These are the kinds of things one might overhear when passing through our store… for better or for worse:
Freddie (our jolly, emphysematic Puerto Rican colleague) to Lindsay: “I’m pretty sure you’re going to have a big baby. Like, a 9-pounder.”
Freddie: “The way you eat, you’re going to have a big baby. Watch out for those shoulders.”
Lindsay: “Who’s side are you on?? Definitely not my vagina’s!”
I love to brag to people that I am “smart, pretty AND funny.” It turns out I am actually just pretty and funny.
In case you didn’t know, this is where Switzerland is:
Just so everyone is clear, here’s where it isn’t:
I present this little Geography lesson, because it was one I needed recently.
It’s funny how, when you talk about wine, or your cousin abroad, or a major geo-political issue, you think you have a perfectly clear idea of the exact whereabouts of the country you’re referring to. And then, usually mid-sentence into your story or heated discussion, something frightening dawns on you. You start to pray the person you’re talking to doesn’t ask any follow up questions because you suddenly realize you have absolutely no idea where said country is, or possibly even what continent it’s part of. You quickly change the subject to something simple like the weather or that ridiculous new toilet paper commercial
(“It’s time to get real about what happens in the bathroom.”), just in case.
Or, at least, I naturally assume this happens to everyone because it happens to me all the time, and I not only graduated from high school, I also graduated from college. A very highly ranked one, no less. Surely there are a lot of people out there way dumber than I am.
We sell a wine in the store that led me to the realization that I am, in fact, a complete moron, and I should probably stop acting like an expert on pretty much everything. It is Pierre Boniface’s “Apremont,” a crisp, clean Vin de Savoie that I always enjoyed describing to customers as “like drinking fresh spring water, but with a kick.” I felt this representation really had a visceral impact. Up until recently, I also liked to tell them it was “from the northern-most point of France… right on the border of Switzerland.”
I don’t know why it never occurred to me these two things couldn’t be true at the same time. The wine was so light and acidic, it simply had to be from a northern-most point of somewhere. And, it had a Swiss flag on the label. By my calculations, one could hop in a car from Paris, drive due north and be in Switzerland by noon (admittedly, I had to Google the exact location of Paris to even write that with confidence).
I mean, can you blame me? Wouldn’t you see this label and think the same thing?
What was amazing about it all, was the fact that I told at least 200 people this same erroneous fact about our Apremont. And I didn’t just tell them about it. I gushedabout it. Gesticulated wildly. Waxed poetic about the fresh Alpine climate. Drew maps in the air of France for them, pointing right at the northern tip of it to indicate where Switzerland was. I never thought twice about the occasional look of faint confusion I would get. I simply thought the customer was trying to picture it all too, wistfully imagining taking a big swig of icy, spring water and feeling pleasantly buzzed, the breezes of northern France cooling the backs of their necks.
Ultimately, one customer kindly pointed out to me that Switzerland wasn’t actuallynorth of France at all.
“Right… I know… but right there… on the border…” And I gestured clumsily at the center of my air-map. I suddenly wasn’t sure the two countries even touched. I searched the depths of my brain for any lingering shred of a memory of 3rd-grade geography and yet I couldn’t conjure up even a crude mental layout of Western Europe to save my life.
Thankfully, the customer was gracious, and didn’t go out of his way to make me feel like a complete jerk. I already felt like enough of one on my own.
After the sale, I immediately locked myself in my office to study world maps. And it’s incredible how much I learned.
There are few things more awkward than attending The Grand Champagne Tasting Event at The Plaza Hotel in New York City – pregnant. Of course I know I’m spitting, but it’s a peculiar feeling to have a 5-million-watt spotlight follow you, the only pregnant lady, around the tasting room floor with every pair of eyes in the joint locked on your mouth. Bystanders holding their breath anticipating my spit – and letting out a collective sigh of relief when I finally do.
This is what they shined on me from the balcony.
Devin and I left the Champagne tasting after sipping (and spitting – me, not Devin) some terribly expensive champagnes and some ridiculously delicious champagnes. I was exhausted thanks to the few stray bubbles that did make their way down my throat and Devin was carrying the slightly buzzed, giggly, fast-talking load for the both of us. We were unequally yoked. But we were still in our element – departing the Plaza where we felt we legitimately belonged on a daily basis, cruising by the CBS Studios and casually waving at the production team inside as if we knew them all personally. They didn’t know it yet, but they’d be featuring us as soon as we became household names. So we waved “hi” and moved along 59th St. back toward the wine store.
I realized about 2 blocks into our walk that I should have used the ladies room at The Plaza. But I didn’t. And I should have.
Suddenly, 1 of 2 things happened. I had either just a) been teleported to the Central Park Spray Ground and my son, Max, had just nailed me square in the crotch with one of his water grenades, or b) I had just lost all control of my bladder (and any form of kegel I had picked up on over the years) unleashing a urinary explosion equivalent to rushing river rapids roaring down the legs of my pants. Right there on the corner of 61st and Madison. Not an ideal spot to pee your pants accidentally, or purposeful, actually, right next door to Barneys.
