What I Finally Convinced My Husband To Do
He's been a stubborn soul mate.
I've lost track of the number of times I've asked — some might say gently nudged — my husband to open the prized case of expensive wine he has relentlessly guarded for years. Before getting married, no matter where he moved the box was the first item he packed. The client who presented him with the generous gift 20 years ago didn't expect him to pass the bottles down from generation to generation like a Persian rug, antique furniture … or guilt. It was meant to be enjoyed in his lifetime — or at least before he was too old to notice the difference between alcohol and Geritol.
Convincing him to part with the cherished dozen bottles valued somewhere between our electric bill in August and the national debt has been more difficult than assuring my sons that I don't stalk their Instagram feeds all day, which is ridiculous. I only have time to check social media in the evening.
No matter how many valid reasons I share with him by text and email, and on sticky notes strategically placed throughout our home, his office and his car, the response I’ve eagerly awaited from my partner has eluded me for years.
“It's my birthday,” I’ve told him. “Let's pop a few corks.” No deal.
“It's your birthday,” I’ve insisted. “Let's do this thing.” Nope.
“You don’t have to spend time with my family this weekend,” I’ve suggested. While he admits being tempted by this particular offer, the answer is still no.
My stubborn soul mate has crafted more excuses for saving his precious wine than my youngest has ever concocted for skipping curfew. His resolve to save the wine for the right time and the perfect occasion has been admirable, amazing and annoying.
After years of creative reasoning and failed bargaining, I finally convinced my spouse it was time for us to sample his private stash. I had even resorted to writing, directing and performing a one-woman show. The off-key musical was based on the life-changing effects of experiencing forbidden wine. My husband and my son’s cat were unimpressed and subsequently moved in with my son. The cat, not my husband.
Desperately wanting to avoid a repeat performance of my off-key production, my husband lifted the heavy box onto the dining room table and carefully sliced through the heavily taped lid. The fragile cork, breaking into dozens of pieces like an aged chunk of blue cheese, should have been our first clue about the condition of the bottle's contents.
The two of us, focusing far too much on the sweet nectar that would soon be dancing on our taste buds, stopped thinking rationally. Instead, we attributed the crumbling cork to the obvious high quality of the wine. Wasn't a disintegrating cork on a ridiculously expensive bottle merely confirmation of being perfectly aged, unlike a bargain-brand cork that stays in one piece and may or may not even be made of cork at all?
My personal sommelier poured what looked more like faded prune juice than liquid gold into a large wine glass. He swirled it carefully the way an exquisite wine deserves, and took a long sip. What happened next was a cross between fascinating and disgusting. He rushed to the kitchen, flipped on the faucet and sprayed the sink with every nasty drop of the coveted wine in his mouth like an elephant hosing off its young. Was this a refined way to drink expensive Cabernet? I had a lot to learn.
Rather than savor the rich flavor of grapes from a vineyard, he experienced the nasty taste of vinegar from a wine past its prime. In all fairness to the wine, it had spent years tucked away in a damp basement, stacked in a hot garage and crammed in the corner of a stuffy attic, all of which were kept at different temperatures. We didn’t want the evening to end on a literal sour note. My hubby opened a bottle of Smoking Loon, our go-to wine, and I ordered a pizza. We looked at each other and agreed we weren't cut out for the lifestyle of the rich and almost-famous, anyway.
A few days later an old friend sent my husband an oversized box of steaks from a well-known steakhouse. He opened the unexpected gift and carefully placed the vacuum-sealed pieces of beef in the freezer as I asked myself why my friends only buy me candles.
He loaded the last few steaks onto the bottom shelf and said, “These are perfect to save for a special occasion.” I thought about the recycling bin full of empty wine bottles and disappointment as I reached into the freezer and grabbed four thick packs to share with the couple joining us for dinner that night. The thought of him spitting prime pieces of meat into the sink a few years from now was too much to bear.
The next morning I scrolled through the contact list on my phone. By the end of the day, I had scheduled dinner plans with six other friends and their spouses for the following few weeks, which I calculated would take us through the end of the month and the rest of the steaks.