THE night before you’re planning to see her 2 hours away, you say fuck it, and head upstate anyway …
So, the boy was incredible after the Hall & Oates fiasco. His kids were arriving for the weekend the next morning, so we lounged as long as we could and then I drove home and continued to nurse both my constitution and bruised ego. As I was flopped on my bed I thought to myself that I should reach out to my friend, the one that I attended shows with the most often, as we hadn’t seen each other in well over a year thanks to COVID; (and hadn’t attended a show together in more than two), I missed her and her family dearly and wanted to see if she was up for a visit sometime in the next couple of weeks.
“But first”, I thought, “More coffee…” so I ran out to the place that has us all hooked on some form of espresso and picked up a refreshing, iced, extremely caffeinated beverage. Not long after I returned to my bed in the similar flop position, she texted me.
“HI! I did a thing…. and since you’re usually up for the spontaneous I thought I’d ask you before anyone else if you’d like to go with me to see Brandi Carlise upstate next weekend, I’m currently attempting to book a very cool looking Yurt about an hour away from the venue because I have a shit-ton of Air BnB credits and I have to use them at some point this year.”
Well. These things, these “coincidences”, seem to happen to me often. I think of something, someone, a situation and not long after (anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks) something which seems very bizarre happens. There it was, my “bizarre coincidence”.
Of course I was in. I had felt bad that I missed her show earlier in the summer at Forest Hills while I was zooming back and forth to Maine for family commitments, so this was an amazing opportunity for so many reasons. Also, I had the opportunity to redeem my sad self after ditching H&O the weekend prior.
We made plans for the following Saturday and I basically lived out the week like a 5 year old trying to make it through the last few days leading up to Christmas. I was nearly giddy. I was so happy to see my friend and be getting out of Dodge for a couple of days.
We were touching base to make final plans the Friday evening before when we both realized around 7 PM that Brandi had cancelled due to “illness”.
Having read her book and seen “From Cradle to Stage”; we were both aware of what that meant. We respected her ability to continue to maintain those boundaries, but couldn’t lie; we were disappointed. However, we refused to let it ruin our weekend to reunite and get away. She has kiddos and I have “life”. We were going to make the most of our cute little Air BnB if it killed us.
It was so nice to reconnect. It really had been too long since we’d seen each other. I’d missed her terribly, as I’d also missed her wonderful, incredibly music savvy and nerdy children. (Her hubby is a pretty good chap, too.)
We got to the place late afternoon and walked around this cute little village that was perplexing as it was adorable. It was clearly extremely LGBTQ+ friendly. There were amazing antique, thrift and second hand shops strewn up and down the main drag. The boutiques were very unique but they were also very “upscale”. There were some very upscale restaurants beside a couple of casual bar & grills …. and it became clear rather quickly many did NOT approve of the more casual establishments, (even though if you traveled more than three blocks off of the main drag in either direction, it was easy to see what the entire town had been before gentrification), but not much indication of what sustained the “good life”.
We shopped and took in the eclectic sights, asked for dining suggestions and finally settled on a place. Dinner was incredible, and though we had both ‘laid off the wine’ over the last couple of months, we indulged a bit that evening. We walked around some more before retiring to the rental and immediately regretting not having picked up a bottle of something to share the rest of the evening.
My friend immediately set to work looking for a secret stash of booze. Sadly, the only thing we found was Rumchata (I think the date on it was 2015) and a sad bottle of white wine containing a glass, at most. With no ability to attain any other alcohol, I told her to go ahead and have the remaining wine, I would be fine. We sat and chatted while re-watching Ted Lasso episodes before retiring around midnight.
Henri seemed determined to dampen our spirits, but we refused to allow that to happen. We got up the next morning and headed into MA to visit an equally quaint town that was home to a gorgeous dispensary, among other interesting little shops. Along the way we did some more catching up and agreed to head back to our rental around Noon to beat the expected heavy rain and winds dominating the headlines.
We both did a little “shopping”, drove the 45 minutes back to our host village and enjoyed a rather gourmet lunch at one of the “casual” dining establishments. By then, she was determined to find a bottle of wine to replace the one she had emptied the evening prior. While shopping at a cute, if not extremely pretentious, wine shoppe we picked up several bottles based upon the owners’ interpretations of what we both tend to drink most often as well as something for the host.
