By Dinkinish O'Connor
I should have lied. But how could I see this coming? She said it was just a pamphlet (However, it was the size of a Lord of The Rings book).
Let’s rewind: I met April Connelly at a Côtes du Rhône tasting at Wine 69. Dollar for Dollar, many Côtes du Rhône labels offer matchless depth for their feathery price tags.
The line-up: 1. 2006 Domaine Grand Veneur Les Champauvins, 2. 2007 Ortas Les Viguiers and 3.2007 Domaine de Presidente Grand Classiques. The first wine was deep violet with aromas of beef carpaccio and flavors of kirsch, white pepper and licorice. The second wine was Dwayne Johnson–firm (as April put it). “It’s like Dwayne Johnson in a roasting filet mignon gravy,” she said. I knew instantly she was kin folk.
The third bottle was okay, but when I bought the bottle and took it home, I noticed it tasted better the next day. Having spent the night in the fridge, the wine was like licking chocolate mix from a bowl. It reminded me a lot of the Côtes du Rhône wines I drank at rock bars in Paris.
April reminded me of the girls I ran with in New York—cocked feathered fedora, skinny jeans with a “Jesus Rocks” baby-tee and a woven rattan handbag. She was fierce—a tall, lean brunette with pungent French Rivera blue-green eyes, deep, almond skin, black stallion, silky, waist length hair in two whimsical braids. And she had a thick Bensonhurst-Brooklyn accent. We laughed about having very Irish last names, but having very un-Irish backgrounds. April is Italian and Moroccan.
“Dude, I love your blog,” she said, her perfectly straight, gleaming white teeth slightly stained by her peach lip gloss. “You should write a book. I’m a writer, too.”
April seemed to have achieved the artist’s dream of plantation-less, financial independence. She sold vintage clothing on her very own website where she also maintained a really funny, sexy relationship blog called Closed For Renovations. And she loved wine. Like me she had a jones for anything Rhône. This became a typical dialogue between us:
“April, just got an e-mail from W Wine Boutique regarding a southern Rhône they’re selling for $11. The description is crazy—dark fruit, sage. I’m gonna buy a bottle for us.”
“Yo, Dude, please. Bring it to my condo, and I’ll light up the grill. I got some lamb chops and I’ll just whip up some crazy sauce with smoked paprika, olive oil, Dijon mustard. I’ll just feel it out.”
April reminded me of my mother. Cooking was just a natural art for her. Any time she said she was “whipping something up,” I knew she was about to turn my palate inside out. She grew up in the restaurant business. Her parents owned an Italian Restaurant and grocery in Little Italy, New York, so I guess flavor combinations just came naturally to her.
Five months went by and it was like I had a new man in my life. Despite the weight of a lagging career, a gasping publishing industry and filing temp jobs, I suddenly moved sprightly. We started linking up for after work wine spliffs and glasses of wine at Michy’s, and after a few conversations, we realized that we might have crossed paths in Brooklyn as we frequented the same venues—Café Lafayette, Reggae Fridays at The Paul Roberson Theater, Junior’s, Astor Wines, etc.
April loved food and wine like I did. She was from my species, so I didn’t have to worry that I was talking too much about some Rachael Ray 30 minute meal recipe I tried, Oreos or my erotic affection for Côtes du Rhône. I loved the frisson of hearing about how April added Tinto de Toro to her San Marzano marinara sauce and how she was literally aroused by it.
And, then like all good things, the bottle cracked:
“Dink, I have this pamphlet I picked up at this Spanish wine tasting I went to in New York a few months ago. It describes the Toro wine region and why it’s the new hot spot. Here, I want you to have it. But you should really read it. There’s some interesting stuff about the producers, etc.”
“Thanks, Hon. This isn’t a pamphlet. It’s a dictionary,” I responded heartily. “I mean, I have a lot going on with the column, the blog, making money, school, but I’ll definitely read it when I get a chance.”
“Oh, no worries. You can have it. Read it when you can.”
A week later I got an e-mail from April asking me if I read “the pamphlet.” Okay, no biggie. I’ll just say , “No” and run down my short term, “To Do” List… again. Then, when I met up with her for a late lunch one Friday evening, I noticed her energy was off—one-word answers, not looking me in the eye.
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just had a long day.”
Okay, no biggie. Then, on my drive home, she sent me this text: “Did you read the pamphlet? It bothers me that you just won’t read it.”
My text: I’m sorry, April. I certainly don’t want to upset you, but you know how much I have going on.
Then I received endless text messages and e-mails regarding the pamphlet. I was almost afraid to check my e-mail. One e-mail implied that perhaps, I wasn’t really a reader and that that was why my career was stalled. Another e-mail implied that I was taking her for granted. In the final e-mail, she asked me to return the pamphlet. “Yes, liberation,” I thought. “Please, take the damn pamphlet.”
So, I guess April and I were breaking up. She didn’t call or e-mail as much, and I saw her at a wine tasting at Wine69 with another woman—a blond. When she introduced me to her new boo, there was an air of moving-on-ness as she and the blond (Tammy) sipped Iron Horse Sparkling Wine.
Anyway, before I left, I handed April the pamphlet that was wrapped neatly in Victoria Secret pink wrapping paper.
“Oooooh, I almost forgot,” she said.
A dame, a bottle and a story.