Monday, June 23, 2014

Wine Knowledge

Wine Knowledge
In the quiet hours at night, I giggled uncontrollably at certain passages, certain descriptions in Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. They were the passages that would not be funny in the least to her when I tried to read them to her after my giggling woke her up.

The only thing I can think is that it was my disposition at this time: wintertime in Wood Village, Oregon. We were holed up in Mimi's basement mother-in-law apartment. We were living on the margin. We were just the two of us then. We had a few bucks, and we had no real work between us. Our days were nothing but rain, walks to the library, walks to the grocery store. We ate three solid home-cooked meals a day, we drank cheap beer and wine. We read books. We waited impatiently for spring and for work. For whatever reason Hunter S. Thompson tickled me, it was well worth the time invested in reading it.

Spring came.

The tsunami destroyed Japan, and it gently rocked the Pacific Northwest shore. I hung mirrors for a living. I was a professional mirror hanger. There are only so many mirrors you can hang before you start to look at yourself. And there is only so long you can look at yourself before you start to learn something about yourself. There are only so many things you can learn about yourself before your realize that so little of it is good.

I took to the streets. I took to the streets in the distant city of Portland. I wandered into one restaurant after another with my resume in hand and my best suit on. Between the hours of 2 and 4 I could visit 4, sometimes 5 places. Sometimes when hunting for a job like this you can get all the way to the owner of the joint for the on the spot interview. Sometimes you don't get further than the 18 year old hostess.

The cloud of late winter/early spring hung over the valley. The Willamette river ran with swollen levels through the city dissecting the place east from west. I worked the west side. I worked through the Nob Hill district on the best grid imaginable: avenues, ordinal and streets, alphabetical. The slowing rain of late winter/early spring made the place smell like hope, something like new blossoms and mold. I worked through the southwest portion of town, downtown. Downtown smells like leaf rot, mold and car exhausted.

I had lost all confidence in humanity. I would never regain much in the years to come.

The place had been called Atwater's the last time I had been in there. I had been in there with a dear friend who had confided in me during a lunch break some years earlier. This new restaurant in the old Atwater's was my last stop of the afternoon.

When asked about my wine knowledge, I gave a very convincing bullshit sort of answer. I have been giving the same sort of answer ever since. If you need to know what it is, watch a few youtube tutorials and read a few wiki articles. Whatever you do, learn the proper way of opening a bottle, and don't spill a drop.

In the early afternoon hours at this restaurant, the views are so complete. To the north: Mt Rainier, Mt St. Helens, or what's left of her. To the east: Mt. Hood. These are on the clear days. On the cloudy days, sometimes you cannot see across the river some five blocks away.

The distance from Wood Village to this Portland restaurant is sizable. One hour on the #12 bus. It's also one hour if you take the #12 bus to Gresham and then take the light rail in.

The Smiths played in the headphones. I read books: Willa Cather, Haruki Murakami, Graham Greene. I ignored the freaky meth addicts on the outskirts of town. I shrugged off the potheads closer into the city center. All the others I knew as potential adversaries, it didn't matter. It didn't matter because I had a job, and a good job at that. There was nowhere to go but up.

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