I ask the question for a second time.
“Now you’re absolutely sure that there is wine in the house?”
Hubby is ‘100% certain’ that there has only been one glassful taken from that bottle of Shiraz.
“…because I swear to God, if we get back, and there isn’t a glass for me I will unravel”
In terse tones, he repeats his conviction that there is at least 500ml of red wine available, and we do not need to divert from our journey home in order to satisfy my craving.
And there the conversation ends. I have to trust him that there is wine in the house because…. well….. that’s what we do when we are in a relationship; we trust each other. We must also avoid irritating our partners by harping on and on. And we must be sure not to alarm them by sounding like a desperate wino. We must be casual about these things.
Just not tonight.
“So where the FUCK is it?” I scream, on arriving home.
Hubby looks genuinely perplexed. “Sorry Honey – I was sure we had some left. We must have drunk it the other night”. He shrugs whilst reaching for the TV remote.
“Bloody bastard – you haven’t got a bloody bastard clue”. I point at him and speak in low monotone. “If you had had even the slightest doubt about whether there was wine in the house you should have said”
Hubby repeats his apology and asks why it is such a big deal given that I am not usually a desperate wino. If there is wine in the house I might have a glass; and if there isn’t – well I don’t have a glass.
But there are just some days when you want one – and I find that the older I get, the more likely I am to want a bloody glass of red wine after a hard days work. Just one glass – that’s all I ever have. Those who know me will vouch for my complete inability to drink more than one glass without my face going purple.
I huff and puff whilst putting my coat back on and when Hubby asks where I am off to, I give him the obvious answer.
“I’m off to get a bloody bottle of wine – from the Spar shop“. The door closes behind me.
But the Spar shop is closed because it’s after 9pm. And the convenience store down by the river is also closed, as is the petrol station.
I am a lone figure, standing in the middle of town and my world has frozen for a second. There is nowhere open to buy a bloody bottle of wine.
There is NOWHERE open to buy a BLOODY BOTTLE OF WINE!
Shall I get a taxi to the 24 hour ‘out of town’ supermarket? No I will NOT! That would truly be the first step onto a slippery slope of desperation.
Will I return to my home empty-handed? No I will NOT because I will find no peace with that decision.
Will I wander into that pub/restaurant over there and ask them to sell me a bottle of wine! Of COURSE I will do that! What an EXCELLENT idea! I am smiling to myself while skipping through the doorway.
There are only a few people gathered in the cosy bar area so I am sure they will appreciate this unexpected trade.
“Could you sell me a bottle of wine?” I say gleefully. And in a lower voice “to take away please“.
The barman has some bad news for me.
“I’m sorry but we’re not licensed to sell alcohol for consumption away from our premises” he says apologetically.
I try not to show my dismay. Think, think, think – I can still do this.
I sigh and tell him that its a shame. “It’s for a friend you see; I am going to visit her and I promised to bring a bottle of wine but I left it too late and now everywhere is closed“.
Barman seems to be thinking about it so I add a bit more persuasion. In a tinkly voice I add “She’ll kill me if I turn up without it – you know what women are like when they need a glass of wine – Ha Ha…..”
He sees me. He sees beyond my mask. It’s in the eyes and I can read his mind as he tells me firmly that I cannot take a bottle of wine away from this bar. “Don’t give me that ‘it’s for a friend shite'”; he says silently. “Do you think you’re the only one who’s tried this line in order to secure an illegal off licence sale of wine? Do you think that I don’t see a trail of middle aged women down here in their ‘post 9pm’ desperation.
But now I don’t care what he thinks, because I have another plan.
I look at him shamelessly. “Tel me – if I were a customer, would it be acceptable for me to take that cosy seat in the corner and order a bottle of wine?”
Another member of staff steps into the bar area. A stern looking woman who I suspect will give the order for me to be removed from the premises.
“Everything OK here?” she says.
The barman knows that he has done nothing wrong. “The lady here would like us to sell her a bottle of wine to take away but I have told her we can’t do that – and now she has asked if she can drink it over in the corner instead“.
“I never said that” I choke out the words. “I accept that I cannot remove an unopened bottle of wine from these premises but I merely questioned whether you would serve me a bottle of wine as a ‘sit in’ customer”.
Stern lady is reading between the lines. And in the meantime, the other customers are looking over. Please God do not let anyone recognise me. All I wanted was one … ONE … glass of wine. Instead I have brought untold shame on myself.
Stern lady needs more information. “So are you going to drink the bottle of wine in the corner or are you planning on leaving the premises with the bottle? I have to open it and serve it you know so it may not be that easy for you to take away – if that’s what you are planning on doing?”
The whole bar awaits my answer. And for me it’s ‘nothing ventured; nothing gained’. The secret is to act confidently.
“I will have a small, quick glass in here and then I will request permission to take the remainder of the bottle away – for my friend – who needs it” I say boldly before trying to distract them with a compliment.
“And my goodness me!” I point up behind the bar. “What a lucky break! You actually have her favourite wine up there on the shelf. Yes, that French one! You don’t see that one everywhere but here it is”.
Stern lady tells the barman that she will deal with this. The other customers in the bar return to their conversation and now it’s just me and her. She reaches for the bottle of French wine and then leans forward to speak to me. Up close, I can see that she is a similar age to me, which may just change my fortunes if…….
“I shouldn’t be doing this” her words are like music to my ears.
“But I know the feeling when you and your friend just want a bloody glass of wine. So I’ll wrap it in this bag here but please keep it concealed until you are well away from here. Strictly speaking I should be opening the bottle too but I won’t. You can take it as it is”
I am beyond grateful.
“Thank you” I whisper.
“Now that will be £48 please – do you want to pay with card or cash?”
Christ Alive! I have never spent that much on a bottle of wine – EVER! I gulp at the cost but I can’t not buy it now. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that it might be an expensive bottle and that I would be paying ‘restaurant’ prices for it anyway. I need to stay cool though. This is a good thing because desperate winos do not opt for expensive wines. In fact, this purchase makes me a rather classy lady.
I thank her again before strolling back out the door with the booty in my hands and my head held high.
When I get back home, Hubby is up at the door like a shot.
“Where have you been? You’ve been gone for ages. I was worried”
I tell him that my search for wine was longer than anticipated due to the lack of convenient convenience stores. He looks relieved. Not only am I back home safely but I also have the bottle of wine that I so desired.
He opens the drawer and takes the corkscrew out. Then he reaches out to take the wine from me but I turn away and clutch the bottle to my breast.
He looks puzzled. “Give it here, honey and I’ll open it. I thought you were desperate for a glass“.
“At £48 a bottle?” I snort. “You must be joking. Oh no – this one is far too expensive to drink on a Tuesday night. I’m saving it for a special occasion. Now stick the kettle on will you!”