Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's Not The Lie, It's The Letting Go Of Believing

Trust is earned
And can quickly be destroyed.

“But, but he promised” Jeremy when he was about eight years old, in tears and completely heartbroken. A close friend of his had promised him something or other and reneged or backed out leaving my sweet son in utter disbelief and dismay. I remember scooping him up on my lap, resting his head upon my chest so he could feel as well as hear the words that I knew I needed to share with him, “Trust and promises, they don’t mean as much to some people as they do to you and I baby” a life lesson I knew he would someday discover but had hoped would be further out and maybe just a little less crushing. I had no idea what I was doing when I was raising my son in the beginning, but there were a couple of things I wanted to instill very early on, trust and knowing that if I promised him something he could have complete faith that it was true, that was on the very top of my list. And so it went for us, his fears soothed at times when I could promise him that everything was going to be okay, and as he grew older him returning that trust by being honest with me about what he was up to….with a few teenage hiccups of course but all in all, we’ve earned each other’s trust and protected that fiercely, even when, at times, those truths were hard to hear. On that foundation we’ve built the strongest love I’ve ever known. My heart is forever his and suspect his is mine as well. An extremely powerful thing that trust....and something of an intoxicating and haunting elixir. One I believe in so much that it is at the core of who I am, as a woman, a mother, a person, a lover, a partner and a retailer. 

Never given it freely myself that trust thing, been on the other side of true evil one too many times for me to just give that up right away. I protect myself, my sanity and heart, maybe too much at times, but I just can’t hand my trust over to anyone with a sweet smile, charm or slick tongue. I’ve got a big dumb heart and it is yours once earned but fuck me over, lie to me and make me feel foolish for believing in you, well that dumb heart will brokenly wise up, sometimes quickly and at others so painfully slow that there could never be a full recovery. I can suffer fools, clowns, moody and emotional people, have loved many of all of those in fact but I will not suffer people that lie or don’t trust me enough with the truth. Just can’t do it. Life is way too short to spend it trying to sift through half-truths, flat out bullshit and that double-speak that tries to spin things and make you feel like the asshole for questioning. If I love and trust you, give me everything, even the things you fear I won’t like, chances are, if I do really care for you, that I’m going to be on your side. Will feel safe enough with you to know that there was a reason or story behind, whatever, and accept and love you anyway. Doesn’t seem that hard to me, in fact it seems way, way the fuck easier than all that other nonsense, double-speak, covering of half truths and flat-out bullshit. So it turns out, this staunch belief in just being honest, works out really well in my chosen profession.
“You’ve never steered me wrong” I am lucky enough to hear that at least once a week, most weeks more than that and there is something so powerful and affirming about that. Just as there was when a very regular and loyal customer let me know that something I sold her was not at all to her liking, “I hated that” she told me and I nearly hugged her for it. Sure we all love the accolades but the, “Yuck that was awful” is just as important to hear. For a wine merchant to properly pick out wines for you, for you and your palate, we need to hear the truth and the whole truth. If we whiff on a recommendation, let us know, we won’t get our feelings hurt or think you’re wrong, how can you be wrong about your own palate?! We need to know in fact, to ensure that we don’t make those mistakes when picking wines for you again. A good wine shop has only your interest at heart, we have to otherwise why would you come back?! This is always on my mind when tasting wines and dealing with suppliers as well….
“Oh come on, it’s not that bad and most people won’t even know. Look, you can make some quick money and once it’s gone it’s gone” a supplier in my ear trying to talk me into bringing in a wine that was butt-suckingly dreadful but on deal and super cheap. Look, we are all looking for ways to bring in a blast of quick cash, especially right now but for me, can’t taste a wine like that, even knowing that I can sell it for fifteen dollars and double my money, without asking myself, “At what expense?” Sure I could buy this well-known wine that’s being sold at a quarter of its regular price, because it is tasting tired, stack it and make a pile of quick cash….but what happens when someone asks me about it? I’m going to tell them that it tastes like ass and they shouldn’t buy it, which in turn will have that customer asking themselves why it’s there in the first place, thus beginning the dissolution but, well I have to be honest if I want to have my customers trust me right? 
That pile of untouched “Money making” wine would still be there, dusty and getting more tired by the week, by the month, because I simply cannot fuck with the trust our customers have bestowed upon us…..I’ll leave that to Total Wine and their direct import, private label plonk and BevMo's Whatever No Cents Sale. Unlike those mega corporations we don’t have buckets of cash  to lose building our business. We only have word of mouth and our reputation….not about to screw with that for a few bucks. 
 Not ever.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Strange Magic

I smelled you yesterday.

Just for a brief second but it was you….

I’d been rushing about the shop, stacks of new value Bordeaux sliced open, the “tick-a-tack-a-tick-a-tack” of my price gun spitting tiny rectangular stickers upon the shiny new bottles. Running up to the front to answer the phone, answer a, “what would you pair with this?” question and scan purchases into the point of sale system before bending over to retrieve paper bags, plunking paper swathed bottles into them and bidding adieu to one customer just as another walks in. Lather, rinse and repeat all day. I was beat but in that good way, the way that pounds against your bones and sanity and remind you that each day is full of tasks as meaningful or less as you make them. Not solving the big problems, but handling enough of those little ones to make me feel as if I were doing something. 

