tired eyes now closed as my overtaken brain focused on the tiny erect bumps that spread across my body. My heart quickening, throat getting tight, mouth opening just enough to let my teeth dig into the plump meat of my bottom lip…nostrils opening wider to take in the sweet scent of submission, the heel of my right palm dug into my own side before lifting and gently resting on the plushy softness of my tummy, the thick nail of my thumb landing upon my bellybutton with a “click”. Click?! What the fuck in my bellybutton makes a clicking sound?!

My heart was racing alright, but this time with “Oh My Gawd, what the hell is that?!” panic. I jumped from the bed and scurried to the bathroom mirror, pulled my tummy tight, (this I DO NOT recommend to anyone trying to feel even a tiny bit sexy…ewe) to find what looked to be a large coffee bean or some savage bug buried deep in my belly….well, it’s not a button, more a hole. My first instinct was to just pull a large shirt over myself and pretend I never saw it. This lasted all of about twenty minutes. Before I knew it I was back in front of a mirror, sumo type stance, spreading my belly hole to see what the fuck had taken up real estate there. My face in as severe a scrunch as it had ever seen, nose nearly to my forehead as I squished, pulled and dug around in my too often ignored belly stuff. 

Would have been bad enough but for some reason I was compelled to hop on Facebook and say, “Just had a bellybutton….situation and there may be fossilization” before sheepishly approaching my husband, pulled tummy in hand, showing him the Tootsie Roll that was lodged in my belly hole. Needless to say, there was no Ninja Horny Guy pouncing at the exposed tummy with clicky-sounding-plug. No, there was a, “Sometimes secrets are good” comment, delivered with a “Dude, you’re gross” face before returning to the way more enticing doing of the dishes.


Woke the next morning, the morning after as it were, to walk past the husband just to have him smile at me. Smile. No grabbing, no underpants inspections and not even one “You look like you are craving a turkey sandwich” comment. Turns out belly hole neglect trumps forever horny dude. Who knew? Spent the morning saying things like, “What? You’re not into stalagmites?” or “Hey honey, you wanna go spelunking?” which of course cracked my not-fearing-the-pounce ass up, as did the, “Oh don’t worry honey, I’m on it, in a week you can slurp soup from this mother f’er” trying to choke back the laughter as he writhed in his, “Ewe my wife is disgusting” flashbacks of Tootsie Roll protrusion….and my Facebook “friends” they too got to hear it all. How lucky, and not crushing on me are they?!

Samantha Dugan, celebrating 41 years, today, of Crush Crushing…

Would like to take a quick second to thank all of you that sent emails, posted comments, (Winey the Elder, I’m looking at you) gripped my heart with flowers, cards and gifts.....absolutely overwhelming. I have to say, this birthday, while spent working a 9 hour shift at work and alone, was one of the sweetest and most overwhelming I have ever had. Cannot think of another time I felt more loved, appreciated and adored only my silly birthday as I did today. Sitting here with my glass of Bandol Rose, in my jammies, and wishing that I could smother you all with actual kisses, that you could see the tears, and pride that you filled me with today. Ron’s Rayas, (and the love with which it was sent) Kate’s wish of cheese indulgence, Veronica’s gift of Silex, Jess and her bunch of breath taking sun flowers, Chris and her keeping up with all that I’m doing here, my would be crusher, who’s fantasies I have just dashed, you all are here, at my table, sharing this wine and my undying love….thank you.