On my list of “folks I’d like to see live.”
“Fluorescent Adolescent” / Arctic Monkeys (2007)
I participated in something called a “wine grab” at a charity thingamabobber a few months ago: I paid a set amount of money (ten dollars? twenty dollars? I can’t remember, but it all went to a good cause) and then chose a random number from a list. Then I matched my number to a “mystery bag” that contained a bottle of wine. It could have been a fifty dollar bottle, or it could have been a seven dollar bottle.
I ended up taking home a Merlot with a cool label, and even though it was more of the seven-dollar-bottle variety, I was excited: with this cheap bottle, I just knew that I would finally master the art of opening a bottle of wine.
No. Not even close.
Crimes against children and animals are probably the only thing that makes me angrier than trying to open a bottle of wine. I could not be a server in an establishment where I’m required to do this regularly.
Julie: Could I interest you in a glass of our Blah-de-blah Pinot Noir?
Guest: Actually, I think we’ll take a bottle of your Something-or-other Shiraz.
Julie gasps, her eyes widening in terror.
J: Oh… well… you’re sure you wouldn’t like to try some Mumble-mumble Sauvignon Blanc? It’s quite good, and… you know… it’s already open…. I just ask the bartender to, you know, put it in a glass for me and….I bring it to…you…
G: We’ll take the Shiraz and three glasses.
J: Oh god.
Twenty minutes later…
J: Well, here are your entrees!
G: And our wine?
J: Oh? I’m sorry?
G: We ordered a bottle of the Shiraz. Quite awhile ago.
J: Oh, that? Ha-ha! Thought you were, you know, not serious. Like when you saw me break into a cold sweat when you ordered it, I thought you might, you know, change your mind. That shit’s terrible, by the way. The wine, I mean. Wouldn’t touch that crap with a ten-foot pole. Or a six-foot Lithuanian! Ba-dum-ching!
The table stares blankly at Julie.
J: Not in the mood for jokes, huh? Well let’s just get y’all some fucking wine then, huh? Huh? … For real, though? The entire bottle?
Julie returns to the table, her face pale, sweat dripping from her forehead. She sets down the glasses on the table.
J: Well, here are your glasses. Last chance to, you know, get something better. Might I sugges–
G: Just open the wine. Please.
J: Ha-ha! Sure thing! On the double! Right away! See? I’m doing it right now! I’m going to let you look at the bottle here. You’re sure this is what you want? Read the label carefully. I can get your a flashlight if you need it. Or glasses? Want me to find you some reading glasses?
G: Just. Open. The. Wine.
J: Okay! Here I go! Opening it right up for ya! First I’m gonna take this pointy end and slice this seal – One fluid motion, eh? Just…cut… right… through…
G: Is that blood? Did you just cut yourself?
J: Oh! That? Ha-ha! That’s just, you know, seal juice. Leaking from the bottle. I, uh…
G: Your thumb is hemorrhaging.
J: Yup. It does that sometimes. Silly thumb!
G: No, seriously. That’s a lot of blood.
J: Oh, no-no-no. I’m fiiiiine. Just gonna get this…fuuuucking seal…off, and…
J: Well, it just doesn’t want to slide off there, does it? Maybe if I…. work at it…
Julie stabs at the neck of the bottle with the blade.
J: Mother! Fuuuuuuu—
Julie brings bottle to her mouth, tearing at the seal with her teeth.
J: There! There we go! Time to… open ‘er up!
G: Uh. Are you ok?
J: Oh. Yup. Just, you know, thinking about my plan of attack here!
Julie inserts the tip of the corkscrew into the cork and presses firmly, twisting like she saw in that YouTube video she watched fifty times- the one that made it look so goddamn easy.
J: So what brings you out tonight?
G: I think maybe you don’t need to put it in that far…
J: Hey-oh! That’s what she said! Huh? Am I right?
G: No, you’re going to have a hard time getting—
J: Hey. You’re the one who had to have this fucking bottle of wine, asshat. Just please. Allow me the pleasure of opening it for you.
J: Ho-kaaaaay…. Now I pull with a firm, upward motion to remove the cork, and–
J: What the fuck?
Julie struggles with the corkscrew, which is now firmly imbedded into the cork.
J: Oh, god, cork. Don’t you do this to me. Don’t you fucking do this to me. I swear to the almighty freeeeeaking god I will end you. Did you hear me? I will END YOU.
G: Um, you know what? Think we’re just gonna take the check and be on our way!
J, now speaking in a deep Satan voice: NOOOOOOOOOOOO. I WILL OPEN THIS WINE AND YOU WILL DRINK THIS WINE AND IT. WILL. BE. DELIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!
Julie breaks the cork.
J: Fucking hell!
Julie removes her apron and storms out of the restaurant.
Have you ever had a moment when some imaginary Brain Turntable spontaneously flicks on and a song begins playing? It’s like your brain is providing the soundtrack to your daily goings-on, except instead of a carefully-researched song chosen to perfectly complement the moment, it’s a random neural firing that makes no real sense at the time.
Here’s mine for today.
