Tag Archives: wine

Wine Whine

I’m all about doing my errands to and from work, so the other day I popped into a new wine store on my way home. That the sandwich board said something about cheap wine was merely a seal on the cork. Turned out to be more like a snake in the grass.

I walked into a sleek, white space, and it’s not just me saying it. The Google blurb calls it a “sleek liquor store.” It also says it has wine tasting machines that dispense samples, which must be well-hidden. Or maybe I was so distracted by the sleekness, I missed them. Sleekness apparently means bottles must be stored upright, 6 bottles high, with an additional 4 inches high of space per bottle. That is approximately 2-3 more bottles high than I can reach. I’m pretty sure no one under 6 feet tall could reach the top shelf. If you want to force customer interaction and make me ask to get a bottle of wine, move your business to the South. Ain’t no New Englander got time for that. Especially those after a long day at work. See, if we New Englanders want help, we’ll ask. If we want to chat, we’ll go visit a friend. Got it, Sleek?

As I was puzzling over the overwhelming display, a young one came out of left field, or actually from the left side of the store, and startled me. He of course asked if I needed help, and when I said I was just looking, he said something curt and turned away. That would have been a good time to offer the wine dispensing machine, my friend.

But personally I think it was because he knew damn well the wine rack system was incomprehensible without his guidance, and he was mad he didn’t get to explain it. Note to young hipsters: if I have to spend any time figuring out your wine storage system, you’ve probably already lost me. And maybe you didn’t want me in the first place, so perhaps the feeling is mutual. Fair enough.

Now there are occasions when I’m buying for another person, and I love nothing better than saying to a wine store person, “I need a wine to impress a Frenchman who is rather picky in his wine choices and drinks only reds, preferably grown in sandy soil.” They love that shit, believe me. And depending on the friend, I don’t mind spending money.

But today I was just buying for me, looking for a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc. But the Sleek Wall of Wine didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to it. There was a sauvignon blanc over there and another up here. I wondered if it was like a bar, with the “top shelf” stuff higher up and the bargain stuff at the bottom? Or maybe it was alphabetical? Nope. Then I notice 2 big labels: 1W and 2W. They were sitting near each other, with no explanation. Was it code? A bad rhyme ? 1 wine, 2 wine, red wine, white wine? Cripes, now I need a key or decoder ring? I glanced around, but didn’t see a key posted anywhere. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to ask the hipster now. This was war.

That’s when I realized there were no price tags. What fresh retail hell is this?

winewhine1

So, you’re going to make me ask you to recommend a Sauvignon blanc and you’re either going to hand me a $30 bottle or ask me what my price range is and just like the real estate agents do, you’ll make sure to stay in my upper range. Hey, hispter, what’s in your 2/$15 bargain bin? Oh, wait, all this sleekness discourages a bargain bin, despite your “come hither” sign about cheap wine. What a scam.

At this point my head was spinning, and not in a good way from drinking too much wine, so I left. I was pretty sure there was another wine store before I was going to get on the train.

Sure enough, several blocks later, I saw a little store with wine and groceries. Ahhhh. Familiar wooden racks, wines displayed on top, and the extras directly beneath, laying horizontally snug. And hey, looky here! Three Sauvignon blancs next to each other and 2 from New Zealand. All with sticker prices. Fan-fucking-tastic.

I picked a bottle, handed the nice man my 10 bucks, and was on my way.

I do wish Sleek Wine Store all the best. I’m sure you’ll be great down South.

A Little Help from My Friends

My head is full of thoughts and ideas. This is pretty much a normal state for a writer, except right now very little of it makes any sense: there are a lot of competing ideas, a lot of unfinished random thoughts, a fair number of WTF exclamations, some stuff that’s just plain wrong, and there are a few usable ideas, but most of it is scary–it’s kind of like Facebook in my head right now. And nobody needs that, least of all me. I do think there is a coherent thread forming about how I want to move forward, and I wish I meant, should I write more blogs about bad dating or funny work stories?  Oh, the good old days.

