Memoirs of Terrance Jamison, IV – In Search of Wife Two
wine fiction by Roger Beery
It did not turn out the way I wanted, not even close; my first marriage that is. I was young, 32, and successful, from a legal business perspective, not from a marriage perspective, at least not then. I said it was my first marriage because saying first marriage implies there would be a second and hopefully last marriage. I did not want to live forever a single man, though I can from time to time see the benefits. How does one choose a wife or at least find a solid candidate? This is the story of my plan to find a suitable prospect for my Wife Two.
I went the traditional route the first time and obviously, since I embarked on a search for Wife Two, it didn’t work. I met Wife One in high school and we dated throughout our collegiate years. Ours was a long courtship and we knew each other well, or so I thought. She was quiet, an intellectual (like myself), a reader and a homebody who refused to join me in my love of fine wine. “No, I don’t like to drink,” she would say and though I could not fathom the reason, I respected her decision. Among my peers, both legal and social, I am considered a good judge of character. My character judgment is even sought out by some; though, after you read the story, you may wonder why. Possibly my judgment was sharpened by Wife One, the wine abstainer.
My parents were not wealthy at the time they married though my extended family was. My father, for reasons still unknown to me, was shun by his family in South Africa where they successfully operated a large winery for three generations. Upon settling in Austin, Texas, my father met my mother. He began his career as a wine representative because wine was all he knew. The distributors, of course, wanted him to promote South African wines, many of which are underrated and have not reached the popularity of their Australian cousins. My father however, had no interest in wines from the family and the homeland that shunned him. “America is the country that took me in and I will only sell American wines,” I head him yell over the phone to his former employer. My father worked very hard to became the representative for a few unknown and unheralded vintners. Within a few years the unheralded vintners began to win awards and my father gained a reputation as a guy “who could pick ‘em.” As a teenager we spent many summer vacations in California and later Oregon so my father could find the unknown vintners who would soon become well known. He, too became well known for his talent, so as you can see fine American wine is very much a part of who I am. I also inherited his ability to “pick’em” though not so much with winemakers and certainly not with Wife One.
Wife One, the reader and homebody, became increasingly difficult to reach during my business travels. Often she would not be available or not answer her phone until late in the evening. “They don’t allow cell phones in the library.” She would say. Based on reports of one of my few professional peers who had met Wife One, she had been spending her time in the reading section of Randy’s Rodeo Dance Hall and Saloon. There was a good chance that I would never find her there since country music makes me twitch and the wine selection is no selection at all. During my absences the homebody had become a beer guzzling cowgirl complete with private bull riding lessons. It seems she rode the bull with great regularity and reckless abandon. That is why I am now on a mission to find Wife Two.
In order to find high quality candidates for the position of Wife Two, I immediately rejected my match-making friends. Actually, I have no match-making friends but many of my friends seem to have married amateur match-makers. Computer dating seemed like a possibility but there were too many questions about unimportant things. The same things I knew about Wife One but did not protect our marriage from her randy wrangler. Wine, there were no substantive questions of wine. No, computer dating was not an option. Speed dating at a wine tasting reeked of possibility. Lots of women and wine worthy of tasting appeared to have it all. But no, upon entrance I reversed myself once I saw that Beringer White Zinfandel was the host.
There was one option I did consider, a calculated variation on an old theme, meeting women at a bar. Not any bar but a wine bar, one of distinction. There maybe Wife Two lurked amongst the patrons. But how would I know which of the glamorous potential vinophiles might be right for me? What if the right woman, on the night of plan execution, had chosen a sophisticated martini and thus, I did not see her true potential? What if a prospect knew nothing of fine wine but was quaffing an interesting stem provided by one of my wine compatriots? It was complicated. I needed a plan. A plan that was simple yet straightforward. One that would expose the novice yet not insult the experienced. I had the plan, the perfect plan.
