Saturday, February 6, 2010
Trevor in Paris-Part II-An imagined morning with real tasting notes
I awoke to my morning headache in a soft, feathered bed of a non-distinct origin. I checked under the covers and I still had on my boxers and socks, so that was promising. The mystery of my location lacked the titillation of earlier volumes of the same story, but I couldn't restrain my curiosity as to how I got there. My clothes were scattered on the floor, which at least had an air of normalcy. As my eyes gained focus in the under-lit room, I saw my clothes neatly piled on a chair next to the bed. Not good, I thought.
I swung my feet over the side of the bed and the remnants of an incomplete bottle of Billiot spilled to the floor. I stood and the boards creaked as I stepped over various piles of some man's clothes on my expedition to find the bathroom. Fortunately, the place was smaller than it had seemed from the bed and my options were few. With a few tiptoed step, I was at the bathroom door. It was ajar, but slightly blocked and I had to lean my shoulder into it to open it. On the floor lay Henri in various states of undress, his arm draped over a bidet crusted with last night's repast. I am calling him Henri for convenience, not to protect an identity that I have no doubt exists in some other plane of existence. Not that I know his name. I did have a vague recollection of the two of us drinking with a group of ladies. The girls were nowhere to be found now and Henri looked a little the worse for it. I hoped that they had been here, although I would never know for sure.
I relieved myself and snuck back to my clothes, which I donned quickly. I went to the door and began to turn the handle. Something in the back of my mind made me pause and I went back to the bathroom and stood over Henri. I kicked his leg. "I'm going...thanks for the bed," I said in English. His arm slid from the bidet and he growled what was either some guttural French expression known only to the natives or an ancient Gypsy curse. Either way, I was convinced that he was in fact alive and quickly took my leave of the place.
When I got to the street, I had to orient myself. It was a skill I had mastered. I looked up and down the tight street and figured I was somewhere between the Rue des Ecoles and Saint-Germain. I did remember students from last night. It made sense. I hopped on the Metro at Maubert-Mutualité, planning on heading home. I thought better of it, instead getting off at Place de la Concorde and walking up the Champs-Elysées to clear my head. I dug deep in my pocket for a few sou to buy a crepe from a bored looking vendor. My head felt marginally better and I was proud of myself for the effort.
The sky was clear and the sun was higher in the sky than I had expected. I swung off the major thoroughfares and wound my way through the eighth arrondissement to our flat. The door was substantial, rustic mahogany and wrought iron, and I walked up the three steps and gave it a good pull. Across the cold foyer, I entered the lift in which Enrico was already sitting. "Ciao, Enrico." "Ciao, Signore Trevor, comment allez vous ce mattina," he answered in his broken French. "Va bene, grazie, Enrico." "Il n'y pas de quoi, Signore Trevor," he said as I exited the elevator.
I fumbled in my pocket for my keys, relieved to have found them and angry at myself for not having checked for them earlier. The key slid in easily and the door relented without a fight. I walked down the hall and into Frank's room. The knob was cold, but the room was warm. Frank and Sam were spooning under a giant, white duvet and neither moved. I crossed the floor quietly and lay down on the day bed near the window, my back to them. I heard Frank get up. "Gin straight?" he asked. "Water, I replied." I lay there for awhile listing to Sam snore lightly under the great duvet. She didn't move when I got up to follow Frank to the kitchen.
Frank was sitting with a highball glass in front of him. I sat in the opposite chair in front of a highball full of ice and clear liquid. The gin stung my tongue as I sipped it. Frank was a good man. "You said water, right?" he confirmed as he tapped the neck of an empty 1985 Dom Pérignon bottle. "You're a saint, Frank. Empty?" I asked pointing to the bottle of Dom. "Oh yes, absolutely," he said with a smile coming to his lips. "I love that wine. Subtle and sensual with complexity through the whole glass. I love the caramel and the nuttiness." "Yeah," I said, "it's going to be really good some day." The smile didn't leave his lips, but he shook his head softly and said, "It's great now." I didn't argue.
"How was that?" I asked pointing to a bottle of 1988 La Mission Haut-Brion that lay sideways on the kitchen table. "I hadn't had it in a few years and it was much different than I recalled. I remember it as somewhat fat and unfocused and this was anything but that. The nose was herbal, thyme maybe, with really pure Cabernet showing through and that kind of round edge of vanillin, you know?" "Oh, I know." "It wasn't that full in the mouth, although it had good presence and charm. The '88s seem to be shedding their hard shell and I'm finding them to be quite charming Clarets, if you like that sort of thing, which I do. The fruit stayed in the background with a low hum of intensity."
"Low hum of intensity, I like that," I said fingering the condensation on my glass. "My head has a low hum, as well. The gin helps though. Thanks for thinking of me." Frank smiled wryly, looking down at his own glass. We both took long sips and sat quietly for a time as the kitchen grew brighter with the passing of the day.