Zhadi's Den

Random essays on wine, writing, moving to San Francisco, surfing, cats (exotic and otherwise) and zombies...depending on my mood.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

My cat's name is Mittens!

I was all set to write a blog about life being short, chocolate croissants versus low fat muffins, not wasting time worrying about cellulite, etc, but it all seems kind of trivial when compared to what's happening down South. Maybe if I could give each and every one of those people in the Superdome a cup of coffee and a croissant I'd feel better about it. No, make that adequate water, food, blankets, and a place to sleep that's not knee deep in water.

I find it very hard to express the mixture of thoughts and emotions inside my head sometimes. I try, but when I try to write it down, I feel like I'm Ralph Wiggums from The Simpsons, in a room full of philosophy students (all working on their master's thesis, of course), who're talking about the meaning of life, and all I have to offer is "My cat's name is Mittens!"

Right now I'm just very aware that life really can be cut short at a moment's notice and it's possible to lose everything overnight. Hell, in five minutes or less. So why do I worry so much about whether my thighs and butt will expand if I eat a chocolate croissant now and again? Why wait for a special occasion or create arbitrary rules to moderate my treat intake (if I walk 20 miles this week I can have a croissant next Friday, IF my jeans aren't tight the day before), when I'm perfectly capable of moderating it with every day common sense? It's not like I'd even want to eat pastry every morning. So why should I put myself through the wringer of whether or not I deserve it when I DO want it?

Maureen, my best friend since high school, has never worried about what she ate or her weight. She's been skinny, she's been curvaceous, but always content. She eats what she wants, gets plenty of exercise in the course of her job as an nanny (walking and pushing strollers up and down the hills of La Jolla), and at 44, is in better shape than most 20 year olds. Mo uses common sense, but it's the lack of stress over it all that's the real trick. I want to be like Mo. At least as far as her attitude towards food and figure goes. I don't think I'd make a very good nanny; a crying animal gets my maternal instinct going, whereas a crying baby sends me running in the other direction.

I've always been a big one for trying to live every day to the fullest, but it's easy to forget that in the midst of daily dramas, doldrums, and life maintenance. I have, however, always lived by the idea that you can't always wait for the ideal special occasion to open that special bottle of wine you've been saving. Personal experience has taught me that you can wait forever if you have unrealistic expectations about what that special occasion should be.

About 15 years ago, Brian got a bottle of '83 Dom Perignon when he was producing a film. It was one of two bottles given to him for product placement. One bottle was opened first day of filming; our friend, Phil, was directing. The second bottle was supposed to be drunk first day of the next film for the same company. Phil was slated to produce, and Brian direct this time. The second film never happened. The Dom went into a dark corner of the bedroom closet.

Over the years, as I learned more about the shelf life and storage of wine, I urged Brian to open the Dom. He always said he would when the right occasion presented itself. I asked what would constitute this magical event and he'd always drop mysterious hints, but never give me an answer. I'm not sure if he really had something specific in mind or was just waiting for a burning bush to tell him that THIS was the time. I thought about lighting one of the rose bushes on fire and rigging a tape recorder.

On a visit to Sanford Winery (of "Sideways" fame), we started chatting with the owner, Chris, who was manning the tasting room that day. I told Chris about the bottle of '83 Dom stashed away in the bedroom closet and asked how long it would keep. His advice was to drink it immediately - it may or may not still be good. Brian said he wanted to save it for a special occasion. Chris said that maybe by opening the bottle, we'd create a special occasion. There's a similar line in "Sideways" - Maya (Virginia Madsen) tells Miles (Paul Giamatti) that the day he opens a certain bottle of wine will be the special occasion. I wonder if the writer got the idea from Chris Sanford.

I urged Brian to open the bottle, to find some event that would be worth it, or, better yet, to open it and perhaps persuade the fates to reward us with something to celebrate after the fact. He'd just tell me I wanted to drink the champagne. Well, sure I did! What champagne lover wouldn't want to try a bottle of what was now considered a top vintage year of Dom Perignon? And what oeniphile would want to risk it reaching its peak and then going downhill into something undrinkable? But I also wanted to know that something in the course of life with me would be considered special enough to warrant putting that bottle on ice.

Years passed, anniversaries came and went. We nearly divorced, got back together. More anniversaries. Stories published, screenplays optioned. One of our cats returning home after being MIA for four hellish days around Halloween. But nothing ever warranted popping the cork on that bottle of Dom.

That bottle of Dom, to my knowledge, is still lying on its side, unopened, in the bedroom closet of our house in Glendale. It drives me crazy, thinking about the possibility that it's turned into the champagne equivalent of vinegar, a top vintage year bottle wasted for lack of the right occasion. And it makes me very sad to feel that nothing that happened in our life together deserved that champagne.

Life really is short. There may never be the perfect special occasion to celebrate with a bottle of vintage champagne. So by all means, enjoy what you have while you've got the chance, before it goes bad or you lose it.

Nothing is ever squandered if you enjoy it.


  • At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Jen C. said…

    That was excellent, and so true!

  • At 1:56 PM, Blogger FreeThinker said…

    Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

    - John Lennon


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