For as much as I manhandle my hometown of Hooterville, I try to make the best of a less-than-perfect situation. It’s not making lemonade out of lemons, rather working with what is available. Not many events during the year spark my interest more than the annual wine festival held in the park.
I like wine. Who am I kidding? I like all sorts of alcohol. This was a bit of the action I missed from the east coast. It isn’t huge by any means (6 wineries), and was almost shot down due to protests of alcohol consumption on park grounds but it’s something. The arguing has become a dull roar this year, but there were serious concerns it would buckle because a few 80 year-olds wanted to pick a fight.
Before the festivities started, I stayed out of the sun in a park shelter near the front gates. It’s also catty-corner to the city pool, which many residents were using to its fullest extent that day. Upon entering the structure, I found myself being eyed by a “father” of three sitting on a bench smoking a Marlboro. Not enjoying the gawking, I took up a corner of the place and made the necessary texts. Shortly thereafter, I hear, “hey. hey dude. hey.” Realizing the sterling example of refinement was addressing me, I looked up from my phone. We exchanged rote pleasantries then he proceeded to ask with a face as lifeless as Crisco, “are you a cop?” As many could imagine, this caught me off guard.
“No, why do you ask?”
“Well, you stand like one…” he trailed off into a sea of awkwardness.
I decided just to let it go. Unsurprisingly, my party was running severely late. My desire for the probable high school drop out to take a hint began to grow. Fortuna was feeling frisky that day though.
“Hey. Hey man. Hey. Hey,” I heard over the din of small children screaming.
“Yes,” I said in a calm manner.
“Do you have $5? So, I could take these kids to the pool.” A hillbilly creepiness came with that statement which didn’t set right with me. After that moment of pizzicato violin strings, I let out a “no” which was surprisingly quiet yet conveyed a sense of peace in the decision. This seemed to send the boy into a stunned silence.
That was enough for me, and I headed out to stow my sun tan lotion and bug spray. The rest of the wait time was burned while walking to my car and back. Had the kid not figured out the cigarettes he was smoking cost the same amount of money? So, cigarettes are a higher priority than his children? Stay classy, Hooterville.
The rest of the day was filled with mid-grade or lesser red wine and overpriced hors d’oeuvres ($9 for 9 pieces of cheese and Keebler crackers!). The best glass I had tasted like a pepper shaker and the worst would be more suited to Midwestern, 50-something women cruising Lake Erie listening to Christopher Cross. In other words, it tasted like the melted remnants of cherry Fla-Vor-Ice. I gagged a bit, but flushed it out thoroughly with water.
Was it the best day of my life? Not exactly, but it was certainly better than staying at home.