But no matter what state the world is in, I can count on my annual girls’ weekend. We all went to high school together, and two of us have been friends since 4th grade. We gathered in Boston this weekend and enjoyed the weather and walked in the city, talked, laughed, ate, drank, ate more, drank more, and laughed again. Luckily, we are all on the same side as far as being horrified by what’s going on–that is not the case with our larger circles. It also came in handy for when we started playing the card game setback. None of us could bear to say trump, which comes up a lot in that game. I’m pretty sure it’s in the rules that you have to frequently ask, “What’s trump?” during the game, and it’s definitely not because of wine consumption. So, we took a stand and refused to say it, and instead said obama. In addition to asking what was obama, every time someone laid down a you-know-what point card, one of us shouted, “obama!”

We agreed to not dwell on politics and try to stay positive, that is until the third glass of wine; then it’s open season for dragging out old, embarrassing stories. But that’s where the healing laughter comes in, and we are very fair in making sure everyone gets laughed at. We’re good that way. And I want to be clear that even though we are all of a similar political persuasion, we did not discriminate and were inclusive: we had wine, beer, cocktails, and we even had an educational, in-depth lively discussion about the origins and making of scotch, whiskey, and bourbon. So stick that in your obama.

I always feel lucky for knowing these women, but this year I feel it even more. Here’s to you Colleen, Gloria, and Sue. No one makes better fun of me than you guys or plays a better obama card game.

Dirty Laundry

It’s been one of those weeks where work suddenly went from 100 to 1,000 and none of us could figure out if we were just recovering more slowly than usual from the post-Thanksgiving food coma or if work really had picked up exponentially. I found myself constantly chanting calming mantras more in the style of George’s “Serenity now!” in Seinfeld than like a person attempting to access her higher self. My Higher Self does seem to go off to a mountaintop and leave me when the going gets tough. Witch. And even though Higher Self had abandoned me, I was still trying to be good and not manage stress with cheese, chocolate, and wine, my weapons of choice. As an alternative, after work I was looking forward to seeing a friend who makes me laugh–the perfect antidote to work stress, right?

Then he had to cancel. Uh oh. My wafer thin determination to do the right thing melted faster than a communion host in a guilty Catholic’s mouth.

Right. On to the grocery and liquor stores.

I secured them without mishap and headed home not feeling nearly as guilty as I should have, but the universe wasn’t quite done with me yet. As I pulled into my driveway, my headlights illuminated a carpet runner hanging from my upstairs neighbor’s balcony, which, by the way, had been greeting me all week. This time there were also three additional piles of throw rugs clustered around my front door.

Serenity now!

You see, the laundry situation started this summer. Laundry was hung out on the balcony nearly every day, all summer long. Just on the railings, mind you, not on a clothes line or racks which would actually keep them, you know, near your house. So all summer long I pulled into my driveway to see various towels, socks, jeans, men’s underwear (yes, lucky me) on the ground huddled around my door as if they were trying to escape the neighbors. I can’t say I blame them. I came face-to-face with one of the glassy-eyed residents of Laundry Fetish Central and realized I wasn’t dealing with your garden variety annoying neighbor. She came out on the stoop, looked around blankly, and then stared at me as I retrieved my mail. She didn’t speak.

“Yes?” I asked.

“Oh. I thought you were the visiting nurse,” she answered slowly, even though there were no cars anywhere in sight on the street. No cars except for my car. In the driveway. Where I park it. Every day.

Then as I was walking to my door with mail in hand, she swiveled her head slowly to the mailboxes. “Oh, did the mail come?” So many ways to answer that, but I decided walking away was best. Not that she even noticed.

All summer I was tempted to leave the laundry where it fell, but they seemed to forget it was out there, and, anyway,was the one who would look like white trash with laundry peppering my walkway. So sometimes I threw it back up on their deck, and sometimes I hung it on the railing to their front door. Neither way stemmed the laundry tide.

