Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I didn't go to the gym yesterday.  Once in a while, I have a day off.  So when I left work, there was nothing before me but the late afternoon and early evening.  And like so many others, I had normal things to do.  There is always, it seems, something that must be taken care of.  My first stop was the grocery store.  I went in to buy what I needed for dinner--beans, greens, and a small steak.  Oh. . . and a bottle of wine.  This particular store is huge and has been remodeled to accommodate what is supposed to seem a more upscale marketer, and it is through this section that you must pass before getting to the real grocery store.  I stopped in what was designed to look like a wine shop, row after row of wines in dark racks, more than is decent for a grocery store chain.  I like good wines, but I am not one to take notes and I am usually only looking for something one step above a table wine, but yesterday I thought to go maybe two.  And two steps above left me in limbo.  How could I choose, really, not knowing much about the small wineries that the bottles represented.  I knew I had a fifty-fifty chance of being screwed, of getting a bottle that was overpriced and still left a metallic taste after the third glass.  I finally settled on one. 

Since I was in little hurry, I lingered for awhile at the kitchenware section.  Non-stick ceramic pots and pans.  That is what I wanted, I thought.  It sounded clean and pure.  I looked at bowls with locking lids and wondered why no one had invented these fifty years ago.  The technology was not difficult.  Here were little sifters and there a variety of strainers.  It was fascinating, really, but overwhelming, too, and I decided to stick with my mental list for today knowing I could always come back to buy these other things some night when I needed a pick me up.  There is nothing like buying some new practical item to make you/me feel better.  It makes me believe that I am a real adult. 

And so with my little basket of foodstuffs, I went to the Speedy Checkout counter and set my things down.  The cashier is a woman I've seen working for this grocery store for many years, since she was just past her teens.  She is from another country, dark, swarthy skin, and the scars that are the result of some pretty bad acne.  In all the years I've seen her, we have never spoken other than the normal grocery store protocol banter.  I've noted that she is cheerfully friendly with many other customers, and I've wondered what it is about me that makes her silent, but not much, really.  I am used to being treated to extremes.  There is something about me, I've guessed, that is polarizing. 

Last night, though, she picked up the bottle of wine and stood there with it in her hand for a long time, not ringing it up but simply staring at it, reading the label, maybe.  I couldn't tell.  And then without looking at me, she said, "They say that drinking too much red wine is bad for you."  I shit you not.  After years of checking out at her register, this was the first thing that she said.  Now normally I am not a spooky guy.  I don't believe in oracles and such, but for a moment, I wondered if this was the voice of God. . . as if he were speaking through the burning bush. 

"Who says that?" I asked her. 

"I've just been reading," she answered in a strange accent I couldn't place. 

"Nope," I laughed, "they are wrong."

"What?" She looked serious and surprised.

"I've been studying this for years, and red wine is really good for you.  The more you drink, the better."  My eyes, I know, were sparkling. 

"Its confusing," she said.  "You read so many things. . . ."

"Well, you can trust me on this.  That's life's blood right there.  It is something holy." 

She finished ringing up my things and putting them into plastic bags without looking at me.  It seemed we had had our moment and that now we had gone back to our old relationship.  She handed me the receipt without really seeing me and wished me a good evening. 

When I got home, I corked the bottle and gave it a try.  Shit.  I'd been screwed.  This was little better than a bottle half its price.  It wouldn't stop me from drinking it, but I thought if I am going to buy better wines, I'd better start making notes.  A blind pig may find truffles sometimes, but not very often. 

On the other hand, I could take heed of the checkout girl's advice.  I'd save money.  No more than a glass of wine a day.  And not to close to bedtime.  A little wine with dinner, then a cup of warm sleepy time tea and steamed milk.  You can't be too careful, really.  I mean, she may have been an oracle after all.

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