Lifting the veil of nets is equivalent to “you may kiss the bride” and after the celebration, after the guests have left the marriage will be consummated inside, behind closed doors. It’s a sultry end of August evening and the vintner returns home from work. He slips into something more comfortable, walks into the wedding chamber and unbuttons, then removes his shirt not wanting to stain it. As a magician pulls a cloth off a dining table without moving a plate or spilling a drop of wine, the experienced winemaker yanks with authority the bedsheet covering the bride to reveal her full nakedness and vulnerability lying underneath. The time has come. The vintner guides his tool with his hand pushing it against the membrane then shoves, presses, pushes again with a bit more force. The result is as inevitable as young girls growing up and marrying and the vintner’s staff breaks through the layer of grapeskins to the ever so warm lava and he penetrates deeper and hits her backwall and when he pulls it out the skin is broken and the next thrust practically glides in and he holds it deep and retracts then starts a steady rhythm of pushes, thrusts with nectar from the world’s sweetest fruit surrounding his staff. And now the man, shirtless on this balmy summer night, has his rhythm going punching, thrusting, pushing and he hears waves from the ocean and the crash of splashing liquid and a fountain of bubbling, foaming juices and he gently slides his finger into the hole and feels the yeasty warmth of the bubbling fermentation and he pulls it out and licks the sweetest of juices and he is pleased. Fruit of the vine. Ambrosia of the gods. A gift from God to mankind for all eternity, amen. And, he’s back making steady thrusts for he knows he has a few more minutes and he works at the sides of the trough making sure to touch every spot and his muscles are working, drops of sweat appear on his brow, biceps bulge, the dog is barking, triceps ripple and he takes his tool and plunges it as deep as he can into the middle of the vat, slips and falls into a purple bath covered in grape juice and he’s laughing. All his adult life he has attempted to re-enter a womb – and he has succeeded. As he climbs up from his frothy grape juice bath his dog licks his face. All he can do is laugh again at his silly self and command the dog not to jump in.
After cleaning himself and laying down to sleep he achieves a higher level of consciousness that winemakers for generations, for centuries, since the beginning of time have known – there is nothing more erotic than punching down the cap of skins of fermenting wine. The next morning when punching down again he films himself, shirtless, mano a vino, and emailed the footage to the three muses, who were mildly aroused as each watched her suitor thrust his tool through the skin and with the skill of a sensuous man make love with a batch of wine with such finesse that their under garments grew damp. Afterwards, Bootlegger hung the darkly stained sheet out to dry as proof that the marriage had been consummated. Every morning and every evening for the next seven days he made love in this way to the wine, without falling into the vat. He vowed that he next time he found himself in the middle of a hot tub of fermenting grape juice he would be kissing, caressing, holding, squeezing the love of his life and not licked by a dog.
Nothing is more erotic than punching down a cap of grapes. Except for, perhaps, watching a woman do it and he was inspired to walk over to Cougar Karrianne’s to see if he could assist her with her punch downs and texted her he was on the way. She looked tired. “How are you?” he asked.
“I’ve got a terrible yeast infection,” she smiled. He knew enough not to inquire further.
By the fourth evening of this ritual honeymoon Bootlegger was starting to feel a little tired and by the end of the week this labor of physical love for the grape was becoming more like work. And yet, with the beginning of each winemaking season, it was exciting as sharing secrets of the karma sutra with a partner for the first time, breathing each other’s life force, embraced and intertwined – as tightly wound together as a grape vine clinging to a strong pole.
Of course there was bottling when you plunged the cork into the hole of the bottle with the corking machine which was about as obscene as winemaking became and then there was pressing the wine, kachink, kachink, kachink, back and forth, back and forth with the ratchet press atop a wooden basket and watching the Cougar with her little grunts press with her tiny yet almighty torque was also a treat. But the best was fermentation and breaking the skin of the cap for the first time and the gushing sweet lava. Punching it down was calming and the cares of the world disappeared, at least for the moment. What was that on the radio about Bear Stearns? Who cares. What was that about Lehman Brothers? Something about credit default swaps. All that could wait as he was absorbed, hypnotized, entranced by the wine.
On the other side of Blue-Merle Country Joe the Wino called an extraordinary weekend meeting of his board of directors at the first sign of economic turn down. It was as clear to the board as a satellite photograph of a category 5 hurricane that an economic storm of historic proportions would soon wreak financial chaos. Their course of action was decisive. They made plans to cut their workforce before the downturn hit. By trimming now, they would survive. And they would follow Machiavelli’s advice that if cuts were necessary, they would cut deeply and huddle, wrap their philanthropic arms around the remaining staff. At the same time at other board rooms in San Diego County, Garry Ridge, the CEO of WD-40, Ken Blanchard, head of the Blanchard Companies and other businessmen who practiced “Servant Leadership” saw the same warning signs, the same storm, the same approaching disaster and asked themselves how the hell can we get through this downturn with all staff intact?
When Bootlegger turned 16 years old his parents told him to get a job and he found work as a busboy at a French restaurant and developed a taste for fine food and fine wines and salty humor as he worked with men and woman twice his age. One night, Brendan the head waiter asked the staff, “What’s the difference between panic and terror?”
“I don’t know,” replied the 16-year old virgin.
“Panic is the first time you can’t come twice,” answered the Irishman, “And terror is the second time you can’t come once.” As Bootlegger reached the age of his former colleagues and beyond, he often thought about them . And that joke of Brendan’s came back to him the morning he removed the sheet from the nuptial bed of the fermentation to find his bride frigid. The fermentation had stopped. Early. She wasn’t done. He had a ton of grapes that tasted somewhere between hard cider and Manischewitz that had unexpectedly stopped fermenting. Terror.
(C) Copyright 2015 Craig Justice All Rights Reserved.