My body tired and slippery with that sheen…you know the one, that one that causes your clothes to hang just a little longer on your skin. That one that coaxes those tiny hairs to lie flat and moist at the base of your neck. Between the recent construction at the shop, the warm weather and my incessant need to keep moving, physically to keep at bay the gnawing of the deep thoughts and, as it seems of late, enervating emotional fuckdom, my body was in need of a quick break and a splash of cold water. I headed back to the kitchen to refill my water bottle, my fingers tugging at and prying open the cap, hips in full stride and head slowly leaning back as my lips parted to take in the very last trickle of cold liquid my well worked bottle had to give. In classic Samantha form I swung a bit too much this way, or that, and found those last cherished drops of cold water gliding down my chin and landing in tiny beads across the front of my sticking to me shirt. 

“Oh goddamn it” I grumbled as I took a swipe at my dripping chin and tugged at the collar of my shirt, gathering it in a wad and pulling it across the puddle on my mug. It was there. There that I could smell you. I stood there like an idiot, shirt pulled so far up the skin above the waistband on my jeans was exposed, fistful of black uniform shirt pulled across my face like The Elephant Man seeking cover, my heart beginning to thump so hard I could feel it behind my earlobes. A tiny shiver shot down my spine as my nostrils expanded to take more of you, of us, in…..holding on to us as long as I could before having to exhale and dive back for more.

My oily and sweaty skin, the particles of shaved wood, fabric softener, the flinty and mineral whispers from inside my water bottle, sweet gamey sweat and the very familiar aroma of my own saliva, the way I’d smelled it over and over again as I ran my lips and tongue about you. In the middle of a construction zone, shirt hiked up, saliva scented water receding down my chin and landing like drops of, of fucking want, along my bare tummy as my heart set the pace for my breathing and my mouth begin to water. The sensual making me forget and remember.

It was you…










It was you

Meet me again…


I promise an open mind, wide heart and spread open palate that is

Yours and yours, in this way, yours only

Come inside

Live in me

Feed me

Feel me

Teach me...

Use me to feed, feel and teach them…

I’m willing, wanting, craving and

Slippery with ready.

Friday night.....can't come soon enough 

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

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sliding Down Below

“This is Jim, Josh and Samantha” Aline’s sweet but confident voice doing a roll call of sorts as our not-quite-worse-for-wear crew poured out of our self-assigned car ride seating and extended our arms in the direction of a trim smiling gentleman. I tucked the windblown hair behind my ears, tugged at my already wrinkled and poorly fitting shirt. The sun beating warm and comforting as my Converse clad feet crushed the tiny white pebbles in the driveway at P-L & J-F  Bersan. A blast of cool damp air met our sun-warmed faces as we walked into the tasting room of our first Burgundian winery. I looked around at the very rugby decorated, clean, sleek and slightly modern feeling tasting room. At first taken aback by the clean lines and glass cases but knowing where we were, in the Burgundian village of Saint Bris, well I was fully aware that below the cool tiles of the tasting, or retail space, there were miles and miles of caves dug beneath the street, a meeting place for French soldiers during war. My Chuck’s landing lightly on the tiles, my memory of my last visit to this amazing and historic region in the heart of the Auxerrois sending a bead of thrilled skin bumps down the length of my frame. 

Jean-Francois Bersan smiled gently in our direction and spoke in a tender tone as he and Aline handled a little business, in French before he called to his young, strapping rugby playing son Pierre-Louis to come over and give us a tour of the twisting caves that rested below the city. Pierre-Louis, a young twenty-something with a swath of dark hair, a firm athletic build and a smile that assured me that while confident, this young man was as genuine, and humble as they come. His English just fine as he walked us through the snaking caverns stopping only to point out a piece of the wall that had been dug out, long ago, that was a makeshift oven, “used to bake bread while the soldiers were down here” and to point to a fa├žade wall that separated their winery from the one across the street. “At one time there were none of these walls, we were all connected to each other through these” with a swerving hand motion, “These streets under the street.” Pierre-Louis’s voice lilting and exact the soundtrack as I took in deep chest filling breaths that were scented with damp chalk, and history. 

My fellow travelers and I emerged from underground, bits of broken stone stuck in the grooves of our shoes and morsels of fuzzy mold stuck to any part of our clothing that may have touched, or brushed against the mossy and moist walls. I stood there picking off remnants of antiquity while Jean-Francois popped corks and poured us cool, lip-smacking white wines. I listened, took mental notes and soaked in each and every line of their faces, each stony bite of white wine, committing those men, that place and the flavor of all of it to memory…a postcard to share with my customers when I got home. 

I knew those wines belonged at our shop, those men and their humble but genuine life’s work had dinner tables and palates that were craving them, they just didn’t know it yet and I was starting to writhe with the need to tell them. As we piled in the car, my tummy humming with the energy of falling in love and gnawing at me from the inside to “get to stepping!” and discovering more. The warm hug of a slight buzz pinching at my cheeks and flipping the switches that prepare, and warn me, my filters are getting looser…perfect as we were headed to Chablis to taste and have lunch with the wondrous, charismatic, unfuckingbelieveably talented wild man of Chablis, by way of Canada, Patrick Piuze.