Evicted. Damn. “Where did I go wrong?,” I wondered, as I laid down on the hard futon mattress, empty wine bottles, magazines and cigarette buds everywhere. I paid most of the rent (most of the time). Didn’t the landlord understand that?
It was a marshy, snow-ridden Brooklyn evening in 2004. That night, I threw on my chocolate vintage suede jacket, the one with the gold trim and faux fur collar, the one I got for 10 bucks at Red, White and Blue during a Thanksgiving trip to Miami. I hopped on the C train and headed for The Village. I waded through the sharp, dense New York City freeze that cut my face like the edges of a thousand billing statements. I roamed aimlessly down Broadway, hoping I’d get some sign, some burning bush-style breakthrough. Was this the end for me and New York? Was I doomed to return to Muggle life in Miami?
Then a bright light suddenly shone upon my face. The fluorescent glow beamed from what had become my sanctuary, the place where penance ranged between $6 and $25 — Astor Wines & Spirits. I lamented to a dreadlocked Dumbledore — the manager and my friend, Michael Trotman. Staring hopefully into his eyes, I queried, “What should I do?”
“Have you had the Goats do Roam?” he asked quizzically. Was he crazy? Did he hear what I said? The last thing I should be doing is buying wine “This one’s on me,” he said. “The name is a play on the region of Côtes-du-Rhône. Go home. Have a glass or two with a friend, then think about this tomorrow.”
I walked home solemnly, Michael’s $10 quick fix bulging from my jacket pocket (pretty sure it was the 2003 vintage), and invited my friend Black-Dah-Lack over. Black-Dah-Lack was an aspiring actor, having been nicknamed after his beloved digestif–blackberry brandy. He was a tall, dark and lanky weedhead, known for skateboarding through the city rain, sleet or snow and stumbling into fortunes that defied human comprehension. One day he’d be on the Upper East Side tucked underneath some rich woman’s new boobs and the next he’d be auditioning for Rent, winning the part of Collins and traveling to Tokyo.
We loved wine surfing together, and so this night was not much different from our other wine adventures. I lit up my Santería-esque candles in the space that was soon to become my ex-home and poured the Goat juice into my flimsy dollar store wine glasses. We weren’t wine connoisseurs, but in each new bottle we saw the opportunity to travel to a new place, a new life where we were making good money, doing what we loved to do, a life without eviction notices and hard futon mattresses.
That night we rode Black-Dah-Lack’s skateboard over the southwestern slopes of the Paarl Mountain in South Africa. We shook hands with the winemaker, Charles Back, and joked about his middle-finger response to Côtes-du-Rhône. We relished the smell of roasted Jamaican cocoa beans and tobacco while dancing through flavors of dark chocolate and pomegranate. In this dream, the winemaker revealed his blending secrets as we skateboarded above the Pinotage, Syrah, Grenache, Gamay and Mourvèdre vineyards.
That night, Black-Dah-Lack and I sipped and roamed from one emotion to the next. We laughed; I cried. “I’m so tired of the hustle,” I told him. Writing in the day, waitressing at night; temping at these bullsh*t corporate jobs. I felt stuck.
We fell asleep (no, nothing happened) and were startled by my phone’s obnoxious ring early the next morning. It was an editor from Time Out New York with a small assignment — a wine boutique profile. It wasn’t going to save my eviction, but it gave me what I needed to face another day.
That December, I moved to Miami, the Rhone grapes now holding a special place in my heart. I often visit Charlie (my new Dumbledore who loves silver jewelry) at Crown Wine & Liquor on 125th St and Biscayne. There I find my favorite Côtes-du-Rhône labels: La Garrigue, Perrin Réserve, Domaine d’Andezon and of course, Goats do Roam. They’re great with everything from cold spaghetti and Ragú to brown stew chicken. I’m convinced that the 2005 Domaine d’Andezon was made for Publix Moose Tracks ice-cream.
I hear from Black-Dah-Lack at least once a month. He’s in Seattle or Milan right now. Sometimes, he’ll send me a bottle from wherever he is and, of course, has to bring up old sh*t: “Remember that night you got evicted?” he’ll say. “What was the name of that wine? Goats Do Ho?”