CRIOS TORRONTES (2011)—Good enough to attract the undead

My Fellow Inebriates,

It appears Granny doesn’t need Fluffy any more; she’s loose in the house and no longer requires a furry vessel.

Go ahead. Roll your eyes. But last night at 3:00am both kids woke up screaming.

Usually, if this happens, my dad wakes up first. In contrast to all the other mothers in the world who are famously sensitive to their little ones’ cries, my mother goes into a coma when she sleeps, and by the time she’s aware of their distress (if she even becomes aware) my dad’s already parked himself on the floor between their two beds and resigned himself to an uncomfortable hour while they settle down.

Tough luck for my mum—Dad’s in Vegas this week. Who knows how long the kids had to scream to rouse her; I didn’t hear it myself. (I don’t sleep in my parents’ room [for fear of witnessing Unspeakable Acts].) I was downstairs, passed out after an irresistible glass of CRIOS TORRONTES (2011). But she finally dragged herself into the girls’ room and sprawled between their beds.

On the floor she was oppressed by dreams of Granny, who demanded—in the only dream my mother could remember particularly—whether she had watered the plant. (She hadn’t.)

But why do I suspect Granny’s ghost has decoupled itself from Fluffy? It seems to need to be somewhere; it wasn’t here until Fluffy arrived from Ireland, which makes me think it hitchhiked, which makes me think she needed a place to reside for the voyage. It’s just that lately…lately Fluffy’s started seeming kind of normal, maybe even cool. He hasn’t given off that freaky golem aura in a while. He hangs out with the bears; he watches Breaking Bad with us…he’s okay.

So why did Granny ditch him? And where is she now?

The first question is easy. Summer will drive our thermostat beyond 38°C (that’s over 100°F). Fluffy’s the fluffiest, most insulated animal who ever entered the house. His body will be purgatory for any occupant spirits. In fact, a paranormal squatter would be only slightly less desperate than Fluffy himself. Granny must have vamoosed.

What confirms this is the thermostat itself. We bears have been razzing Fluffy about his thick pelt and warning him that Langley ain’t Northern Ireland—he’s gonna suffer when the mercury rises. So he’s been getting stressed out. And the day Dad left for Vegas, the thermostat quit. I think Fluffy accidentally destroyed it with his mind just by fretting about his impending suffering. And Granny herself—well, she’s visited Langley in summer before, so she knows what it’s like; she probably deked out at that moment, leaving Fluffy in sole charge of his paranormally amplified faculties and nuking our thermostat.

So Granny is bumping around the house sans Fluffy and messing with everybody’s REM sleep. OMG! Why? How long do the dead hang around? Isn’t there some notion about them going somewhere? Or is there unfinished business here?

Personally, and you may find this cynical, I think she may well have been on her way into the ether when we bought BEEFEATER 24. Granny was pretty easygoing about her booze, so she wouldn’t quibble about whether it was the family gin of my mother’s childhood or a tea-infused 2008 bid for more market share. It was BEEFEATER, damn it, and when 750mL of it arrived in the house, she decided to stay. And my mum sealed the deal by also buying a delectable white wine. Why would Granny go anywhere with CRIOS TORRONTES in the house?

A Staff Pick at our neighborhood booze shop, CRIOS TORRONTES had been giving us come hither looks for months. The only thing delaying the purchase was my dad, who’s not keen on white wine. My mum bought it within an hour of dropping him off at the airport—that’s how keen we both were to try it. And with good reason.

Intensely aromatic, CRIOS TORRONTES exudes peach—not the gently rotting peach of a Unibroue beer but rapturously fresh peach backed up by subtler orchard fruits. These generous fragrances hint of fruit hedonism—out-of-control sweetness and mayhem in the mouth. But CRIOS TORRONTES is faking you out with those orgiastic aromas. Sip it, and instead of being overwhelmed, you are drawn into a beguiling off-dry symphony of flavors, delicately structured with all the fruity exuberance of a good Sauvignon Blanc—but in a bigger-bodied, sultry, and lingering Torrontes. As it rises from fridge temperature, CRIOS TORRONTES becomes even more appealing, continuing to waft gorgeous peach and melon while spreading across the palate with elegant pacing and controlled generosity.

I’m thinking we need to pound this wine tonight and chase it with the BEEFEATER 24 so these libations are not hanging around when everybody goes to sleep. As much as I liked Granny, her visits are freaking me out.

She’s heeeere

An eerie feeling has been creeping up on me …someone might be around. Someone who isn’t with us any more.