Once back at our Air BnB, we cracked open one of the recommended vintages (it was supposed to be very similar to a NZ Sauvignon Blanc) put on some comfy clothes and searched for a Netflix show to binge. By this time the rain was looking a lot like “movie rain”, coming down in torrid sheets with no sign of letting up. After settling upon the newly released Sandra Oh series “The Chair”, we cracked open a bag of artisan chips (jambon flavored, oh my), hit play and took a sip of the wine that came recommended with such high regard.
What. The. Fuck.
We both had that expression on our faces after the first sip, but understanding that a new wine often requires more than one taste to fully appreciate, we both went in for the second. Our expressions didn’t change.
This white couldn’t have been anything further from a NZ Sauvignon Blanc. First of all, it almost felt slightly carbonated once it hit your tongue. Like, it was pop-rocky. I can’t describe it any better than that. It also tasted very much like grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice mixed with an indistinguishable, high-proof, clear liquor.
We decided that we were going to make the most of it, though. We put the bottle in the freezer, following the simple theory that the colder a shitty wine is, the better it tastes, and were grateful for the ham flavored kettle chips. They balanced out the grapefruit flavor magnificently. In the meantime, we paused the show while we waited for the freezer to do it’s thing; and did a little ABNB sleuthing.
It was imperative to try and figure out who this man was, that owned a lovely refurbished duplex in the Hudson Valley with only a single glass of French white wine and an [old] bottle of Rumchata in his fridge.
He was very tall based upon the shoes we found on a rack near the front door. He had some stylish casual clothes in one of the closets, almost like a modern day Mr. Rogers. We already knew that he was gay and spent most of the week in Manhattan, so I imagined him coming in on a Friday and changing from something out of a high fashion photo shoot into these more casual choices and big, comfy shoes before heading into the village to complain about the casual dining establishments in a secret speakeasy under the boutique hotel.
He was also obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe. Like, stalker-vibes obsessed.
Then, the gummies kicked in and I began to play the game I often do in these situations; and began making up reasons why he’d left a bottle of wine with a single remaining glass in the fridge.
“What if his lover left him and that was the last bottle they had shared before he departed? Maybe it had been a wonderful evening together, dinner and an evening out with friends here in town, they returned home to crack open that bottle and continue their discussion about film noir… things took a passionate turn and they retired to the bedroom. His lover went out for bagels and coffee the next morning but never returned. What was left of the bottle has been in the fridge ever since, he simply couldn’t bring himself to dispose of it.”
She just looked at me.
“OR, what if it was incredibly tragic, what if his husband died and that was the last bottle they had shared together before he was instantly killed by a wrong-way driver? I mean, that’s pretty plausible, it happens a lot in NY State…”
“OR, perhaps our host is a recovering alcoholic and he was leaving that in the fridge to remind him of the last time he drank and why he’d given it up!”
She rolled her eyes, and started laughing. “STOP,” she said. “You’re killing me.”
Of course, I couldn’t, and this went on for most of the evening. Even now I’ll come up with a new scenario and text her yet another tragic reason he was saving a single glass of wine.”
We succeeded in putting away the odd grapefruit wine we’d been sold, discovered that none of the restaurants in town delivered after 7 PM on a Sunday, (especially when it’s raining hard) which meant ordering from Domino’s for the first time since college; and binged the entire series before hitting the hay. A first for my friend since her husband refuses to watch more than two episodes of anything in a row.
On the way home we spent 2 1/2 hours at an enormous antiques warehouse 5 miles out of town. It was filled with amazing treasures; furniture, collectibles, vintage clothing, closeouts and one especially creepy corner that displayed exotic hunting taxidermy. Seriously, it was one of the most bizarre things I’d ever seen; from a stuffed kangaroo, to tiny African mammals and even a full giraffe head and neck. We could hardly believe it was legal to resell these things, but there they were.
We got home a few hours later and honestly, it was one of the best weekend trips I’ve probably ever taken. I’m so glad that we decided to just go and make the most of it even after the show was cancelled. I know plenty of people that would have stayed home, but that’s not how you make great memories.
For me, there’s nothing more valuable than an incredible experience. I always have and always will take that over material possessions. Memories last longer.
Except for Rumchata, maybe.