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Triathlete Blog

The 31st of November

By December 1, 2008July 7th, 2015No Comments

November’s installment of off season social healing took place on Saturday night.

Local wine shop, 9 of us, 3 hours, 8 bucks, 9 wines, 10 sheets to the wind.

If you do the math, carry the one and multiply it by wine what you get is the answer to the equation of:


Wine #1 is a Chardonnay. All of us agree that a Chardonnay is nothing to wow about. Too white, too basic, too buttery, too oaky, too commonplace. However, this one tastes fruity, clean and sweet.

What’s that word you wrote over there, MS says to me (note: I promised to use code names to protect the guilty).


Yes, clean. Wine can taste clean just as it can taste like ass. Take my word on this. I taste wine. I don’t drink wine. Drinking is for hobos. Tasting is for snobs.

Self-admitted coffee/bike/wine snob here.

Wine #2 is a Voignier. The clerk pours the wine and tells the table that someone smell goods. It’s me I want to say. And I’m single I want to say. In case you were wondering oh cute young actor major college boy. I’m single until my husband stares in disbelief. How can this dirty little sweat monkey smell good, reads his eyes. The clerk follows it up with, someone here smells like vanilla but this wine smells like celery.

He was right. It did smell like celery with grassy undertones. DS tells us it “smells like troll dolls”. We’re not sure where that came from or what it meant but when it comes to wine tasting everyone is allowed to speak their own vocabulary. The language of trolls included. VV announces that he has just tasted a “man’s white wine” which makes us laugh considering he is a sturdy, roasted Czech who I’ve never seen without a beer.

On to Wine #3. Before it is poured, Chris leans over to tell us that if we listen closely enough we will recognize the point at which DS’s south side accent starts to come out. Almost on cue, we hear it just as the Barbera is being poured. DS asks the clerk where Hanna is to go along with the Barbera (get it?) and there it is – 100 percent Souff Side. About the Barbera, someone says “I like it a lot.” Some are simple while others seem to complicate – “It’s not oaky like a Merlot and has a hint of Shiraz.”

Oh just drink your juice.

At Wine #4, MS stops. Shut down after 3 samples before he calls it a night. His wife comments that it’s a step up from the years ago when he could only handle the sniff of a cork. The rest of us continue on with Sangiovese. Forget the finer intracacies of this Italian wine, the discussion instead turns to the Mars Cheese Castle. If you have ever crossed the Illinois/Wisconsin border then you know about the Mars Cheese Castle. I’ve never been there but the entire table had stories about it. Stories about lots of cheese, a vat of smearable cheddar cheese with crackers by the bar and a collection of Hamm’s beer collectibles. Hamm’s beer? You mean from the land of crystal waters? Naturally this segways into to a discussion about other top quality beers like Schiltz. And a confession that someone at the table was a 3 year old who once liked to drink grandpa’s Old Style.

This person is also from the Souff Side.

Wine #5 and someone starts talking about Rim to Rim. I’m all ears. I am very interested in doing this event. It’s a trek across the Grand Canyon. Then we start talking about hiking. And donkeys. And BS’s most recent trip to climb Kilimanjaro. Which then leads into a discussion about sherpas and what makes a good sherpa. Apparently what makes a good sherpa on Kilimanjaro is the man that carries the poop bucket up the mountain. This leads into a discussion about how our sherpa, Sherpa Thomas, is way underfulfilling his sherpa duties because the only thing he has ever carried is…me. Old Vine Zinfindel finds its way into our glasses. The clerk tells us these grapes have spent over 50 years on the vine. Christie breaks a glass. Someone shouts “oompah!” and DS tells us about this wine – you can’t beat it with a stick!

I think she likes it.

The premium wine is up next, an unexpected #6. I don’t remember asking for it but clearly someone did. In fact, two glasses appear and one is in front of me. It’s a 100 dollar bottle of Cabarnet Sauvignon at 20 bucks a glass. When you’re on glass #5 it sounds like a good deal. Let’s see what it’s got. A collective choir of oohs and aaahs follow after we all take a taste. “Smooth all around with a dry finish.” It’s the closest we have gotten to liquid deep plum burgundy melting in our mouths. It sounds sexy but then again – it is, it’s wine. And after 5 samples already it could taste like wet puppy and we call it smooth all around with a hint of fur and poopy.

Ah, wine.

