It has been reported that smell is one of the most powerful triggers to a memory. And sure, who doesn't get taken back to their childhood kitchen when they smell the Christmas cookies baking...or to homecoming celebrations (or campsites, which I gladly know nothing about) when they catch a whiff of a bonfire burning?
But it has recently come to my wine-y little mind that I have begun associating a certain wine with a certain person. It happened as I was trawling the wine aisles the other day, trying to decide on just the right bottle to give a fellow wine lover as a birthday present. I passed by the Barefoot wines...and saw the beautiful blue label on the Barefoot merlot bottle and boom...there was Charlie.
Charlie is my mother's boyfriend. But, since Charlie and said mother are both 73, it kind of freaks my kids out when I refer to him as that. (I guess Mimi isn't allowed to have a boyfriend..in their minds, she exists solely to hand out gummy bears, black and white cookies and, more recently, $20 bill for the gas tank.) So I have begun to introduce him as my step dad. Makes life a whole lot simpler, since they are pretty much together all the time anyway.
Charlie and Mimi are a great story. I always get an "awww" or a "how cute" when I tell how my divorced mother and the widower Charlie met up again at their 50th high school reunion. (pausing for the awww here....) We met him about 3 years ago and he has filled some big holes in our lives. I love having a "dad" around, and my children are slowly getting used to the idea of a grandpa. (My husband lost his father while we were in college and mine passed away when the kids were very young.) I can clearly remember the look of confusion on my college son's face one day when he learned the role a grandpa plays in life: We were all at the Army-Navy game (son is a Cadet at West Point). Our son had to sit with the Corps of Cadets, but we got to meet up with him for a bit and he asked for some money for food. Before my husband could reach his wallet, Charlie had handed over a nice crisp $20. My son looked at the money, looked at us..and paused. I laughed out loud as my hubby chuckled, and said to our son, "Honey, that's what Grandpas do." I am happy to report that he and my daughter are VERY quick learners.
Ok, but why am I writing about my mom's boyfriend (I can assume that since you are not my children, you are able to read that term without cringing)?
Here's the best part (for me anyway): Charlie is a wine-y guy! Yup. Loves his vino. (And his martinis, which I cannot learn to like, although I do admit to stealing his olives when he is't looking. They're pretty good soaked in martini...). And Charlie isn't timid about his wine, unlike my mother, who I shamefully admit ONLY drinks white zin. Nothing wrong with white zin, but she just won't try anything else. Ah well...back to Charlie. He loves his reds.
One day, not long after we met, we started talking about which wines we liked. I happened to mention that I really liked the Barefoot line - great wine, great price and really cute label. He got all excited and told me how his late wife had liked it and that his kids liked it and he always brings some to his daughter's house and wow, how neat that we liked the same line of wine (a line that is readily available in our multi-state family relationship, by the way).
The next day, he arrived with 2 bottles of the Barefoot merlot. For me.
This was a few years ago, and never have I arrived at my childhood home in NJ when there hasn't been a bottle of that merlot, with its lovely blue label, waiting for me. Charlie always points out that it's there and that he got it for me...with a big smile on his face. And then he opens it for me and fusses over finding the right glass. He's not just my wine buddy, he's a dad to me - not because he buys me wine, but because he cares enough to make sure that something I enjoy is there when I come home. A little gesture - but one with big meaning behind it.
Back to my walk among the wine bottles. There was the blue label. And right with it came thoughts of Charlie. Charlie, who loves it when I introduce him as my dad, who is the grandpa my kids never knew, who is giving my mom a totally rocking time in her golden years. He was right there in the aisle with me and whenever I see that label, he will be. I don't just see a great wine...I see a thoughtful gesture from a wonderful guy who has so lovingly touched the lives of me and mine.
Cheers to you Charlie!