“Oh boy!” I said when I woke up this morning. “It’s my birthday! Maybe we can celebrate! Maybe we can drink some wine tonight that doesn’t smell like a greasy jockstrap!”
I took this proposition to my mother, who hadn’t had the slightest inkling that the resident Liquorstore Bear had just turned 10 years old. Like, OMG!
(Not only do I get to enter the double digits today; I get to do it before Miss P, who won’t celebrate her 10th until December. In your face, P!)
“So, it’s my birthday,” I mentioned, sidling along the kitchen counter as my mother halfheartedly wiped it. (Have you seen that commercial in which they wipe the kitchen counter with a raw chicken breast to illustrate how germy the average kitchen cloth is? I bet my mother inspired that.)
“Oh,” she said. “Happy birthday.”
“I know, right?” I said, a small seed of desperation popping into existence somewhere underneath my fur. “I’m, like, 10!”
“Wow, 10,” she said, giving the “Wow” a Valium bottle’s worth of emphasis. “I can’t believe we got you 10 years ago. What were we thinking?”
“You were thinking it was a good idea!” And, knowing she would never allow me to reach my point gracefully, I said, “So, what kind of booze are you buying?”
“Hadn’t thought about it.”
“Whisky? A 10-year malt would be appropriate, I guess…”
“I mean, it’s 7:00, LB. It hadn’t occurred to me.”
“Or maybe 10 bottles of wine. Or hey—how about some Tanqueray Ten?”
“I guess we should make you a cake.”
“Or how about some Tennessee Gentleman Jack? Get it? Tennesee?”
“Aren’t you underage?”
This was going down the wrong path. I mean, yes, we always have a cake; the kids LOVE making cakes, but really. OMG.
She must have seen my pained look, because she said, “Oh, you know we’ll buy a bottle of wine.”
“Good! What kind?”
“Well, I don’t know…probably our usual.”
Our usual, lately, is SETUBAL ERMELINDA FREITAS MONTE DA BAIA from Portugal. It’s $11.29 at our local booze store, 13.5%, and is a concentrated, richly tannic, ripe blend that we found on the Consultant’s Choice shelf and have scooped up several times. Arguably not as complex as the sort of wine you might buy for a bear who has provided 10 epic years of enjoyment for a family of four, it nevertheless sports some interesting wood and vanilla notes that linger pleasingly on the palate. My mum enjoys it more than my dad, who always comments that it is “sweet” and elaborates no further—but it does, in fact, stop short of exhibiting a jammy lack of discipline. SETUBAL ERMELINDA FREITAS MONTE DA BAIA is a combo of several grape varietals, the most internationally recognizable being Syrah, and it is aged in half-and-half American/French Oak barrels. Solid food eaters will probably enjoy cheese or game with it, but certainly not birthday cake… Although, when a birthday cake is as thoughtfully decorated as P and V’s invariably are, how can a bear say no?