A Difficult Step: My Coming Out

April 25, 2011

I have friends who have already taken this difficult step. In a way I guess I should have done this a long time ago. So, in an effort to be honest with all my friends and people I respect—people I interact with every day, I’ve decided this is the time and the forum for me to publicly share the difficult truth that I’ve been hiding for years. By being honest I can stop looking over my shoulder, nervously watching for people who might recognize me when I’m out with other people like myself. I can stop worrying about people I know from my “public life” recognizing me when I’m at those places where I feel so comfortable and happy. I’m tired of having this thing that seems so natural, feel shameful.   

I know there will be some who will not accept this. There will be some who want to think of me or remember me another way. To them, I’m sorry if you felt misled. I only hope one day you can accept me for how I am. I’d also like to thank my wife, who has been supportive, and graciously by my side throughout this ordeal. Even as I pause here now with my fingers over the keys, just before I take this step and make my secret life known, I’m nervous. So without further ado, I will just come out and publicly write my confession and thereby set myself free:

For the past three years I have been dressing up in costume to go to the Renaissance Fair.

I know this is a great surprise to some of you. For some of you this is a hard thing to understand, but if it helps you cope, let me assure you, I don’t do the accent and I don’t wear tights. No, my pants are more of the baggy, commoner type that are a bit more flattering than the pantaloon kind you see those freakazoid nobility dorks wearing.

This week’s recommendation has a similar story.

Inacayal 2010, Pinot Grigio ($11.99): In the past, wine people have been embarrassed to serve Pinot Grigio. Ordering it in a restaurant meant humiliation and scorn from the sommelier. As PG has improved over the last few years, so has its acceptability. Methinks Inacayal dost display pear and cream. Pray, on the morrow, good Sir, I bid Thee fetch yon flagon. Huzzah!

Like Wine, Even “The Whip” Matures

April 19, 2011

“I bought him the most adorable Phoenix Suns shirt,” my friend said, as he calmly stirred his coffee. I hadn’t seen him in fifteen years and I couldn’t believe my ears. This coming from the guy I partied my way through Europe with. This coming from the guy who squandered most of his twenties with me as a ski bum in the Bavarian Alps. Coming from his mouth, it couldn’t have been more at odds with how I remembered him than if he started the conversation with, “Ya know, the great thing about cancer is…”

This guy had been the human equivalent of the Tasmanian Devil from the Bugs Bunny cartoons. He was the guy you invited to your party to help get it going but then secretly hoped would leave before he set your closet on fire and convinced all the other party goers to dance around the blaze while beating on your pots and pans. He was the guy whose exuberance, mirth, zeal, and outright madness could not be contained in a simple name, and had to go by a nickname. And now, fifteen years later, there he sat, The Whip, right across from me, tame, and talking about his child. The fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, I mused as his little boy turned a bag of sugar upside-down on the kitchen floor.

 “Did I tell you I nearly wept with joy the first time I got to change his diaper?” He said.

I had to confess, I liked this version of The Whip. He was more refined, more laid back, and calmer. I didn’t fear we would end up running from a back-alley card game in Tijuana simply because we started the evening with “just one beer.” Yes, a little time, and a little age was good for him.

So my tie-in back to wine is probably obvious. What? Oh, you thought I was going to say something about time and age being good for wine too? Yeah, I suppose that’s pretty good. But no, what I meant to say was more like don’t wait fifteen years before your next glass of wine. You don’t want to miss any of the good times.

This week’s recommendation:

Talbott 2007, Logan Chardonnay ($16.99): Take a pitcher of fresh spring water, add a squeeze of lemon, drop in a handful of hay, and drink while smelling a bucket of buttered popcorn. Now you have an idea of the complexities this wine brings.

How the Lottery Will Change My Life—and My Wine Purchasing Habits

April 12, 2011

I just bought another Power Ball lottery ticket and I have a really good feeling about this one. I know I’ve said that before but this time I mean it. I’ve not won this game in something like eight straight attempts so what are the chances that can keep happening? Here’s a short schedule of how my life will change after Wednesday’s number picks:

Day 1) My first purchase will be new socks and underwear.  