I figured I just needed to hang on until the weather got cold, but they just seemed to shift from clothes to rugs. The long one in the picture above has been there all week and has been rained on twice. As much as I try to imagine it is a royal banner to welcome me home to my castle after a day out riding on a beautiful steed (serenity now!), I can’t quite get past the big stain and the 80s colors. My friends and I have been trying to figure out what’s really going on. Is this really a laundry fetish or something else? Do they “take in laundry” like a depression-era housewife trying to make ends meet? Is that even a thing anymore, “taking in laundry”? This summer I did see one guy in front of the house taking laundry from the house and then folding it in his car. Is it a drug-induced obsession or are drugs so cheap you can use them to pay for laundry? Is it a literal laundering scheme, like they distribute drugs in pockets of cleaned and folded pants and shirts? Dang, I should have checked those pockets this summer.

Because we watch too much TV, we were convinced we were on to some novel trend of people on drugs doing laundry for nefarious purposes, so I Googled “drugs and laundry.” But as you’d expect, the references were primarily more of the pedestrian metaphor variety. What a disappointment. Still we think there’s more to this than a laundry fetish. I mean, who does that much laundry without a dryer?

Or it could be just the universe messing with me and poking me like the Annoying Orange–Hey! How about some work stress? Hey! How about a friend canceling? Hey! How about some more freakish laundry? Higher Self finally showed up and joined me in the car, and as I stared at new piles around my door, I realized the only thing I could do was laugh–heartily at myself.

As stressful as my week at work was, it was because the actual work seemed to pile up. It was not like that job I had a number of years ago when I worked for a woman we referred to as the dementor. I will see my friend again at some point and laugh, and as weird as Laundry Fetish Central is, I’ve had worse neighbors.

Plus, it’s bound to snow soon, and then the rugs will get covered up like a real laundering scheme. Now that’s some serenity.

 

It’s Nothing Personal

So here I am four years post-separation and marriage. During the summer I amused myself by getting reacquainted with girlie things—dresses, shoes, and those whatchamacallits…oh, yeah, accessories. I couldn’t quite pull off sexy, but I got and had a lot of laughs. Summer slipped into autumn and winter is nearly upon us, and even though the girlie dresses are getting cold, I still want to wear them. Out. Somewhere. With sincere apologies to Keats, I now find myself slouching towards dating Bethlehem. I’m still not interested in actual dating, but I’m interested in the idea of thinking about maybe seeing what might be out there. Makes me a perfect catch, don’t you think? I am the consummate researcher and thinker, which, for your information is absolutely very different from a procrastinator. I’m a writer, I know the nuances of language better than you.

In any event, I realized I’m in a good position to evaluate the personals. What do they look like compared to when I answered my ex’s personal ad in the Boston Phoenix, Boston’s alternative weekly newspaper, more than 25 years ago? Of course the internet and apps have intervened in the interim, but I limited my research to just personals because 1) I’m too lazy to actually create a dating profile on a site like Match.com, 2) I’m still scarred by my friends’ stories about how brutal and dishonest these dating sites are and 3) I’m not quite ready for an app like Adult Friend Finder—no explanation needed for that I think, except to emphasize that the technology allows you to meet someone RIGHT NOW. No judgment and call me old fashioned, but I just like to get a drink or two and dinner first.

So where to go? Craigslist personals, that ubiquitous, democratic, free internet space that provokes pretty much the same response from people as the Boston Phoenix personals did 25 years ago. Mild shock quickly followed by admonitions to be careful of all the murderers on there. The similarity was downright heartwarming. So far so good! I plunged on with my research, and here, dear reader, is my take on personals then and now:

The Phoenix had the regular personals and a section where sex was a main feature. I believe it was hip enough to also have the basic categories for gays and straights. Craigslist has nine sections and within in them, evidence of the wonder of human variation and preference. Since I’m kind of boring, I stuck with two, “casual encounters” and the “men seeking women.”

All I remember from the Phoenix was that the personals pretty much sounded all the same. The guys liked dinners, movies, and walks on the beach, which was pretty useless—what kind of food? What kind of movies? My ex’s ad actually had specifics, which made him stand out. Now? Holy acronym Batman! LTR, BBW, HWP. Within minutes I was Googling “Craigslist acronyms”: long-term relationship, big beautiful or black woman, height-weight proportional. And that’s when things really got interesting. At one point I forgot I was looking to see if there was anyone I maybe wanted to think about contacting because the specificity is fascinating. This ain’t no dinner and movies crowd.

