The flight home was uneventful. Yay for the upgrade to first class all the way home. Boo for the weird, jittery behavior as I stood too close to the cockpit door to ask the stewardess for a cookie for my friend Dave stuck back in coach (my upgrade coupons would've worked if First hadn't been overflowing with overprivileged moppets and their Bel-Air parents) - guess she was freaking out due to my large bearded presence just as she was about to open the door to give the pilots some cookies too.
Dan seems to like his super secret special bottle gift. Actually, I think we'll drink it when we pay off the mortgage, so that's going to be 2012. Can't wait. I've already found a nice cool place for it in the wine cellar.
Bonny Doon have shipped their first ever collaborative attempts with a small Tuscan winery. I'd never even heard of the ciliegiolo grape, and now I've got two bottles of it on my desk. The rosato is disappearing this month; the other bottle will lurk until 2005 or so. Still no word on their new Riesling though.
Last night at the California Grill (at the Disney Contemporary Resort), I had what was hands down the second best bottle of wine in my entire life. This was a Gary Farrell single vineyard pinot noir. Long story short, I ordered it, deciding that I would throw all caution to the wind and blow $80 on a single bottle of wine for the first time in my life. (Hey, Dave's friend Luc let us into the parks for free, so I figured I would show my appreciation and get us all a really incredible bottle of wine.) Of course, the waiter came back in a few minutes to let me know that they'd run out, that the last bottle was no longer available. I burst into tears. Actually, I turned on the Pratt charm and moped that I hadn't been able to find a bottle of that wine in twelve years of looking. (This is partially true at least; they always sell out of this one wine, which is $50 a bottle direct from the winery, incidentally.) He then offered to sell us a bottle of something from near the old Deutz property that I didn't recognize - probably because it was really out of my price range - for the same price as the Farrell, which was actually very generous. But wait, there's more!
Five minutes later, he returned with a bottle of the Farrell after all. They'd accidentally uncorked it earlier in the evening. Oooops. He offered to take a few bucks of the price. OK, good. But did I want to taste it first? He poured me a glass, and the smell alone sent a chill down my spine and got me close to teary-eyed. Yikes! Hard to believe something as simple as a glass of wine can have that effect on you. Oh, no, I said, I don't need to taste this. The smell's good enough.
I want another bottle. To anyone who can come up with a bottle of the 1999 Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir: I'll pay you back. Me love you long time, in fact. Damn, that was good.
After dessert, he stopped by with a third of another bottle (leftovers) and offered it to me for $20. I slipped him a $20 and had my way with the rest of the bottle. When it comes to good wine, I have no shame.
The woman sitting next to me on the flight from LAX to SJC was in some kind of strange emotional state. She insisted on trading first names, seemed to be quietly crying into her purse, and only cheered up when I started talking to her about the Pinnacles. I think she was probably scared to death of flying and worried that I was the kind of man who might do something to the plane while in flight. Funny, when I was in coach no one worried, but get within one row of that cockpit door and all of a sudden you almost wish you were clean shaven.
Dave's partner Jason was going to pick Dave up at LAX - they're now allowing private vehicles at the airport - but it was strange: he had to park in the garage before meeting us. You can't stop your car anywhere outside the garage without getting a ticket, but pay your $1, move it six feet over into the garage, and it's okay. Jason was looking really good, and he was driving this extra swank new Sebring convertible, dark blue, top down. Wow. Didn't know the US could still produce stylish cars, eh.
My biggest beef with the whole Orlando weekend was simply the lack of lighting at the bar. It's impossible to flirt with anyone if you can't see them - I mean, seriously, what's the point? I couldn't ever see anyone, so I didn't catch anyone's eye or meet anyone new. OK, there was one exception to that, but in general I felt like I was on the bat tour at Carlsbad. Something smelled funny, the air was heavy and moist, and I felt lots of eyes staring out from the dark. Not pleasant.
A big shout-out goes out to henry mensch for being cool for no particular reason, L. for saying hi for the first time in years (wonderful to see him again), Dave for being the excellent roommate, Ray and Jim for being wonderful dinner partners, R. from Brisbane for effort, S. from Sydney for being an ongoing topic of conversation at great distance, Luc for wit, brains, and a desire to visit Armenia (I'll see you in Yerevan someday), the fine women from Universal at Buca di Beppo who almost showed me their underwire bras for $100, the friendly waiter from the California Grill, the kind South African woman who spoke Afrikaans with me, ignoring my mistakes, the flight attendant who gave Dave a cookie, and to the angry owner of Rock 'n Roll Heaven for telling me (indirectly) how to find the one good CD shop in Orlando.
The "total loser" award goes to the deaf person who showed up at the event without registering, demanding an interpreter and free T-shirt, and yet not offering to pay for the run. (I believe they were a sash holder of some variety and expected the red carpet to be rolled out for them.) Even more obnoxious, he (and his posse) showed up at Buca di Beppo Sunday night, noticed that there were about fourteen Bears eating there already, and tried to infiltrate our party for several minutes, even though there were no available chairs, and even though they didn't know any of us. Folks, that's just tacky. Sorry about the lack of hearing, but your behavior was worthy of none other than Cabbage Head himself. ("Is this because I have a cabbage for a head?")
Over and out,