Day 3) Winner’s press conference. The lottery holds this event to let everyone know that if a schmuck like me can win, you probably will too. My plan is to wear a fruity Carmen Miranda hat, big Elton John sunglasses, a wrestling singlet, a feather boa, and while holding a poodle that’s been dyed pink, I’ll look straight into the camera and proclaim that this money will not change me one bit.

Day 4) This is the day I’ll begin my long descent. Drunk with wealth, I’ll forget my friends and begin to only hang out with the famous and social elite. I’ll attend endless parties, get caught intoxicated and naked in my neighbor’s shed, get filmed trying to steal a llama, and be arrested for doing a Southern Baptist snake-handler dance at a children’s petting zoo. During one of many arrests, I’ll take the most unflattering mug shot ever by the rich and famous (and I’m including Nick Nolte’s).

Day 30) After a month of this self-destructive behavior, I’ll spend four days flying to Napa, Tuscany, Sonoma, Bordeaux, Santa Barbara, and Burgundy. Yes, in that order. I’ll do it that way because it’s more pretentious to say, “I’m off to France this afternoon,” than merely driving down the road to the next nearest destination. And yes that sounds pompous but money does that to me. With my entourage in tow, I’ll buy entire vintages of wine. Soon, a toxic mix of jet lag, hang over, and frivolous spending will overtake me.

Day 31) After just 31 days I hit bottom–broke. Slowly, over the next week, I get cleaned up, get religion, and get a publisher for the book I write of my story. I’ll then sell the movie rights for millions.

Day 39) I arrange a press conference where I wear a leotard and one of those big Russian furry hats. Hang on, world, here comes round two.

This week’s recommendation:

Trinitas 2009, Sauvignon Blanc ($17.99): This is a wine I could afford on day 31 but would happily drink during the most careless of my money hemorrhaging days. It has citrus and a light, spring-like sweetness that leaves you feeling like it’s day 39.


Similar but Different

April 6, 2011

The Nissan 270Z was developed in Japan by a group of young, hyper ambitious engineers. Each of them had the goal of performing the engineering equivalent of castration on the others. Given the task of creating the meanest, fastest, most wicked sports car on the road, they used their ambition, their youth, and their zeal to do just that. If they failed, plenty of hungry, young engineers eagerly stepped over them to do it right. Failure meant remaining behind with the hari-kari knife during the company picnic.

Right from the first line on the sketch pad there was anger and aggression. The poster on the office wall read, “Remember Hiroshima,” and this spirit seeped into the car’s plans. When sitting alone in a room next to the blue-prints, one often felt nervous as if in the presence of a menacing entity.

From design process to assembly, more aggression spilled into the prototypes. Menace grew during every stage and came to a crescendo in the final production where factory workers turned the screws in a way that spoke speed, applied lube in a manner that reeked of revenge, and sprayed paint with the samurai’s spirit of victory fresh in their heads. Weaker models were crushed into scrap right in front of the victorious models. The car was born with an aggressive, ruthless soul that hungered for victory.

The Dodge Caravan was born from older, contented engineers looking at one last project before retiring. Comfortable, safe, and with loads of head room, this was the vehicle for driving in the left lane while maintaining a cautious ten miles an hour under the limit. . The poster in their office read something like, “If you love something, set it free,” and had pictures of seagulls. Around closing time you might hear someone say, “Have a good evening, Bob,” or “Enjoy Emily’s recital, Frank.” The group’s credo was “Safer to Under-Power,” and lo, the impetus for putting a small four cylinder engine into a large minivan came to fruition.

Like the Nissan, the spirit of the van’s makers bled into the blueprints and became magnified throughout the production process. The final product possessed a spirit that was calm, safe, and as boring as the guy on the bus that keeps talking about his neighbor’s screen door. 

So which one is better? The short answer is neither. The longer answer babbles on about the vehicles being similar but different and made for a purpose suited to the taste of their drivers, blah blah. In the same way, this week’s recommendation highlights a Primitivo, a wine made with the same grape as the Zinfandel, but created in Italy by a very different group of people. It’s similar to Zinfandel but different.   

Rosa Del Golfo 2005, Primitivo ($15.99): I don’t know if this is the van or the sports car. What I do know is with its coppery/fruity/leathery complexity, this is one of the best quality-per-dollar wines I’ve ever come across. Ever.

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