It’s another day in the neighborhood. The sun is out, the children are etching stupid pictures into the sidewalk with fat chalk, dogs are going nuts. Wonderful. What a day, right? I wish it would shut up. Anyway, here’s a horror story for you. It involves a wine tasting, a bit of presumption, and a whole hell of a lot of toes.
Ten minutes ’till, the bar was relatively clear. A mid-forties something or other, maybe a secretary? judging by her blonde, vague “I need this glass” expression and her safe, gray and black vest/jean combo sat placidly at the corner of the bar. I made a conscious decision to sit on the opposite end. I had been enticed by a sign on the door to enter, an advert reading “flight – $10.”
The granite counter top hosted a plate of various cheeses and cork chips screwed loose by a lonesome wine slinger, serving two ounce pours to would-be master Sommeliers, like myself. I had intended to be a master, to walk amongst the greats (whose names are forever lost to legend) and to hear the lamentation of the vine each and every time my feet set foot on French, Italian or central coast California soil.
When my first wine arrived, I averted my eyes and told the server to keep it a secret. I would have none of her truth.
“You can keep it!” I exclaimed.
“Keep what?” she asked.
With the stemless glass firmly in my hand, I gave the somewhat straw-colored wine a swirl, watching as its legs ran slow down the edge of the glass. Then, bringing it to my nose, I sniffed as hard as one would imagine sniffing during a sniffing competition.
“Ah, truly this is a Sauvignon Blanc.”
“Correct,” she responded with a coy smile before pouring me the next.
“Do you work out?” I asked, my eyebrow raising of its own accord.
“Oh yes. I squash every grape for every bottle I serve.”
“Is that so? Are there special shoes you wear?”
“No,” she said as she bent over. “I use my bare feet.”
I let the aroma of the new wine fill my nostrils and the distinct funk of foot suddenly saturated my palate. I realized that for some aficionados, funk is a trait associated with fine wine — and so I took a guess at the vintage.
“This… this is a Syrah, from Napa.”
She smiled again as she looked up from where she had bent over to untie her shoes.
“Wrong,” she said. “Guess again.” As she removed her shoes, I contemplated.
“Cabernet,” I responded. “From Alexander Valley.”
“Nope,” she removed her socks.
“I give up.” I said, finishing the glass.
She took one step forward and, lifting her leg as a black belt in Ju Jitsu would were he to snap an opponents spine, she dropped her heel onto the table. Before me sat a foot the size of a tennis racket, toes webbed by what appeared to be a gelatin like substance, each digit numbered and graded by weight and width with tasting notes written where the toe connected to the joint at the base of the platypus-like arc. Robyn Porker rated her fifth toe a 93, suggesting it echoes the memory of traipsing down a dusty path between old vines while consuming raspberries by the handful.
“Every vintage has the unique essence of my foot,” she said.
“What the fuck, lady!”
“Every glass is a voyage into the inner workings of my soul.”
I stumbled away from the bar just as I noticed that the rest of the patrons were somehow cats.
“I call them La’Feet Toeschild.” She began to laugh, though nary a joke had been told.
I paid my tab and left the winery, promising to never return. Later that night, as I lay in bed rethinking the day’s events, I couldn’t help but admit that the La’Feet Toeschild had been the best vintage I had ever tasted, with a complex character and lingering body. Notes of chocolate, oak and cassis danced on my tongue even two hours after the initial tasting.
Later, in a mad fit, I would write about my experience for the New York Times. Days before publishing, however, I succumbed to an inner foot fungus and passed away. Only cats attended my funeral.
Well, I suppose he got his foot in the door of the afterlife. That’s something. Tune in this week for horoscopes, detective stories and possibly a recounting of a bad date from a guest author. Who knows! Everything is weird.