The Wine Merchant

A girlfriend and I went out this afternoon sans tots. It's possibly the first time I've been out on the town with neither The Bun nor my husband since the tot was a couple months old, and then only once, so it's been a long time. First we had lunch, which was fine and dandy but seemed anti-climactic, so she pointed out a wine store up the street having a free tasting. Two girls out in the afternoon without the babes? What better way to spend it than drinking free wine?

We tasted, we gabbed, and then she bought me a bottle of wine on the condition that we have a glass together before we went our separate ways. We sat in the corner sipping this glorious, moderately priced vino, and I was speculating how someone as young as the wine merchant got the swanky job of traipsing around Italy eating glorious food, drinking wine from dinky vineyards and then selling it. More to the point, I was wondering how he stole my dream job when he walked up to our table.

"Which wine did you buy?" he asked, not expecting that the wine she had purchased wasn't one of his.

She showed him the label.

"Zinfadel." There was a mild snort of derision. "I've sort of passed on Zin's since I really got into Tuscan wine," he exhaled.

"This one's really good," she replied. "It's the only Oregon Zin there is." They talked about its merits for a moment. I thought he was a blowhard. I more or less ignored him.

"Does it have white pepper?" he asked.

We were dumbstruck.

"Do you mind if I smell your bottle?" he asked.

"Why don't you grab a glass and have a taste?" I countered. Smelling a bottle is weird, no matter if your the world's best sommelier, and a tiny glass is cheap. Plus, smelling someone else's bottle, doubly weird.

He said some crap about the wine. I thought he was being pompous. "It goes down sort of blah blah blah," he said, " but it has a spectacular finish," he winded. "For a Zin it's not bad." It's also three times better than the smack you're selling, dude, but whatever. And by the way, how'd you get my job?

Eventually he left.

We continued sipping our wine and talking.

After we parted company I reflected on the conversation with the wine merchant. It dawned on me that he sounded like a pompous ass because he was hitting on us. He was trying to impress us with his knowledge and prowess in the wine aisle. It's been so long since I've been hit on (or near anyone who was being hit on) that I forgot what it was like.

And then it all came into view.

What he saw: Two young women out for the afternoon, perhaps shopping, perhaps just enjoying being singletons on the city, who popped into the wine store on a lark. Chatting exuberantly over a bottle of wine, as if this were a part of the lifestyle, a part of our everyday life.

What it was: Two harried and exhausted mothers making the most of their one afternoon by drinking for free and then living it up by buying wine that we couldn't afford. Talking boisterously about our husbands, whom we love dearly, and our babies, whom we love dearly but drove us to the edge of madness with fatigue. Deep discussions about feeding, diapers, drool, snot and how we can't afford nice things anymore.

I told my husband about it when I got home. He laughed. "I'm sure what he overheard was, "Look at him, what a nice butt on that guy," when what you really said was, 'Looking at baby butt day after day is no picnic.'

I said, "If he had had any idea what our conversation was, it was absolutely the least sexy conversation imaginable: two women talking about their husbands, fluids, and the babies that make them."

It could not have been a less aphrodisiac conversation. Somehow that's immensely satisfying.