by Cheap Wine Curious
I have lived in big cities all my adult life. The transition to a small rural town in wine country was altogether freeing and confining. The paradox lies in the contrast between blissful anonymity in a densely populated metropolis and the jarring intimacy one has with the denizens of a small town. It’s like a tsunami of friendliness that sweeps you up and leaves you clinging to any palm tree to save your life…of privacy!
The luxury of open fields and mountain vistas can easily be supplanted by the unwarranted hugs and kisses of a drunk neighbor, or the droning neighborly chit chat about fruit trees and coveys of quail. I smile, I nod while I dream of my vodka chilling in the freezer and how good that quail must taste roasted to perfection.
You escape to a bar only to realize after a soulful confession of your recent transgressions that the bartender you entrusted is married to the hair stylist who is the daughter of the council member who is the attorney for the sister of the neighbor who keeps trying to hug and kiss you as you get in and out of your car with groceries. Incestuous.
Nothing could be more alarming when your personage is then confused with someone else in the hamlet. The resulting damage to your identity is now 10 fold to anything a Croatian hacker could do to your credit report.
I soon discovered I had a dopleganger while strolling along the town square perusing all the tourist sundries and restaurant menus. Someone from a convertible Fiat 500 yelled “looking good Monica!” Thumbs up and all. I had no idea what to do so I smiled and curtsied.
A similar curious occasion presented itself while I was at the market poking around the cabbage. A kindly old lady smiled and said, “I have an excellent recipe to trade with you.” I was taken aback but not entirely frightened. “your last recipe for Pancet was terrific!” Before I could refute, she exclaimed “I’ll text it to you.” And she whisked away snatching the head I had carefully selected.
Intrigued by this series of events is an understatement but I refrained from taking things too seriously. I’m sure this person is a lovely woman of discerning tastes and interests. A pillar of the community and certainly I could use her recommendation of a hair stylist.
One morning after devouring a pain au chocolate at the Basque Boulangerie, me and my coffee proceeded to aimlessly window shop. It was still early enough that the shops were not open, but good news, the designer consignment shop was putting out their racks and dusting off their furs. The shop girl was busying herself in the back while I started filing through the reclaimed Diorr, Versaces, Guchi and Channel.
“Excuse me! No food or drinks in the store plah-eeez.” a disembodied nelly voice shouted violently at me from behind a copious rack of Torrie Birch. I sheepishly said “Sure, no problem.” and proceeded to drink my coffee inconspicuously behind the ample piles of Jimmie Chus and Pradda shoes. And then it happened. As I looked at the price tag of an item of interest, I flipped my lid – literally and it splattered all over a Burberrie Poncho size 38.
Shop girl out of sight, I fanned the coffee beads off the “wool” threads and impressed with my work, proceeded to exit. Hastily I proclaimed “Thanks – great stuff – have a good day!”
Quickly I disposed of my weapon in the nearest trash bin, wiped my hands on my jeans and expediently walked on. Did I hear faint cries off in the distance? Was there a familiar nelly voice faintly calling out for me to return? My imagination. Possibly my conscience playing tricks on me. If there was truly serious damage, I would step up and be accountable. Anyone with a penchant for forgeries of designer goods couldn’t be as discerning about a slight discoloration in their poncho that might be identified as a coffee stain or the irregularities of unnatural fibers.
Soon a hear that nellie voice screaming at the back of my head. “Hello there! I think you forgot to pay for this!” The poncho was suddenly in my face faster than a pain au chocolate. A Filipina transexual shop girl was confronting me like a Marine ranger at Guadalcanal.
“I beg your pardon!”
“That’s not all your going to be begging for, you sprayed your coffee on this poncho, ran out of my shop and now you need to buy this. I take cash or check only.”
“What? You don’t have square?”
“Cash or check.” I had barely a penny but several credit cards. Who the hell uses paper currency. This place was definitely in a time warp.
“Hi Monica, is this person bothering you?” A burly bear of a man with a handle bar mustache from the wine shop decided to interject. “If she is I’m happy to hold her while you call the police.”
“Ok, ok, this is getting out of hand! I am not a common criminal, I am perfectly suited to resolve this, let me pay for the dry-cleaning.”
“Not a chance. This poncho is now yours. $246.00 please.” With that price tag, I remembered the shock that caused the clandestine spill in the first place.
“That is not a real Burberry poncho, and even if I wanted it, I would never pay full price, moreover, who the hell is wearing ponchos, it’s so 2012. Might I add, counterfeit goods are illegal, shame on you for profiting from contraband.”
“Monica, this person is getting hostile, I think we need to call the sherif.”
“Hey mustachio, mind your own business. I don’t think you are needed to complete this transaction. Go reconfigure your facial hair before you become as sartorially obsolete as a poncho.”
Burly then said “Hey, you guys look like sisters! Possibly identical twins.”
Monica proceeded to exclaim “hardly, she’s much heavier than I am.”
With this personal affront, I broke free. I heard the screams of capture as I ran through the park past the swing sets. For whatever reason, they chose not to take chase. On the run, and blocks from home, I was now an outlaw.
“I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace.” —George Hanson, Easy Rider