a sarcastic letter, two impatient middle-aged men, and a french style wine tasting.Posted: September 11, 2009
Albert sets a bulbous wine glass onto a cloth doily, careful, as to not spill the deep velvet contents inside. “A friend once told me that the key ingredient to a French style wine tasting is a deep red olive, floating in a few glasses,” he says, after fully savoring the sip he had so carefully stolen.
Across from him sits Bastien, his face wrinkled by the passages and stresses of time and work, his eyes and disposition sullen, jaded. “Is it ironic that a Frenchman like myself has never been to a French style wine tasting?” He grasps a sweating glass of whiskey, debating within himself whether to drink or leave it be. The atmosphere within this restaurant is warm, it wraps each patron in a thick veil of luxury more suited to romance. Albert and Bastien sit across from each other, separated by a glass of wine, a candle about to melt completely, and the aforementioned glass of whiskey. There is a wine tasting being carried out five meters from the pair, and mumbles of how “oak-y” or “fruity” a certain Bordeaux was.
“You’re about as French as french fries, Bastien,” Albert retorts. The statement seemed too contradictory to make any sort of sense. “You’ve been here in the States for what, twenty years now? More? You’ve been the same Americanized, impatient, cynical bastard that you’ve been since I met you.”
“That’s actually kind of insulting. You do know I was raised by my mother since birth, yes?”
“You were not.”
“I could have. I don’t tell you much of my personal life.” Bastien begins to light a cigarette, much to the indifference of the restaurant staff.
“Anyway,” Albert says, effectively ceasing that line of conversation. He reaches into his worn navy blazer, torn by time and ex-lovers. “I got a letter from Madelyn.” He produces a crumpled white envelope from an interior pocket, and sets it on the table. Bastien looks at it intently, ignoring the urge to tear it open in order to appear more tactful. “She always did like to write letters when she was angry.”
“What did you do this time?” Bastien asks, “How did you fuck up? Will you go ahead and open that damn letter already? Can I read it?”
“What are you, a crack whore looking for chocolate?” Though in their middle ages, Albert and Bastien acted as if they were twenties. It was a sign of either the start of a midlife crisis, or two men who didn’t quite grow up. “I might have scorned her in some way or another, leaving abruptly and coming back even moreso; you know, my usual thing.” Albert looks at his glass, lifts it, and takes a sip, the smell of wine old enough to order its own wine tickling his nostrils. The taste of it reminds him of a stormy afternoon. “I could tell when I got this letter, that it would be the last straw between her and I.”
“Really? After all of these years?”
Albert grimaces. “Can I have your whiskey? This letter is kind of hard to read.” He holds his hand outward, in potential acceptance.
“Be my guest.” Bastien hands him the glass, almost tipping it over with anticipation. Bastien, the cynical bastard that he is, took solace in the misery of others. Meanwhile, the wine tasting was reaching a quiet crescendo. The patrons had begun to disperse, each clutching a glass of various shades of velvet. Albert takes and proceeds to down the liquor, steeling himself. He takes his well worn fingers and opens the envelope, revealing a sheet of paper dotted with ink and cursive. He begins to read.
I like how you disappear off of the face of the earth when something comes between us, so I decided to leave this where I know you’d find it. I want to say that the events of a few nights ago won’t happen again, that you and I will obviously get along once more and we’d be as happy as we were when we were both young, stupid (at least, on your part), and utterly naive, but we both know that isn’t true. You didn’t even bother to say goodbye!
I think that was the greatest part of all of this.
I don’t regret anything, at all. Not even the fact that you never told me that you love me. All I know is that what you did made me realize that I don’t really love you, either. I was wasting my time with you, and you were too oblivious to care. I know you well enough to know that you probably think you’re pulling off the distant type, but in the end, the distant type always ends up alone.
You ignore me anyway, so why should I bother? I know you tried you best, and that’s what counts, and I gave you my everything, the best times of your life, and… well, at least you tried.
So thanks for everything. I obviously mean a lot to you, huh?
Albert took a breath. The thoughts, though they were in line with what he had predicted, were scattered, disparate, and utterly scarring.
“So what now?” Bastien asks.
A waiter returns with a new wine glass for Albert, the liquid from a different bottle, a different vineyard, a different year; floating within it a deep-rouge olive that reminded him of something entirely too morbid.