Sunday, January 02, 2005

Wine, Morels and Sex ~{;~J

A short story published in Mosaic Magazine -April 2003

Two couples who met in the maternity ward socialized for the quarter century it took to bring their babes from nursing through schooling to graduation. To celebrate, they decide to hold a formal DINK (double income no kids) dinner on Mother's Day.
The wives would pool their culinary skills. Shamus' wife, a Parisian, was a gourmet cook. Dylan's wife, a teacher , would host the event at their summer home at Traverston --a ghost town on the Rocky Saugeen River.
Although the men are of Irish and Scottish descent, they are not descendants of Glenelg Township's pioneers. Indeed, old family names associated with the operation of the grist and sawmills disappeared generations ago. New migrants from the city, craving rustic settings, bought the houses of the miller and smithy as well as riverfront farms.
Since Dylan's and Shamus' ancestral lands are noted for short cookbooks the husbands are not allowed in the kitchen. Being Canadian, they like their suds, and yet pretend to be wine experts; grape bores, say the wives.
This occasion requires something unusual. While the ladies plan courses, their gentlemen retire to the patio for a few beers ...and decide to play real dinks.
"Lets get Irish or Welsh vintages," suggests Shamus.
"They're hard to find," responds Dylan. "Domestic wines around $12 will do. Now, while we are in the spirit let's script our parts." The actors settle on customary praise of the first bottle, with subsequent assessments being increasingly randy. They no longer have to restrain their language because for the first time, teenagers will not be present.
The next week, Dylan, with unusual theatrics, carries three bottles to the cellar. Later his wife checks the selection and plans a few surprises of her own, one of which is to substitute pig's feet and knuckles for spareribs.
Meanwhile, Shamus rolls his vintage 1970 convertible out of the garage in preparation for the first spring trip. The weather forecast is sunny, so food boxes and precious bottles are carefully stowed in the trunk. The two couples pile in and cruise north in a festive mood.
On Mother's day, dinner gets underway with champagne toasts to their mothers -and to the long-awaited empty nest status. Then comes the predictable ritual with the first bottle of wine; extolling the area, the winery, and the year.
Throughout the first two courses there are effusive compliments about the cuisine, especially, the pork dish and woodsy morel sauce. Dylan comments, "Someone once said, 'Marrying these plump fungi with a youthful wine substitutes for sex.'"
His wife retorts, "Whoever said that must have been a monk. Lucky for us these wines aren't that great."
"Maybe so," adds Shamus, "but my favourite American author, Ambrose Bierce, got it right when he said, 'Wine, Madam, is God's next best gift to man.'"
His lady parries with, "When man marries, surely mother-in law replaces wine as the second best gift."
"Touche," concedes Shamus, "but on this feast day, let's not go there."
"And, don't forget the words of the porter in Macbeth, "she adds, "'Drink provokes the desire, but it takes away from the performance.'"
Having lost the verbal duel, the dudes eagerly test the second bottle. "Ah! This one is absolutely ravishing, if not downright seductive," chortles Dylan.
His friend concurs, "Ah yes, lithe, nimble and nubile with a titillating fragrance."
These observations bring a rose blush to the cheeks of the petite Parisienne. The hostess merely smiles and brings on the faux truffle ravioli.
Upon opening the next flask, Shamus pronounces, "Matronly and somewhat past its prime."
"Wait a moment, interjects Dylan. "Let me have a sip." After a taste, he purrs, "Humm, full-bodied, yet there's still residual suppleness and it's slightly nutty. Let the ladies decide."
Feigning annoyance, the hostess snaps, "Let's just set it aside, and have this sweet wine with dessert."
Slamming the cork in the suspect bottle, Shamus mutters, "Smells like wet dog to me." He brightens up when he sees passion fruit pudding being served. Passing the suggested sweet wine to his collaborator, he makes the aside, "More fun to come."
Without noticing sediment in the slim bottle, the host pulls the loose stopper, and starts to say, "A luscious character, and..." The stench wafting across the table is not ice wine or anything a delicate nose would care to identify. He stammers, "and fruit flies rather, fruit lies at its core."
Shamus cuts him short, "You mean rotten to the core," and rushes to open the patio door. Pandemonium reigns. Dylan trips as he dashes down the hall to flush the contents.
The wives grab sweaters and bolt outdoors. "In all my years I've never seen them act like this," says one.
A chill sets in as shadows of fragrant cedars lengthen across the gravel road. Realizing their skit is totally tasteless, the gonzos are about to apologize when laughter echoes from the pathway down the limestone gorge.
"My scheming wife doctored that bottle", growls Dylan. "What was that garbage anyway? Wild leek and rotten egg?"
"Yep," says his now contrite pal. "Yolks on us. Let's take our just desserts, wash the dishes and go polish the old Buick. "
jd sweeney
PS Should you have contacts in the Markdale/Traverston area, be sure to relay this link to them.

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