First there are all the attributes. Ladies, if you get discouraged about all the ways the media reinforces ridiculous standards of beauty, just go to Craigslist—fair warning you are going to see more pictures of men’s junk than a porn site and the fetishes are rampant, but once you get past that, you will find guys looking for BBW, bubble butts, big breasts, small breasts, requests that a woman have a little meat on them. Tall women, petite women, single mothers, HWP, geeky women, tiny waists with big hips. Something called “thick” which even the guides can’t agree on. I thought it was maybe somewhere between HWP and BBW, but then I saw a picture of a “thick” example, and I thought she was actually HWP, so what do I know? I guess the poster will know it when he sees it. Of course there are the straight out requests for being hot looking and thin/athletic. But there are not as many as you would think, and the guys claim to be the same. And that has been going on since Adam was hoping for a hot babe who was an independent thinker and had healthy eating habits.

When men do make very specific or even wacky requests, they often apologize for it and explain they don’t mean to offend, it’s just what they prefer, which I found kind of touching. Sure they may have gotten flamed by some pissed off women or they are simply savvy marketers. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s a nice touch.

The details included in the personals turned out to be my downfall. I stopped looking for myself and got lost in my writer’s curiosity. I tend to be attracted to guys who make me laugh, and so don’t really have a type. How do people get such specific types? For example what is it about a bubble butt that gets you going? Honestly, thank goodness they included a picture, because I wasn’t even sure what that was. Of course the pictures, clearly of real people, got me started on a whole other line of thought. Where are these people now? Do they know they are a Craigslist poster girl for a ______ (fill in the blank). Then I think how many women actually respond? How many of a type can there be?

Which of course brings it around back to me. I’m happy for all the women out there whose type is being called out and worshipped (a lot of guys promise to worship these various parts). But then that means I have the opposite, but equally annoying problem of 25 years ago when the ads were too vague. Then it was OK, we both like movies, but what if I like “Equalizer” and you like “Her”? Now I have to figure out where my body fits into the acronyms. I can knock out the extremes—I’m proudly not fit or athletic. Which is just as well because the guys who ask for a fit or athletic woman always list their hobbies as hiking, running and all manner of exercise—ugh. I tend to gravitate to the guys who talk about food and wine. Also, I’m not a BBW or a bubble butt. My breasts have never been big, and thanks to my recent weight loss, they have actually gotten slightly smaller (you really can’t win sometimes). I have big hips, but my waist ain’t anywhere near tiny. It actually was a while before I encountered HWP, which shows you how many requests there are for just a regular gal—not many. I guess they are all on Match.com.

Once I could tear myself away from these fascinating guys and their requests and I decided I was HWP, I started lurking among this small number of ads. I could eliminate at least 75% of the guys off the bat. They are in their thirties or younger, and I’m not quite ready to be a cougar (although that is not an infrequent request).  Of the remaining men, there are the people who are looking for love and long-term, while others are uncomfortably honest (married seeking same). A few are just liars/too creepy if true. One guy claimed to be very successful and was looking for someone to travel with him on his boat and winter in Florida. Um, I was just looking for dinner, wine, a few laughs, and home by midnight, thanks! And that leaves me about one possibility every few weeks. And even at that point the general rule of Craigslist is that half the time, people will flake out on you and not show up.

So through very careful, research, combing through pages of original documents, I have come to a very scientific conclusion about dating today versus 25 years ago. It ain’t any easier, whether you are looking for an LTR, an Adult Friend, or just looking for dinner, wine and a few laughs. But at least if you have been hiding your Craigslist lurking habit, you can tell people you only know about it because you read it here. You’re welcome. The girlie dresses can wait until spring.

Photo credit: Glamour.com, “Here Are a Few Not-So-Solid Dating Tips From the 1930s”