It happened so fast. I sneezed, I peed, I grabbed Devin’s arm, whipping her backward and firmly planting her right in front of me. I reached my left hand around to confirm how severe the damage. My jeans were soaked.
“Devin, I just peed my pants.”
“No you didn’t. Are you sure?”
“Devin, this used to happen to me. I know I peed my pants.”
“Lady, you’re 30 – you’ve dealt with this before? Turn around, lemme see.”
(I slowly turned around as all the corporate suits and ties pass by. Surely they could smell me.)
“OH MY GOD you peed your pants.”
“We’ve gotta get a cab, D.”
“We’re 5 blocks from the store! Turn around again. Yeah, we’ve gotta get a cab.”
Devin and I scurried to the corner, me holding my gigantic purse over my butt and definitely doing the wet-jeans shuffle.
We flagged the first cab we saw, even though it was headed in the wrong direction. I flung open the cab door to dive in and slide across the seat – when I suddenly realized I’d be leaving a warm, pee trail for my friend to then slide through. I immediately jumped back and we exchanged quick nods simultaneously like, “Um, yeah – thanks” and “Uh, sorry – you first.”
My jeans were sticking to my thighs. I rummaged through my purse for anything I could spritz into the air – the air I was rapidly polluting. We rolled down the windows and laughed so hard I was nervous it was going to happen all over again.
We got back to the store and I swear I’ve never exited a cab faster in my life. Of course I had zero cash to pay for this $4, 5 block cab ride and neither did Devin. So she used her credit card. Which slowed our hasty getaway and required me to sit half a second longer in my puddle – now permeating the black vinyl seat.
I raced from the cab to the store before any dog passers-by mistook my leg for a lamp post and marked their territory the way they do.
This, I announced to Devin, had definitely been more awkward than attending the Champagne Tasting pregnant.
Lindsay’s latest brilliant window display idea. She’s on ball 1 out of about 200. Estimated completion date: Around the same time the 2nd Avenue subway is completed.
I have a confession.
I ate McDonald’s the other day.
To be fair… I made the most out of it. I ate it with expensive Champagne. Really expensive Champagne. I figured, if you’re going to clog your arteries and tempt the gods of morbid obesity, you may as well throw some pricey bubbles on top of it all.
It started out with a craving. Like, a pregnancy, last-day-on-earth, just-smoked-a-fat-doob craving. I honestly don’t really know what a pregnancy craving is like, and I’ve somehow managed to avoid landing myself on death row thus far, but I do know what it’s like to get the munchies, and this was that feeling. On steroids. I needed grease and salt, and I needed it immediately.
But I wasn’t going down alone. I had to drag my entire staff with me. They were also going to eat McDonald’s and drink Champagne or they were going to get fired. I took requests from my confused, slightly terrified team and set out to purchase the fast food goods.
There are few things more unpleasant than a McDonald’s in midtown Manhattan during lunch hour on a Friday, and I learned this the hard way. Not only was it the most inefficient clusterfuck of total and complete mayhem (might I suggest an “order here” and “pick up here” window, rather than an “order, pay, stand around, complain, talk on cell phone, ask for more sweet and sour sauce, AND pick up here” window, dear McD’s?), I was also given one damp, half-ripped paper bag to carry enough food and beverages to feed the entire upper east side, in which I was supposed to transport our carcinogenic feast six blocks. This is what I looked like when I returned:
The camera doesn’t quite capture the sticky mess all over my arms and hands from the neon yellow and pink strawberry lemonade that Henry insisted on getting, as it is currently all the rage in the fast food world. It did, however, capture the multiple soft drinks and dye from the McDonald’s bag that I took to the chest, and subsequently tried to sponge off.
Despite an experience I would like never to repeat in this lifetime or the next, I was able to return to my clan with this tasty looking spread:
It seems a bit wrong to wash down something like this with water. But I’m just not the soda type, and I don’t really trust people who are. So, we decided to line up some alternative beverage options for the in-store fatfest.
The bottle of Cristal was a bit of an afterthought… a joke, really. It was a gift to the MWX team, and we had sort of been saving it for a special occasion. Or, well, at least a more special occasion than sitting around on case stacks on a random Friday afternoon, eating a collection of strange animal parts fried in fat. There wasn’t even a staff meeting. But, the more we thought about it, the more it seemed like an utterly brilliant idea. The best idea we’d ever had, in fact.
There is no better sound than that of a Champagne bottle popping, in particular in the workplace. While we all wanted to be celebrating raises, instead, we were celebrating our heartbeats (which we were about to be very thankful we still had, after this little cardiac arrest in a paper sac). We were alive, the sun was out, we did have jobs, thankfully among people we actually liked, and we were surrounded by the come-hither aromas of D-grade “beef.” Celia Cruz was on the iPod. Life was good.
