There’s nothing to me like the low thooomm from a corkscrewed bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a warm note, it’s welcoming. I’m not a scholar on the stuff; I don’t sniff it, swish it around for its notes, or air it out. As a waiter, I knew a proper bottle opening was soundless, that an improper opening could completely ruin the taste of the wine, but I rarely drank the stuff then. When I did, I learned that wine tastes the same to me out of the bottle or in a glass. Cork properly screwed out, or shredded from trying to get a quick slug in before the boss caught us.
When I started drinking at home to unwind, I unscrewed the cork silently. I poured centered just above the glass but drank as I had when I was a waiter; gulps and pursed, purple lips. I’d watch a movie, maybe smoke a bowl, or write. I started during college, so most nights I would do assignments high and wine drunk. I did well enough in class but I was usually something’d out of my mind. On nights when I smoked before I drank, I’d forget my inner server and pop the cork out high pitched, splash it into a glass, but still sip; my already dry mouth couldn’t take much Cabernet at a time.
I started to pay attention to the sound the bottle made when opened. There’s a timeless sound associated to it, one everybody knows. It’s a nice note; it’s synonymous with celebration, achievement, and good will. When a bottle of wine POPs, something has gone right. I popped bottles like this for a while, I enjoyed opening them; I was quick with it, carefree. Once college ended and I quickly learned that an undergrad degree may as well have been a nevergrad for potential employers, I didn’t really care for the celebratory POP of my hasty, high removals. There was nothing to celebrate; I was without a job and out of my safety-net classroom.
Another low, bass open. After a few sips I lay in bed, prop open the laptop, and start plugging away. I almost bought a different wine tonight, thought this one was sold out. Picked up another marked at 11.99 but when the new woman rang it up it cost 21.99.
“Whoa! Are you sure you want this? It’s 21.99!”
She knows me well already.
“21.99? Oh wow, I can find something else. No problem.”
I walked back towards the Cabernet to look for something inexpensive.
“Does the sign say 11.99?”
“Yeah, I think it does.”
This began a pretty long dialogue between she and I about the price of the bottle, involving Henry, a man I’ve known there for a long time. I didn’t care that it was 21.99, I never had it before. I wasn’t looking to get a better price because of a mismark; I could find something cheaper without hesitation.
“Yeah, I usually pick up this one, but saw it was sold out.” I pointed to an empty wood indent for a Chilean wine, priced at 11.99.
“I thought this one was 11.99 too so I figured I’d try it, but if it’s not it’s no big deal. I can find something else.”
With this, Henry bent down and looked at the bottles stacked beneath the presentation wood; he came up with a bottle of Cupcake, the 11.99 Chilean Cabernet I originally wanted.
How had I not looked down there? I saw the stacks, gave a quick glance, and figured there weren’t any bottles of what I wanted. I felt embarrassed about my laziness but got over it by small talking with the new woman about domestic beer until I told her a glass of wine puts me to sleep, casually laughed at her response, and said “goodnight”.
I open bottles now with a low, warm note because I don’t think I’m celebrating anymore. My temp job finishes tomorrow and though I sometimes really dislike it, I would rather see a paycheck than 12 pm on my phone first thing after waking up. I’ve gotten used to the idea of receiving unemployment, though I hope it’s not long. I won’t mind the checks for free money, but I get bored quickly. I don’t mind working for others in small increments of time, but I know I have to work for myself to really be happy and peaceful. I’ll probably take other temp jobs if nothing happens in the next few months and just hope for the best.
It’s an old friend. There’ve been many bottles but it’s aged with me; its first sound when opened a symbol of myself at the time. POP’d in college, during a time when nothing mattered outside of the classroom; to the low, motivated and welcoming thooomm I lull myself to now. I can be ok without a job; I just need to rely on myself. Can’t give in so easily when things get tough. Shit, if it takes a bottle’s low noise to help convince me that it’ll be ok, that I can do this, then so be it.