Then Nate came into the dining room, hiding something behind his back. It was a gift for me, a tribute to my writing he explained.
Unfortunately, my brother’s speech was interrupted by the pizza delivery guy, so Natalie took the gift, tucking it into her cardigan until Nate returned. Resuming, he mentioned how a post I wrote a couple years ago made him and Natalie laugh out loud, and then he placed a bottle of Dom Pérignon, Vintage 2004 in my hands. I was stunned.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would actually get the chance to drink the Champagne of Champagnes, certainly not before the kids graduated college. As promised, my husband and I relished it while toasting our 14th wedding anniversary this month. We even bought our first Champagne flutes to go with it, for such a bubbly demanded the proper stemware. A gal who gets balloon head after half a glass of wine, I can now say that I know what a really expensive hangover feels like. It was so worth it.
As for that humble post that earned me a bottle of Dom Pérignon from my extraordinarily generous brother and his lovely wife? This is it:
I am not a connoisseur of alcohol. As a young woman I did not sip brightly hued mixed drinks with my cool, fashion-conscious girlfriends. (Once I did sneak some of my dad’s scotch to mix with orange soda in order to cure a cold. The only thing it cured me of was drinking scotch and orange soda ever again. It was something like putting cotton candy in your martini, I imagine.)
I thought I knew something about wine, but I proved my ignorance in a servers’ meeting post-hours at a nice cafe where I worked. The owners were trying to teach us about red and white wines. When the question-and-answer session broke out, I spoke up and said, “Whites are all sweet and reds are dry.” My boss made an example of me, the poster child of blatant alcohol ignorance.
I was even more clueless about other liquor. Nine months pregnant with my first child and balancing a menu on my belly, I sat in a steak house with my Man and spied a tea I wanted to try.
“I’ll take a Long Island iced tea,” I confidently told our waiter.
The waiter stared, pen suspended, and my husband almost startled me into labor.
“Whoooaa! She doesn’t know what she’s saying,” he assured the wary server. “Just regular sweetened tea for her.”
Then he leaned over and whispered, “Honey, that has alcohol.”
“Oh,” I said. “I just thought it was like Texas tea.”
“That has alcohol, too…LOTS of alcohol.”
“Oh. Glad I didn’t order that then.”
Many years later I would discover per a friend’s suggestion that I liked a Zebra or Preacher’s collar. So when I found myself in an Olive Garden with several friends, and there was a long wait that prompted someone to suggest we get something at the bar, I knew just what I wanted.
I sauntered up to counter, leaned in and with a smile told the young man there that I’d take a Zebra.
The clever guy knew just what I meant, but he held up a bottle of wine and said, “Ma’am, we only serve wine here. We’re an Italian restaurant.”
My friends broke out in merry laughter, and I’m good for that. But I really could have gone for that beer.
The one I will never live down, though, the one that will haunt me every December 31, happened only a few years ago.
I love Champagne. Love, love, love, love, love. I don’t need to know much about it, because my love is unconditional. Still, I did read a column in the paper that listed several great sparkling wines to enjoy for New Year’s Eve, so when my husband casually asked me what kind I wanted him to pick up for the big celebration, I spoke up excitedly, “I’ve heard Dom Pérignon is good!”
“Dom Pérignon? That’s a hundred-something bucks!”
My husband burst out laughing.
“You could get me some, you know,” I retorted. “Maybe it’s worth it.”
“No I couldn’t. Dom Pérignon!” And then he laughed some more.
Now every time there’s a special occasion, and my Man has to make a sparkling wine run, he smiles and teases in a high, snobby voice, “Do you want me to pick you up some Dom Pérignon?”
Yeah, alright, alright. Put a cork in it. Because one of these days, one of these Valentine’s days, I’m going to swing by the drugstore…or the French Embassy…on my way home. Then when my Man walks in the door, I’ll be sitting in a sweet little red dress with a nice little bottle of wine. I’ll extend a glass to him and say smoothly:
“Care for some Dom Pérignon, Darling?”
Like Marilyn Monroe, I might even bathe in it — or at least wash my hair in it — because life should be sweet…or dry…and expensive, even for a dork like me.
— Hillary Ibarra
Hillary Ibarra has had several humor pieces published on Aiming Low and humorwriters.org. She is a mother of four who dreams of playing the banjo, living in Jane Austen’s childhood home and writing for more than spam artists and 50 loyal readers. She is the mysterious blogger at No Pens, Pencils, Knives or Scissors. In her spare time she likes to threaten to sell her children to the zoo, and their little dog, too.