Let me tell you something, dear readers. Nothing does McDonald’s justice like Cristal. Even more so than my beloved bubbles and bacon, egg and cheese, or, of course, our Champagne and Hotdogs… this pairing blows the mind. It’s everything you could ask for in a marriage of food and wine. Salty, oily, artificially flavored bites of Big Mac begged for a post-chew deep cleaning, a challenge our swank sipper was more than happy to tackle. The special sauce stood up to the yeasty complexity of this vintage Champagne, and mingled nicely with the finish, neither one dominating the other. And, if there has ever been a soul mate for god’s gift to late night drunk binge food – the McDonald’s french fry – Cristal is it. The tight, clean perlage was a match made in heaven for the cancer sticks, and a natural for cleansing the palate of all remnants of fat.
As you can see, I basically dislocated my jaw to cram this into my mouth. My parents would be so proud:
If only we could now get that unmistakable, eternal perma-grease scent that only McDonald’s could leave in its wake off our hands and clothes. And the store.
But we didn’t care if we all smelled like a car after a road trip to Vegas. We were drunk, fat, happy and much in need of a nap. All in the name of a hard day’s work.
Occasionally, we are serious. Or, well, we aren’t. But our blog can be. We understand our readers don’t necessarily always want to read about embarrassing and ridiculous things that happen to us on a daily basis. Sometimes they actually want to learn something…feel inspired or whatever. If you observed us in our professional lives, you might know that we probably aren’t the best teachers. But we are definitely the most fun, and boy can we inspire. And, if you came to one of our dinner parties, you would know that, when push comes to shove, we handle our business, and could show our followers a thing or two about whipping up a solid meal.
Last weekend, Lindsay hosted Part 1 of a rather belated Birthday (21st! Tenth time around!) celebration for me at her house. I was in Italy for my actual birthday, and, since we’re the most self-absorbed, self-indulgent people in the world, we couldn’t let the occasion go by without acknowledging it again with a little soiree, NYC-style. And by “we,” I mean “I.”
Since we live in New York City in shoebox-sized apartments that cost us our entire paychecks and then some, we are both space- and budget-conscious in our planning. This is a skill Lindsay, in particular, could teach and teach well. For example, this was the tablescape (do I need to credit Sandra Lee for using that expression?) she created for me:
Wine bottles + chalkboard paint + colored chalk + one bouquet of mixed flowers from the deli + a couple of candle tapers = genius, totally playful display for >$20. And, with the leftover chalkboard paint, you can coat some walls in your house for a creative outlet that keeps on giving… or a space for your significant other to write “I will not leave wet towels lying on the wood furniture” 100 times over since they clearly didn’t get it the first 50 times you told them not to.
The appetizer Lindsay prepared was a feast for both the eyes and palate. Crispy crostini piled high with fresh ricotta, paper-thin slices of prosciutto, juicy peaches and honey. Food porn at its best:
After stuffing our pieholes with this, we were treated to homemade pot roast, courtesy of Josh, AKA “Is that Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes?” AKA Lindsay’s hubby. Slabs of melt-in-your-mouth beef only barely upstaged their plate mates – mounds of creamy, buttery mashed potatoes napped with salty, meaty gravy (from scratch, no less), and a bright, crisp salad of pea shoots, sugar snap peas and beans, brought by our resident “real chef” and salad-guru Morgan.
When we were so full we could barely swallow our own saliva, out waltzed a birthday tart (appropriate). Flaky pastry, vanilla cream, berries, kiwis, oranges… this thing had everything. I made a wish that I didn’t look as unattractive as everyone else always does in blowing-out-the-birthday-candles pictures.
You might wonder what I did to contribute to this glorious night. Well, I solved the burning question of whether or not people have a “good side” and “bad side” in pictures. They do.
At this point, wine pairings, shmine pairings. We drank everything in the house. Sauvignon Blanc, Lambrusco, Chardonnay, Malbec, Sangiovese… those who sipped water in excess shall remain nameless (but lets just say T. Mann… no, that would be too obvious… How about…Tim M. Credit goes to The Simpsons for that little comedic gem). It didn’t matter what went and what didn’t. The apartment was breezy, the food filling, the company entertaining, the conversation hilarious (“He touched me where I pee”).
You, too, can create this same experience in your home on your budget– whether your abode is 600 square feet and packed with 15 people, and you have $25 to your name, or you have a chef’s kitchen, no friends and a large bank account (message us what that’s like, please). All you need is some cheap beef, a few potatoes, some admittedly fancy veggies, a pastry shop the name of which you refuse to tell your friends, and some wine. A lot of wine. Oh, and a naughty sense of humor.
Stay tuned for Part 2 next weekend. Bubbles and Bar Food. I’m so excited I could pee. Where he touches me.