Last year, a dinner guest brought me a bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. I hope it was not the gentleman with whom I have severed diplomatic relations due to his irrepressible anti-Israel bias. My friend Margaret’s husband, John, is the prime suspect. He is an oenophile, a generous gift giver, a man of impeccable manners and taste. Though I cannot say that I detect notes of green apple, in the white Burgundy John shared with me me more than once, I am prepared to swear that if it is part of his stash, it is bound to be very good indeed. But John comes from a French family and he has a penchant for French vintages. Could he finally have understood that Italians are far more creative, far more elegant, far better wine makers than the French? Jamais de la vie.
Could the wine bringers have been the cosmopolitan Ukrainian couple? Their gift was probably a filigreed silver box of preserved lark’s tongues, an alabaster jar of doormice in honey or little Cavaillon melons planted by the light of a Provencal moon. They are that sort of people. The unexpected guests brought nothing. They confined their talk to professional glories and their astonishment at how low was the cost of a local building–a mere million dollars! They talked of “good people, good Christian people, presumably to differentiate them those who are not good since they are not Christians. Three of us were Jews and two were descendants of Jews and we were not amused. When the talk turned to Israel bashing I I did is something regrettable, something known in mountain folk parlance as “throwing hissy fit.” I admit that a gracious host does not throw hissy fits. I am deeply aware of having failed to advance the cause of peace, but just wait one cotton picking minute here–too much c’est too much. I am way past sophistry, way past this “Islam is a religion of peace thing.” Let us have peace, by all means. Let us be ecumenical and understanding, but let us also remember that the religion of the Taliban, the Egyptian brotherhood and the Dogmush tribe’s is not a religion of peace any more than Meir Kahane’s was. So there are war mongers in Israel who would was bomb hell out of Iran just because it is there. Fairness demands that we remember that the fallacious argument according to which every Muslim is a victim of Israeli oppression is nothing more than utter poppycock. The catalog of grievances on all sides is long and it is not appropriate for the dinner table. If returns to my table, I may have to quote my Ukrainian friend,
“Everyone has all been genocided. Let’s move it on.” That should stimulate civil discourse.
My life, dinner parties aside is not all that eventful. Shall I tell you that I have mountains of unironed bed and table linens, woe, woe ist mir? No starches and iron bed linens anymore? It wastes electricity and spray starch helps create hole in the ozone layer, but if you are a well brought up Braziian of a certain age, why, you must have starched linens, preferrably handwoven and French. Geography is destiny.
Shall I write of the Great Dane’s traumatic visit to the vet, the upcoming car inspection–note to self, get new windshield wipers– the bills from the dentist and the ophthalmologist, the villainy of the horde of deer who persist in eating the tops of my sunflowers? I could, but as someone who spent years writing a lifestyle column that kept legions of young editors in clover, I think I’ll pass. It isn’t that I have not had good role models. Once I worked with a columnist rumored to have been nominated for a Pulitzer in her previous capacity as reporter at The Humongous Newspaper in The Capital City. In our much maligned provincial newspaper she wrote, among other things, a memorial piece in which she mentioned her dead mother’s black lace underwear. Another rime, she wrote in detail about her husband’s need for Beano. Yet another columnist wrote about her dog throwing up. Rabelais they were not, but hey, one of them was Pulitzer nominee, what? “Et moi, et moi, et moi...” as Jacques Brel used to say, moi did not dream of syndication. I may have edited some experiences, but I did not–with a view ri demofraphics, target audience and such–write about kids long grown and gone as if they were still toddling and tugging at my apron string. No, I never got nominated for a Pulitzer. I type like a vache espagnole, I can’t punctuate in English to save my life, and I digress like mad. But listen to this, once a man brought me rose petal jam after reading something I wrote about love. Maybe it was he who brought the Montepulciano. My Kobi, my general, light of my eyes, was that you?
UPCOMING EFFUSION–THE ROMANCE OF VINTAGE HANDKERCHIEFS INCLUDING PAN ULIANG’S CONTRIBUTION TO FRENCH TEXTILES.