G’day, friend. It’s your man Seven, coming to you from deep in the Bangkok red-light district. It’s Frowback Friday, which for me means posting to the interweb a long-lost drunken soliloquy that was previously published on a now defunct online platform from the early 2000s. It paints a vivid picture of just how bleak the dating world is in The West, and how lonesome, introspective, self-pitying, and sad an average Joe like myself can become in such an environment, setting in greater contrast that blessed, blissful existence of that same man in Thailand, where there’s so much beauty in all directions, it veritably withers on the vine. Speaking of vines, I polished off a bottle of red while composing the following…
“Monday, April 18, 2005 Current mood: quixotic
bittersweet fermented symphony
This Cabernet, this one in my other hand, is from a tiny, now non-existent winery in the Central Coast called Di Carlo. They closed a few years ago and stopped selling wine, though I’ve no idea why, because they were outstanding. The one I’m imbibing of now is a 1999 vintage that I’d been saving for the most ridiculous reason. Well, it was partially of course because the winery closed and I was holding it, since to drink it would mean there would then be no more of it ever, within my grasp, and therefore the experience of it would be rare and thus should be shared with someone special, which is why I was saving it. But of course, there has not been anyone worth sharing it with in my life for years, and there’s no sign of anyone on the horizon, so I said what the hell. But that’s not the real reason why saving it was such a ridiculous notion. It was ridiculous, says I, if you must know, because the first and last time I visited this winery I was with my old flame, who is now engaged to someone else, which is as it should be and I’m not upset about that. But I was actually saving this wine because somewhere in my warped imagination I thought I couldn’t drink it without her. Even though we will never see each other again, I held on and held on to this bottle like an idiot, refusing to even consider drinking it alone, let alone with someone other than said ex-defunct ex-girlfriend.
But I bit the bullet and opened it yesterday, and thought at first that it would be a bust. It was musty, overly-alcoholic in flavor, and too harsh on the back of the palate. But today, now that it’s had time to breathe, it is EXQUISITE. The nose is dark chocolate, currants, some licorice, and the taste is bursting with jammy fruit and tobacco, and a little cedar, and vanilla. I’m blown away. I’ve half a mind to finish the bottle, call in sick, and spend tomorrow in a coma (I’m not worried about this statement, no one reads these things anyway). But drinking it is bittersweet, not for the flavor mind you, but in the realization that that time in my life, of connection to a person, of shared moments like small, gleaming veins along a dark rock life-wall of blind existence, is over, is being mined by a stranger from some unseen Californian burg, while I, though completely changed by the turn of events, continue on in much the same way, in the same place, with that same wine that I bought with a stranger who was once as close to me as my own twisted psyche, and all I have now is this awe-inspiring taste in my mouth, the light-as-air intoxication of an elixir not unlike love in its temperate finiteness, that was saved, hoarded, locked away, like precious metal, too valued to enjoy, too much like a suspended memory, a preserved moment in time with the subtle promise of a tomorrow. A tomorrow that now will never come because it is today, consumed not in regret and celebrated, though it is a personal one, a private one, a celebration that should have been shared but is now deeply, deeply solitary, like everything else, like my past, like an imagined but fictional future, like solid gold and the echo of a dream dying again and again in darkness. The glass empties, one mouthfeel at a time, the tannins are a tranquilizer, coating the senses, dulling the realization, replacing the need, filling the song, remembering and at the same time forgetting a word, a look, a smile, a kiss, the drive home, the credit card bill, the box of wine clinking as the car takes a curve, the sunset, the smell of the ocean, hair falling over a pillow, the sound of her breathing, the warmth of her back, the empty glasses standing on the nightstand like mute witnesses, like reminders of a future where this is a memory and gone forever, except on the night when the wine is opened and experienced again, in glory, in defeat, in celebration of what might have been, but is not.
This is not a confession, or a lament, because who can mourn for what courses in the veins? Who can weep for what can’t be dug from its place and held up to the light? Wait. . .I must refill the glass. . .this symphony is life, as Mr. Ashcroft so aptly put it. This bittersweet trek over hill and dale and interstate, over time and remembrance and love and loss is living, and sometimes, one may capture a moment, save time in a bottle (thank you Mr. Croce), let it age, and wait and hope, and lock it away to forget about and remember again on a Monday, alone in the Valley, landlocked and lovelorn and lost to the world, and leave it all in a tiny corner of the internet to be ignored and not understood, like everything else, kept free of analysis, criticism, and connection, kept out of harm’s way, like wine in a cellar, in cyber-darkness, unknown and unseen, like this moment, lost in the bottom of a glass.”
In an ironic and bemusing twist, just the other day I ran across a bottle of Italian red in the Siam Paragon Gourmet Market that I used to buy for the girl that is the subject of the above blog. And instead of feeling any nostalgia, regret, whimsy, or sense of missing the lady in question, I was just overjoyed to find what felt like was a long-lost friend, just sitting there unobtrusively on the shelf, waiting to be rediscovered. The hardest part of life in Thailand for a California wine snob is the limited access to good vino. It’s the opposite of life in The West, where wine is everywhere but women are hard to come by. Today I’ll savor this bottle, keeping it all to myself, and hide it from both of the women coming to my apartment tonight. They can share me, but I won’t be sharing my wine.
Swing back by on Sunday for the weekly, and between now and then keep your balls warm, your glass frosty, and cheers to another week above ground in the greatest country in the world—Thailand.