Guest commentary by Beatrice Russo
What is it about old people? IWG comes up to me other day and says, “Uh, you know you haven’t sent in a blog posting since middle of August?” Uh, gee, I didn’t know it was my job. Hey, Unc, nobody cares about your blog. Got it? And he comes right back, “Uh, so I guess you didn’t have a good time in France?” Oh so, that’s the game you be playin?
So he’s all laid out before the TV waiting for Ken Burns to tell him how The War ended. And he’s been that way every night. Never knew he was such a history buff.
And then during a break he says he’s thinking of moving to Chicago. What? Says there’s some action up there with something going on, money, position; other side of the hill it sounds like to me. He is one tripped out dude, and I can’t believe he lets me post this.
So, France was cool. I had just watched Antonioni’s L’Avventura, so it all influenced me a bunch. Monica Vitti, what an actor. She nailed that certain period in one’s life when there just needs to be a direction and all there seems to be is one endless drama after another. I can relate to it, but not right now. Life is good.
Drew (Ziff) and his new restaurant, going well. He has me cataloguing new wines coming in. Getting ready for the opening. And he has brought on board Brandan, who reminds me of IWG’s son, Rafa. Brandan came from a very cool place, York Street, I even thought of wanting to work there once. But no way am I jumping, now that I have a steady job that I like.
IWG dragged me around one day in France. We left real early and headed down to a place in the south of France, Grasse. He’s all Jumanji about aromas lately. He has this 24 page book he has made with smells and their scientific formula names. He goes around saying things like, warm essence of musk and bergamot, things like that. Kinda creepy, but then when we taste a wine and one of the descriptions matches the nose, I’m like, wow, this is cool. So, I forgive him.
Anyway we drove so long it seemed we were almost going to Italy (I wish). But we get to this town and he goes to some building that has this real scientific look to it. Find out it’s a perfume school and he is there to visit an old friend who teaches there. They make scents for all kinds of things, perfumes, nail polish, soaps, everything it seems, except wine. What? The friend says they even make vegetable based scents to “enhance” the aroma and flavor of wine. No way. Those French folks, they are a crafty lot.
A nice lunch and a pale rosé from the area, the two of them go off into a lab afterwards and I excuse myself to go walking the town. The place does have an unusual scent to it, like a closet I once walked into, a friend’s grandmother who asked me to put a hat box on the top shelf. Just like her closet, all kinds of musty, musky, dusty, flowery, totally overwhelming scene.
It got me to thinking about my mother and dad and my twin and for a moment in the sun, in the south of France, I allowed myself a moment of regret and pity. But I say to myself, I am well, I have work, people like me. I am young; I have my whole life before me. This will pass. And it does.
Later that night after we get back to the chateau there is a bottle or two of unusual liqueurs. IWG goes for the absinthe, but I spy some flowery looking bottle that looks old. It says Grand Marnier Cuvée du Cent-Cinquantenaire, so I take a pull of it into a snifter. By this time everyone at the table is getting plowed with XO Cognac or some other kind of liqueur, but it’s just a short climb up the stairs to bed. No big deal. So I step outside to listen to the owls and the frogs and stick my nose in the snifter. The whole south of France was inside. It was like being on a ledge overlooking the ocean and all of a sudden fear was so intense that my senses were elevated to a higher degree of receptivity. That’s what I must do with this sommelier business.
Nothing above me, nothing below me, so I leap off.
Something I read in one of IWG’s old hippy paperbacks.