I executed my plan with varying degrees of success over the next few months. My friends were intrigued by its level of sophistication but were dubious that it would produce the result I had anticipated. But, if anything, I had confidence that ultimately the plan would work. I just needed time and the proper prospect. Without fail, when the plan did produce a prospect, I at least enjoyed the conversation and met someone worthy of my time. The only negative result of the plan was that I developed a reputation of something of a “wine snob.” An unfair characterization circulated by a blonde amazon of a woman and her friends. I shall not bore you with the details of near misses and go straight to the night I met the perfect woman, my Wife Two.
Thursday night at the Tessoro was always humming with eclectic energy. Could she be there waiting for me; the perfect candidate for the title of Wife Two? I sauntered up to the bar at 6:47 and took one of the few remaining seats. Charlie, the bartender and long time acquaintance said, “I have something I’d like you to taste.” Convention held that I had little choice but to accept the offer.
“Of course, Charlie what did you have in mind?” I responded
“A new zinfandel from north of Healdsburg…you’ll love this one.” Charlie said, knowing my affinity for the zinfandel grape.
I sat attentively squinting through my trendy thin reading glasses at the label. As Charlie uncorked the bottle, a comely, tall and elegantly attired woman a few years younger than I came to my side. She gave Charlie an unobtrusive wave and I thought she might be just the woman to test my plan. As Charlie approached her, it was apparent they recognized each other.
“Hi there,” She said. “I think I’d like a vodka martini tonight, but don’t make mine too strong.”
My jaw dropped, figuratively of course. “Not too strong”, I thought. How do you make a drink consisting of nothing but liquor, “not too strong”? Such a waste, such loveliness with no sophistication or at least not the level I require. The zinfandel was, as Charlie alluded, wonderful. The stem held a dark deep red liquid that would suit my plan perfectly.
I rose to greet the people I knew in attendance and to begin my search. Before long I was introduced to a blonde young lady with a quick wit and an engaging smile, two things I admire. Upon learning that she too despised country music, I offered her a glass of wine. “How does a zinfandel sound?” I inquired.
“Great” she said “I love zinfandel.”
Excitedly, I joined Charlie at the bar and returned with two stems of the zin. I offered her the one in my right hand and she gazed upon me in confusion.
“I thought you were bringing me a zinfandel?” she asked
“I did, I think you’ll find it lovely.”
Looking quite confused she exclaimed “But it’s red, I drink white zinfandel.”
Though I was disappointed by her response, my plan had once again worked perfectly. No, she was not Wife Two material and she had been exposed. No lips that fancy white zinfandel shall ever touch mine…knowingly. The rest of the evening went along much the same way, and I had begrudgingly served four glasses of white zin. So much potential wasted.
As 9 o’clock approached, I spied a pleasing prospect entering Tessoro’s dramatic double door entrance. She appeared to be alone as she sat on the bar stool near where I was discussing this year’s zinfandel offerings with Charlie. Since her ring finger bore no stone, I introduced myself to the lady and offered her a glass of wine. At first she seemed taken aback by my bold offer but after being reassured by Charlie that I was no miscreant she agreed.
“May I offer you a Zinfandel” I asked
“Yes, that would be perfect” she said “the evening is getting a little chilly.”
She had silky black hair and almond shaped eyes. I will admit, I am partial to women with an Asian influence. She had an air of international sophistication to which I was drawn immediately. I tried, I believe successfully, to hide my complete enthusiasm. She was perfect, I thought to myself. But, could she pass the test?”
The moment of truth arrived as I handed her the glass. She took it from me and studied the contents “Please don’t say it should be pink,” I thought. The wine passed across her ample lips. She savored it for a moment longer that I had expected. She looked up at me standing next to her and said “I love the spice and the jammy blackberry flavor; it must be from Sonoma, maybe north, near Dry Creek?”
Carnival bells clanged in my head as the barker yelled “Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!!!!!”
“How do you feel about country music?” I asked.
You know her answer.
(C) 2010 Roger L. Beery II