Wine bridges generation gaps… , …calling a taxi creates some tension…


One of these other tables is getting rightfully impatient. I hear finger snapping. I don’t like it but attend to the guest at once. He wants his check and he wants it now.

I have this family of four seated at a round table in the privacy of the alcove. The parents are in their late fifties, the daughter and her boyfriend in their late twenties. The father orders a bottle of Champagne, a bottle of white Burgundy, and a bottle of Bordeaux wine. He wants all three to be served simultaneously. I open one bottle after the other, hand each bottle’s cork to the host and pour him a little sip. The daughter is questioning her parents “Where were you when I grew up?” “Don’t give me this! Who do you think paid for your schooling and traveling?” The mother says.
“Some private schools were okay, considering the problems in public schools.”
“Did you read today’s newspaper? Guns in a high-school!”
“That’s nothing. 9-1-1 calls and unscheduled police and ambulance visits to school grounds are not uncommon anymore.”
“We all have to specialize.” Says the father to the young man. He takes his time to taste each of the three wines, while I stand in waiting. He finally approves with a, “Go ahead and pour them whatever they like.” To the young man, in his late twenties, he says “After the bar exam, as an attorney you can probably support your wife and kids in a reasonable good fashion?”
“What kids?” The daughter shouts “Wouldn’t you have to ask me too?” Three have Champagne. It’s the mother who prefers the French Chardonnay. The young man likes the Bordeaux but his opinion is that I should decant it, to let it breathe. I myself disagree but I do not offer any unwanted advice. I take care of another table before I return with a crystal decanter and a candle. The young man wants to see the decanter. He inspects it and rejects this one on the grounds of it being lead crystal. I get a regular wine carafe and slowly pour the wine from the bottle into the glass carafe. There is no sediment, none at all.
“Sex outside marriage a deadly sin?” The daughter questions her mother’s remark about marriage and affairs. “Sex, sinfully good! You are right. Just use condoms.” The daughter voices her opinion and puts her friend onto the spot as she pinches his upper leg asking “What about sex?” He starts blushing and her “Speak up, love, let’s hear your expert’s opinion.” does not help him in front of her parents.
The daughter turns to me. “You look reasonable intelligently! What’s your opinion on sex, children and marriage?”
I do not hesitate one second. I heard her loud and clear but answer, “I’m sorry but I did not listen, the wine is now decanted.” “Allow me to put the carafe on your table.” With an “I shall be back in a few minutes for your order.” I leave their table and take care of my other customers.
The four in the alcove are having a lengthy meal. As their wine consumption increases so does the volume of their voices. At first I noticed the parents’ discomfort about their daughter’s outspokenness and outright rude remarks. They did not agree with their daughter’s standpoints on parenting. They insisted on grandchildren but the daughter argued: “Why should I get married?” “There is no incentive for such!” “Kids?” “Why would I want to sacrifice career and my freedom?” “Why would I want to give up my great figure for a crying, thankless, little monster?”
“Why . . .?”
After a bottle of wine each, they all were getting along with each other. After eight bottles in total they call me their best friend. Now, the father tries to explain the crookedness of politicians to me, while the stepson-to-be assures the mother that they will set a wedding-date soon. The daughter is mentioning Shea and Tyrone as names for her two children. She knows she is going to have both, a boy and a girl.
I catch myself spending much more time with this table than any of my other three tables. One of these other tables is getting rightfully impatient. I hear finger snapping. I don’t like it but attend to the guest at once. He wants his check and he wants it now. I do so and apologize if I kept him too long waiting. My table in the alcove is the last one to leave. I listen to the father’s arguments with his wife “Hon I drive! You are not drunk enough to drive!” The younger man, feeling no pain, offers to drive.
I call a cab and as I see the customers to the door I announce to them: “I took the liberty to call you a taxi to take you to your hotel.” “I strongly suggest you get your car tomorrow.” The younger man, who sober would know better, sounds angry when he questions me, “What d’you mean? Who are you to tell me that I cannot drive?”
I have to calm him down. And I do so with a, “By no means Sir! A friend of mine just called me to let me know that there is a sobriety checkpoint on your route to your hotel.” Addressing all of them I add, “I don’t want you to have to go through the trouble and expense of getting stopped and having to go through a sobriety test.”
“You sure?” The young man asks, now less agitated.
“I know you are okay to drive; yet I don’t think the police knows and they will not ask for my opinion.” I say trying to persuade him too, to agree to the use of a cab. “They, the Monterey police use the rule of anything over two drinks is too much alcohol under California law.” The young man agrees. Both women don’t care who drives. The father thanks me for watching out for them as they get into their cab. I stand there and watch the taxi driving off. I am glad they listened to me.
There is no sobriety check point as far as I know anywhere in town, but I forgive myself for lying as it serves a good purpose, keeping another drunk driver of the road.

by helmut schonwalder