Sometimes you write philosophical blog posts. And sometimes you eat sprinkle cookies and drink Red Stripe. Happy Friday, people.
Remember my rant from last week about awesome and intelligent women, and the side note about how one of the women I get to hang out with owns a vineyard? Well, the place my friend owns is a family winery in north Georgia called Yonah Mountain Vineyards, and the very nice people there asked me if I might do a post or two on their blog. Now before you get all huffy, know that they are not buying my love: Even if they could afford my love, it would be hard for them to get a hold of the necessary Star Wars figures to barter with my husband for it anyway. I wrote for them cause I think they are cool, and I think their wine is great, and I like them. If you hung out with them, you would like them, too.
So forgive the extra clicks, but feel free to go check out my guest posting on their blog, or poke around their website and read more about their wine and winery. If you decide to go visit, take the cave tour and be sure to ask for Bob or Eric as your guide. I can tell you from personal experience that in addition to knowing a lot about wine, Eric does a mean Borat if he's wearing the right suit, and Bob will blow your mind if you ask him to play the accordion.
I am very fortunate in my life to be surrounded by smart, interesting, and hilarious women. I am even more fortunate because I often get to eat with them. That’s a very particular privilege, as most women know, and when it’s done well, a good, solid girls night dinner is a tonic for your soul. Take my book club. Oh, stop – I feel your collective eye roll. “How stereotypical, you’re in book club and all you do is hang out and drink wine and eat extra dessert and talk about your husbands instead of the book.” Damn right, that’s what we do. When we get together, we do in fact drink wine (often excellent wine from a vineyard founded and run by one of our members), have second helpings, and linger over the dinner table to discuss our love life and our day. It should be no surprise, however, that we also discuss books, politics, culture, business, and religion. That’s what happens when you get a table of interesting women together. The dessert course at my book club is the modern equivalent of the Viennese coffee house. Ideas flow, great notions are put forward, and lists of cultural consumables are made. Whatever we are eating, whatever is on our minds, and whatever is happening in the world come together with a lovely sort of conviviality that means there is always something to talk about – and more often than not the conversation veers into high-level socio-political places we didn’t anticipate. Our dinners, though, are simply a modern day version of what eons of women have done before us. We are sharing the food and conversations that help make the world go ‘round. In the past we might have been roasting a goat, or snapping peas, or discussing who in the village has cholera, but our gatherings served the same sociological purpose: we are keeping each other sane, helping each other navigate life, and giving each other the gut checks that help to ward off the strife that could ruin us. We are also eating good food and feeding our souls so we can go fill the bellies and souls of the people around us. And that is extremely important.
Tonight, I had dinner with two great friends of mine. We shared a few drinks and a plate of perfectly fried okra and talked, and it was the most therapeutic and earth-shattering thing any of us could possibly do on a Thursday. Sure, we drank an extra bourbon and ranted about trashy books and our spouses (all good things, all good things, especially the bourbon), but we also discussed Toni Morrison’s Beloved, the meaning and motivations behind certain Jewish religious and cultural traditions, and effective corporate structure. We made critical declarations and shared personal revelations over sorghum-soaked date cake with buttermilk ice cream and a slice of house-made strawberry pie. From across the room, it would have been easy to peg us as the silly, giggling table of gals having a night out without the kids. That’s exactly what we were doing. But we were also saving the world. That’s the power of a shared meal, and more importantly, the power of a shared meal between interesting women. Give us four spoons and one plate of dessert, and we’ll give you the foundations of society. Even better, send us over an extra piece of strawberry pie. We will have this cold fusion thing licked in no time.
I love my husband. Very much. And I prove it every week by going to the deli counter.
To paraphrase Molly Ringwald in “16 Candles,” I loathe the deli counter. It’s not so much that I don’t get good service or that I hate lunch meat. It’s that the deli counter is a giant potential pain in the ass in a long line of grocery store pain-in-the-asses, and since it is the first thing you generally come to, it has the power to make or break the rest of the trip. Is there a line? Is the lady in front of me doing a world tour of cheese samples? Will the person behind the counter have to go to the space-time continuum refrigerator in the back to access whatever dimension has the sale items? I am typically a kind, flexible, and even-tempered human, but there is something about the stupid deli counter that makes me want to tinkle in the display of potato salad. This makes life interesting, because my husband, who has very particular tastes about certain things in this world, happens to have strong opinions about lunch meat. Sometimes he needs me to go buy this lunch meat at the deli counter. And we all know how I feel about the deli counter.
Now, I adore my husband, but he is the original creature of habit. He takes his lunch to work pretty much every day and he prefers to eat the same thing pretty much every day, and if he was running the world, his meat would be sliced pretty much the same way every day. When he goes to the deli, he takes pride in making sure his order is done to his exacting standards. I believe there is comfort to him in the familiarity of a consistent sandwich, or at least a sort of relief in the fact that in a swirling vortex of day, he knows he can have his thing – his one thing – that’s exactly how he wants it, even if it’s just lunchmeat. I appreciate that, I truly do, but I do not share his philosophy. I would never think to eat the same thing for lunch for a week, let alone two days in a row. Not when there’s a whole word of amazing lunch possibilities out there. I mean you could have soup, a cheeseburger, a soufflé, a barbecue ribs … lunch is like early dinner, and just think of all the things you could have for dinner. I love an inconsistent lunch. Which is, of course, exactly why I married my husband. He needs a bit of Maria to balance out his Captain Von Trapp, and I need some of the good Captain to keep me from repeatedly turning the curtains into jaunty, matching play clothes. I would never, of my own accord, go to the damn deli counter for the joy of consistency, but it makes my husband exceedingly happy. I love him, so making him happy is fun.
That’s why, most weeks, I go to the deli counter with two wiggly and or cranky children at an inconvenient time, when I have many, many other groceries to buy and places to go, and I patiently wait my turn. I smile at the lady as she goes into the vortex in the back to get the items on sale, and I do not pee in the potato salad. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is a many splendored thing. And in my house, love is also a half a pound of Boar’s Head low sodium turkey breast – not the “catering” one with the brown skin, the other one – sliced on setting number 5, and seven slices of Boar’s Head yellow American cheese sliced on setting 6 (slightly thicker than the turkey) with papers in between them.
Hi. I'm Amanda Dobbs.