Wine #7 is Cabernet Blush. An ice wine which sounds a little froo froo but at this point – why not. “It’s like brandy”, JM says. “Or port!” CM shouts. Dear god have these people been drinking with grandma? Who drinks brandy and port!? Honey smell, sweet, strawberries, cold, syrupy in this blush. The kind of wine that could get you into trouble – quick. One, two, three glasses like candy. VV, again the roasty Czech, takes a sip and then says:

You drink this and you end up like my boss, barfing up all over the subway train.

That one was awarded quote of the night.

Wine #8 has arrived. At this point, some faces are looking a little red as the last Cabernet Blush (no names mentioned husband). Other faces are giggling. The eighth wine is cranberry wine and it tastes just like – cranberries. Again, VV refuses, “Vete doesn’t do juice.” Now talking to himself in the third person, I can tell his Czech beer drinking days have served him well. And left him completely sober – obviously. The rest of us agree, this is another trouble wine that would come in handy during in-law holidays.

Wine #9 is a complete surprise. The clerk offers us the Christmas Wine. I know this trick! They did this to us last time and again…I fell for it. It was good. And so was the Glogg. Which has an umlaute over the “o” in case you were wondering. Which naturally leads to a discussion about the Czech alphabet. VV and JV take this as their cue to start talking Czech twinspeak. They are quickly ignored for speaking a secret language so the conversation turns to holidays. I notice some cute snowmen ornaments and decide to buy them. We start talking about my nonholiday nondenominational holiday Christmas snowman tree. DS admits she is going to regift all of the snowmen ornaments on her Christmas tree to me. Which leads to a discussion about the worst gifts we have ever gotten for Christmas. This one takes the cake:

A calendar with 31 days in November

Wine #10 took place at the bar next door. Most of the others called it a night while myself, Chris, CS and CM took it next door for one last glass. Perhaps it was meant to be because there on the menu was my all-time favorite wine:

Alamos Mendoza Malbec

This is why you should all drink wine. It’s deep, full smoky smell that matches it flavor. As if that wasn’t enough – it’s Argentinian.

The evening ended and it was time to go home. Chris declined the last glass of wine while my acceptance put me over the edge. One last stop, though, before sleep. We had dropped off Boss at Chris’ parents house and had to bring him back. At this point, it was 11 pm. Though the entire house would be asleep, it would be nearly impossible to make it in and out of my in-laws house without being stopped by Popo (not the popo, Popo the grandmother). Why? Because her bedroom is right off of the garage door. All traffic that flows in and out of that house pretty much passes through the Popo Tollbooth.

We approach the house and get into full Extract Boss from The Enemy mode. I get on my wool cap and wait for my directions. Chris said he would pull into the driveway, open the garage door and I was to make a run for it. I hadn’t run in a few weeks but I was sure I still had some top end speed. The car stops, door goes up and I bolt. I open the garage door, throw on the lights in the laundry room when from out of the Tollbooth I hear…

Bet? (the code name of my mother-in-law)

It rang out from the bedroom in a tone of voice that told me I had less than 30 seconds to locate my dog, grab it and run for the door or else get captured by the enemy. I’m in, but now where? 3 small dogs, where are they? Over there, there it is, a crate. Ran over, realized the puppy looking out at me was Boss. Quickly I unlocked the crate, grabbed him and ran back towards the laundry room when I heard it again…


I have 3 seconds to get out of this house before my cover is blown, I get cornered and asked why I wasn’t at the baby shower, why I was running around in dark house with a wool cap at 11 pm, why I smell like a …

drunken hobo that took a vanilla bath

I run out of the door, Boss under my armpit, pointing to Chris while shouting CLOSE THE DOOR! CLOSE THE DOOR! Next thing I throw myself into the car, toss Boss in the back seat and peel away.

THAT was close.

Boss looks more than a little scared. A few minutes ago he was sleeping in a crate then he was extracted by a crazy woman in a wool hat running at threshold pace. The three of us make it back home laughing uncontrollably while I replay the sound of voice calling out…


The next round of social healing will take place in December. It’s the best night that 8 bucks can buy. More like $28 if you buy a glass of the premium wine. $39 if you head next door for a glass of Malbec. $51 if you also decide to purchase 3 snowmen ornaments and the risk of getting even more regifted to you because you let everyone know (tactfully) that you only like snowmen.

Crafty, a little tipsy, who knows. But it sure beats getting a November calendar with 31 days. Which is today’s date, right?