Face-off October 27, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
By the time the Russian and I have wolfed down dinner in (verbal) silence in about fourteen seconds flat, having toiled lovingly over the preparation for considerably longer, the bottle is still usually half-full, even if the glass is half-empty. This inevitably invites a moral dilemma of critical proportions.
The only way to achieve a moral victory is, of course, to put that glass cone – the cleanest and most unused item of kitchenware in the house – in the neck and put the wine-bottle away in some dark corner where it can supposedly be forgotten about until the next wine-drinking occasion raises its predictable head the following evening.
Yet even moral fortitude and rectitude have their downsides. Chiefly that they are the enemy of hedonism and doing what you’d really like and while I’m not desperate for life to be one long string of gleeful moments, I do worry that these positives, if they can be so called, might be even loosely tied up with guilt and before you know it people will be saying or you’ll be thinking, “Once a Catholic…” which makes me want to go and impale myself on a spire somewhere, or, at the very least, speed-convert to the Church of England.
And closing the bottle with the pristine cone has the added disadvantage, or, at least, mitigated benefit, of putting me in the Russian’s good books. “Molodets,” he’ll say as I trudge hunchbacked to the cupboard under the sink where undrunk wine keeps the cleaning products company. “Umnitsa,” he’ll continue as I return to my seat and sip languidly on gone-flat mineral water in a mood redolent of the day after your birthday. Because being in the Russian’s good books and creating a fraudulent image of sobriety and temperance is as morally wicked as lying. Unless I was willing to change my ways, which I sometimes pretend I am, but am probably basically not, it would be awfully naughty to create such a false impression. And so early in our courtship! I haven’t even met my father-in-law yet.
One unlikely permutation, which occurs about as irregularly as the Earth changing direction, is that I will experience a rush of primness and suggest the bottle be coned just when the Russian’s looking like he’d fancy quite a lot more booze. I am magnanimous and say the decision is his but may have to tut (and remind him of his above-recommended-guidelines consumption) with sneering frequency.
But far more likely is a face-off between me and the bottle. Dinner is over. If I’m trying to be French, the national barometer I think best aligned with good living – ignoring the statistics for liver cancer – then I should, by rights, push my glass away from me and do something proper like meet my mistress or smoke and have an intellectual conversation at the same time, preferably with raised voices and aspersions cast on the interlocutor’s sanity. But I am not French. And the wine bottle is a foreign body my cultural immune system tries to attack. “What do you want to drink more of me for?” it whispers waspishly, circumflexes and castles leaping like sprites off the label and dragging my heavy fingers back from where they came.
Eyes right to see how I’m doing with the Russian. Is he in a wine-coning mood? Or one of those festive ones where we may drink on as long as we can find some excuse for it? “It’ll spoil by tomorrow.” “It’ll help us relax.” “We’re alcoholics.”
But the most crushing defeat is if my beloved benevolently waves his approval at my drinking on but fails to join me. He will return to online-shopping and academia and I will be left with two more cauldron-sized glasses of occasionless wine to drink. Each delicious drop tinged with reproof and condemnation. The Russian might find me in my one-man snug and ask advice on some linguistic matter. I will try to make my eyes look perky or not to slur my words or hide my red-wine lips but in an attempt to appear beyond reproach I will knock over a cactus or tip over the glass. “Uh-huh,” he’ll conclude soberly and turn on his heels, mission truncated.
Still, the nights are drawing in – it’s now dark at 2pm – and we don’t want to be too perfect, do we? What’s the world come to if a man can’t sip away the winter blues in the comfort of his own home! I say almost non-stop wine-drinking is a seasonal and traditional rite till the onset of spring.
To your good health!