“Summer of ’69” / Bryan Adams (1984)
I think the phrase is “waiting for the other shoe to drop,” right? What does that even mean – like, denotatively? Why are they carrying shoes? Why aren’t the shoes on their feet? Why don’t you just put the damn shoe down before you drop it?
Every once in awhile I look back and evaluate my life and panic: as Joe Walsh so poetically waxes in “Life’s Been Good To Me So Far,” well, yeah. What he said. There are numerous things that have/haven’t happened that ten-year-old me assumed would by now: at almost-thirty, I should be married and working on my third or fourth kid, living in a house with a bitchin’ swingset, with no fewer than fourteen dogs. Oh and also, I am a doctor, or a famous actress, or a teacher and my husband is a famous singer/doctor/lawyer/artist. Of course this is how things were supposed to turn out, yes?
But no, seriously: I’m feeling an almost-overwhelming sense of dread. I suspect that, with my absolutely lovely life right now, something horrible is about to happen. Just can’t shake it. Waiting on that shoe, as they say.
I have gracious and wonderful parents who, though they drive me crazy sometimes, are super people who continue to spoil me – even though I no longer live with them, I leave their house each time I visit armed with leftovers, or rolls of paper towels, or mixing bowls, or some other random trinkets the my mom doesn’t use and insists I need. My dad, less vocal about my “needs,” very randomly bought me a chair for my balcony the other day. A gift completely out of the blue. Granted, I think his ulterior motive was that he’d have somewhere to sit when he visits (the man is obsessed with the balcony), but still. Sweet.
I have a great job that, while not full-time employment, allows me enough hours so that I can afford said place with said balcony. My baby brudder, recently transplanted to the hyper-expensive East Coast, pays twice what I do on rent for a homestead roughly the size of my bathroom. My new home has luxuries like a dishwasher and washer/dryer – it might sound silly, but dang these things are convenient.
My friends and family are a (very, hehe) assorted mix of people and life experiences that combine to make my life all the more richer and satisfying.
I don’t want for anything, and am a little troubled by these embarrassments of riches. I veer back-and-forth between feeling frivolous (no one needs cable television or a newspaper subscription, but I have both) and eternal gratefulness (I have the means to subscribe to both these services, wow!).
I’d count my blessings, but they’re just too numerous. I know, I know, that sounds really corny but it’s true: any little woes or minor predicaments I come across are insignificant. I don’t know what’s up with my brain, but lately I feel almost undeserving. I am almost convinced that something awful is about to happen. Or I feel ashamed about how good I have it, but then I feel ashamed of feeling ashamed because shouldn’t I just be happy and grateful and just take things as they are, without marring them with ugly feelings of guilt?
Does anyone else ever feel that way? What do you do about it?
Padma: For today’s Quickfire Challenge, you are to assemble an edible meal using only the ingredients in Julie’s kitchen.
Contestant 1: Wait, “edible”? That’s the only requirement?
Padma: Yes. The meal must be edible, and cannot cause the judges physical harm.
Contestant 2: Are you serious? Is this a joke?
Padma: No, this is not a joke.
Contestant 3: You guys aren’t even trying anymore…
To the camera:
Contestant 1: Are you bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeping kidding me? I’ve got this one in the bag!
Contestant 2: These jokers won’t know what hit them when they see what I come up with.
Contestant 3: I think it’s a trap, but lucky for me I spent most of my childhood escaping from possum traps.
In the kitchen:
The Contestants are searching through the contents of Julie’s Kitchen, opening drawers and cabinets and scouring the refrigerator.
Contestant 1: Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. There are no eggs? Where are the eggs? How am I supposed to make a quiche without any bleeeeeeeping eggs?!
Contestant 2: What are “Toastee Whole Grain Oh’s?”
Contestant 3: I think these raisins have expired…
Contestant 1: Ok, no eggs. That’s ok, that’s ok… I can make… uh… Well, there’s a some oatmeal. Oh, and here’s another can of oatmeal… Wait, is this more oatmeal? Why is there so much bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeping oatmeal?!
Contestant 2: I don’t understand. Why is this cheese already shredded?
Contestant 3: These strawberries are fuzzy…
Contestant 1: Bleeeeeeeeeeeep this bleeeeeeeeeeeeeep I’m bleeeeeeeeeeping outta here!
Contestant 2: I AM TOO CONFUSED.
Contestant 3: I’m going home.
At the Judges’ Table
Padma: Chefs, you were tasked with preparing an edible meal using only the contents of Julie’s kitchen. Let’s see what you’ve come up with. Contestant 1, this appears to be a bowl of… pencil shavings?
Contestant 1: It’s spices. Why were so many bleeeeeeeeep seasonings if THERE’S NOTHING TO BLEEEEEEEEEEP SEASON?!
Padma: I’m sorry, Contestant 1, but I’m afraid you’ve missed the mark. Contestant 2? This is…? What is this?
Contestant 2: It’s called being resourceful!
Padma: It appears you just squirted mustard onto a kitchen sponge… Um, contestant 3? We have another dish served in a bowl…
Contestant 3: I call it a naked PB & J.
Contestant 3: Well, there was no bread, so…