The general policy around LBHQ is to be skeptical about paranormal activity. Things get weird enough when your brain cells spend the percentage of time marinating in tequila that mine do. It’s already a sufficient struggle to keep track of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny without entertaining the notion that my deceased Granny might be haunting us.

BUT. Weird Things Have Happened.

If you missed my last reports about Granny, here are the facts:

  • Granny was my mum’s mother. She was part of the liquor-store shopping expedition during which I was purchased in 2005.
  • Granny was one of those people who understands bears. She even had her own bear, which my mum sent to her seven years ago, and which resided with her in Ireland.
  • Granny and I enjoyed a glass of chardonnay together from time to time when she visited Canada.  
  • Granny died in November.

We try to be very fact-oriented around here, but with two little girls under six ruling the household, things get unavoidably fanciful.

And those girls have been ardently wishing for Granny to come back.

Do they know what they’re asking? OMG! I don’t think they do. You see, my parents haven’t shown them any zombie movies or documentaries about the Shroud of Turin, nor do they read William Peter Blatty books to them at bedtime. Thus the kids have no points of reference vis-à-vis resurrection, the undead, or even poltergeists. So when they wish for Granny to return, they’re expressing an innocent hope without tapping into the arsenal of pop-cultural paranoia to which we older types have ready access.

HOWEVER. There Are These Weird Things.

Exhibit A

Cold spots. If you’ve seen The Sixth Sense you know things get cold when there are ghosts present. Well, our house has been freaking cold! In fact, only when my dad fixed the furnace did it get warmer. You be the judge.

Exhibit B

Noises. When my mum had her birthday last month, my dad took the kids out for a few hours. The house became uncharacteristically silent, and she started doing my typing. Then, suddenly (!) there was a loud crash from another room. Something had fallen. All by itself. Now…was it the precarious pile of toys in the living room simply conceding to gravity, or was it Granny wishing Mum a happy birthday?

Exhibit C

The kids are terrified of going upstairs. When Granny died in November, the whole family talked about it without any reference to the possibility of an afterlife, ghosts, spirits, haunting—any of that stuff—and certainly without any ideas about the dead coming back or watching us or trying to communicate. And, despite some sadness over Granny’s death, the girls bounced back quickly to their normal selves—and had no reason to be afraid of roaming the house. UNTIL…

Exhibit D

Fluffy. The weirdest thing has been the arrival of Fluffy, the bear that, years ago, my mum sent to Granny in Ireland, and which was returned to us after her death.

Shortly after Mum’s brother brought Fluffy back to us from the funeral, the girls became afraid. First the four-year-old refused to go upstairs alone, then the six-year-old (never previously afraid) became anxious too. Now neither will go upstairs without the other. When questioned, they don’t produce a reason, but something has changed.

Fluffy remains uncommunicative, his brain seemingly damaged by the long soak in detergent and fabric softener he was subjected to before his trans-Atlantic flight. Catatonic as he is, Fluffy has still captured the affections of my bear-fetishizing once-upon-a-time girlfriend Dolly (perhaps she digs catatonia too).

Getting jilted isn’t the weird part, though. The weird part is Fluffy’s impassive, expressionless yet overwhelming presence. Oh, we regular bears have tried to get to know him. He even sleeps in the bear bed with us, his sheer fluffiness taking up half the bed. But he doesn’t respond, even when I grind up against him obnoxiously just to elicit a reaction. Nothing. And yet, he is. Fluffy is here.

I don’t know if Granny ever talked to Fluffy while he lived in her room. She was very solitary; she used to stay in, reading and smoking (Fluffy has probably been in nicotine withdrawal the last couple of months).


Streakers. As you know, I spend a lot of time staring—just staring—and the almost-things I see are just in my peripheral vision. And there are more of them since Fluffy arrived! My mum says this comes from drinking wormy mescale. You be the judge.

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Okay, so Fluffy’s not friendly, but is he possessed?

My mum says it’s just jealousy and mescale talking, but I think so.

Has Fluffy permanently stolen my girlfriend?

Yes. Fleecy is to Dolly what Axe body spray is to teenage girls, and I can’t compete with his outrageous floral aroma.

Is Fluffy going to compete with me for liquor?

We’ll see. I don’t mind if he helps open bottles, but he isn’t any more equipped with thumbs than he is with a vocabulary.

Is Fluffy harboring Granny’s ghost, and is she gathering strength so she can reveal herself to us? OMG! I don’t even have any chardonnay to offer her.

Granny was my mum’s mother, so I asked her if she thinks Granny’s here. She says she doesn’t know, but she’s going to tighten the cap on the mescale.