Life’s greatest truths are indeed revealed through wine.
On today, my 51st birthday, I am sipping a gorgeous cabernet sauvignon while snow falls gently outside. Through the window, winter twilight descends as twinkling stars push the receding pink and purple clouds toward the dimming distant sunset. The room is quiet except for the occasional crackle of a lazy shifting log sparking golden embers in the fire.
My dog is snuggled against my side in our worn leather chair. Warm and safe, lost in his own thoughts of chasing a squirrel, or humping a pillow, or digging a hole, or whatever the fuck dogs think about.
Wine is sensuous. Rich raspberries on the lips transition to dry smoky oak in the throat. Gentle heat fills your chest as your head thickens and swims in a viscous tranquility. The moment is transcendental. Your pulse slows, and thoughts wander into the universe in search of understanding and meaning.
And then the dog farts. Loud.
The silence is rent asunder. Not a normal fart either – a nasty, greasy stank fart. What did he eat? And the blanket you were sharing is now damp. It wasn’t wet before. What the hell? Did his anal glands express, too? Whether driven by guilt, or an instinctive fear of retribution, the dog immediately scuttles off the chair in search of safer quarter.
Startled, I flail, spraying the precious garnet elixir all over my great grandma’s antique white couch. Painstakingly built by my great grandfather as a wedding gift to his Russian mail order bride, Oxana, “The Davenport” has survived the generations through meticulous, virtually sterile segregation and diligence. Now this curated artifact looks like crime-scene evidence following a heinous stabbing.
As the wine permanently permeates the pristine, preserved fabric, destroying decades of assiduousness, I am certain my mother will disown me for ruining this beloved family heirloom. “Your sister would have never let this happen,” Mom will inevitably say. Said more plainly, “You douche. You have destroyed our family history. You are no longer loved.”
In the calm that follows the chaos, clarity prevails. I laugh. At first it is a nervous giggle into my hand as I stare at the carnage. This quickly devolves into me laughing from my toes at the sheer absurdity of it all – the misplaced hyper-sentimental nostalgia, the missed connection to something tantrically cosmic, the hilarity of a simple dog fart.
As of today, I have orbited the sun for 51 cycles. In those 18,615 days, I have collected insights into life that wine has helped elucidate. With that much time passed and wisdom amassed, I thought I would take precious celebration time away from my corporeal family and friends to share the 10 most important lessons I have learned over the last half century (plus one) with you, my invisible cyber friends.
- Idioms are confusing. “Less is more.” Uh. Sure! On a cold winter night, take a blanket from Rabies Randy, a sleeping homeless guy under the highway overpass. Let me know how that works out for you. Imagine how invested Rabies Randy is after the months spent creating that “blanket” from dozens of discarded paper bags, bound together with love by several more months of congealed rabies foam and saliva. Make sure to journal that experience for posterity’s sake. If your hands are of no use, dictate it.
- “Money can’t buy you happiness” is total bullshit. A luxury trip to an amazing exotic destination? Yeah. That sucks. Stay home and eat leftovers. Much more fulfilling. Better yet – stay home, eat leftovers, and watch someone else take that amazing exotic trip on cable.
- Safety is very important. Ask Maslow. “There’s safety in numbers” is a particularly true idiom when you are using those people for safety as a human shield against an attacking horde of zombies. We are one mutated coronavirus away from that happening. Start formulating a plan now to expand your group of “friends.”
- “Your body is a temple” is a sacrilegious health mantra. Does that imply that tattoos are graffiti? Has the temple therefore been desecrated? If I fart, does the temple lost some sort of spirit? Is that an exorcism? How would I know? When I eliminate waste, is that a daily restoration project? The lining of my digestive tract is like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? So much to consider, Michelangelo. A lot of pressure, too.
- Take your time to understand every major world religion. Don’t commit to anything until you are 100% certain it is the one true religion. Clearly a large majority of people are wrong, and a small minority of people are right. Use your brain, because anyone who truly believes in their “one true” religion will use their heart. Taking that path will only lead to agonizing heartache when the aliens land and universally disappoint everyone with the actual truth.
- Love your partner with every bit of your being – heart, mind, and body. Be vulnerable and sensitive. Communicate openly and listen with the intent to understand and empathize. Hold their heart gently in the ethereal hands of your entwined souls. But, if that person is not currently in your life, go ahead and fuck every person you can. Fuck them with reckless abandon and selfish gratuitousness. Lean into it and leave them with a lasting memory of your encounter and a lasting fear of ever riding a horse again. Shag ’em rotten. Stephen Stills knew what he was saying. “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
- Relentlessly control your children. Over-parent the shit out of them until they bow to your will. Freedom is vastly overrated. Obedience is a lost art. Trust me; they will thank you later and pass this gift along to their children, their children’s children, and so on. Subsequent generations later, their great-great-grandchildren’s grandchildren will be born into a brave, new world where everyone is finally the same, conformity rules, creativity dies, and a few elite rulers will tell them the best way to wipe their own asses. Sieg heil and auf Wiedersehen, assholes.
- Formal college education – didactic learning – has a limited shelf life. The college experience, though, is priceless. Living independently, learning to speak to strangers, thinking critically, and strengthening reading and written communications are part of that experience. Doing keg stands, dealing with chlamydia, using recreational drugs, choosing the best bars, and getting fatter will round out that experience. Cannot tell you how many times those keg stands have been a hit in the Corporate boardroom.
- “Fat is temporary, but ugly is forever.” You can lose weight any time, but what can you do about ugly? Not a lot. Better work on that personality, handsome. Or accept other equally viable options such as staying indoors permanently, wearing masks in public, getting lost on an uninhabited island, joining the World Association of Ugly People (Google it), or auditioning as the Unknown Comic on The Gong Show (younger audience, Google this reference, too). The world is your oyster. As an FYI, this slogan will also be the first chapter title in my upcoming tell-all, Ten Reasons I Am Better Than You.
- Work is for suckers. Money is a 20th century medium that will soon be obsolete. Learn bartering and negotiating skills. Trading your broken record player for some turnips will be an invaluable skill when capitalism collapses. And who will be the real winner in that transaction? YOU. There will be no electricity to play the records with. But you can boil those turnips over a good old-fashioned fire anywhere, anytime.
I have drunk a lot of wine over a vast span of time on this Big Blue Marble to arrive at these 10 truths about life. Sometimes when the ideas were not fully developed, I would drink some extra wine, and eventual clarity pervaded. Sometimes I rocked myself to sleep clutching an empty wine bottle, the abject enormity of it all filling me with despair.
The only thing I ask from my readers is to see these lessons as absolute truths. These are not some quippy cute guidelines or suggestions that can be easily discarded. They are fact. If you are not abiding by these tenets, you ought to reexamine the very nature of your own existence.
Begin that process by drinking some wine in front of a winter twilight, the fire crackling as your essence begins to expand into the universe. But fuck the dog. Not literally. Figuratively, you perv. Keep that flatulent mutt caged in the basement with a muzzle. That way you can enjoy your astral evening.
“The world was moving she was right there with it and she was. The world was moving she was floating above it and she was. And she was.” – Talking Heads
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