It is the end of another month and thus time for another installment of the Ohmygod saga (the previous installments: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Five ‘B’, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven–or you can check them out in the menu up top). As you will recall, I used to be a cycling tour guide in Europe for several years. Through that job (yes, it is a bit difficult to call it a ‘job’) I met countless interesting people and have a few compelling stories to tell, but most of them pale to the story of Ohmygod, one of the clients that I had for two weeks. Some may wonder about the moniker, but the name chose itself really; it is what I uttered repeatedly during just about every interaction with him.
In the previous installment (Part Twelve), as I was leaving the town of Amboise, I was unceremoniously run over by our fearless anti-hero who quickly vanished. I caught up to the other two in the town of Vouvray for a wine tasting where they filled me in on their little secret.
As Grumpy and Mr. Personality were practically rolling around on the floor laughing at my expense, I tried to fill in the tasting room attendant–the two coconspirators were making quite a scene. Even though there were just a few others in the room, I felt the need to provide an explanation to minimize the “loud American” fallout (the irony, of course, is that Grumpy is a Canadian–they are the first to distance themselves from the Yanks when it is advantageous, but when they are acting like fools…).
Although I knew his name name (Yves), I had little doubt that he did not remember mine, but I had been to the winery several times and he certainly recognized me by sight. As I started the abbreviated yarn, he had that somewhat uncomfortable smile as if to say: “I know what you are saying is supposed to be funny at some point, and I am ready to chuckle, but you have not really said anything hilarious yet.” Just as I was getting to the end of the story, it was clear that he just was not seeing the humor. Before I was done, it was clear that I had lost him and he started to walk away, stating that he needed to tend to some of the other customers.
At that precise moment, the door swung open.
Ohmygod strolled in. Strolled is the wrong word. It was more of a glide or a slip or maybe a stumble. He was wearing his cycling shoes, his thick safety sunglasses, and helmet, and as he passed over the threshold he must have seen something to cause him to jerk his lead foot violently to the left just as it was about to make contact with the floor. As a result, he was knocked off balance and started to tumble forward. As he extended both of his arms out to break his fall, his momentum suddenly jerked to a stop.
Somehow, his foot became wedged underneath the closing door. He quickly turned to determine the culprit and then tried to violently jerk his foot free. No luck–his foot remained lodged. He tried again, this time with a little jiggle of the foot followed by a stern tug of the leg. Again, his foot remained securely pinned underneath the door.
I glanced at Grumpy and Mr. Personality and they seemed to be trying to do their best to repress their sniggers, but neither one apparently had budged from their position despite being rather close to the door. As I maneuvered around the duo to go and lend some assistance to the suddenly ensnared Ohmygod, I noticed that he had now adapted a posture that appeared to be some perversion of the downward facing dog yoga position: both of his hands were flat on the floor, as was the crown of his helmet, which apparently enabled him to better survey the situation (despite his prodigious belly).
Yves, who also had been making his way over (with the intention, no doubt of rescuing the door), beat me to the scene. He asked Ohmygod in French if he were alright, but received only a grunt in response. I doubt that Ohmygod understood the question and it is quite possible that the “response” was an involuntary body function.
After assessing the situation for all of three seconds Yves sidestepped Ohmygod, reached out for the door and gently pushed.
It swung open easily.
Ohmygod, realizing that he was suddenly liberated, scrambled to his feet and promptly walked over to the tasting bar, not once acknowledging me, Grumpy, Mr. Personality, or even his liberator. Without removing any of his cycling apparatus (helmet, gloves, safety goggles), he quickly caught Yves’ attention by raising his hand as if he were hailing a cab. Despite being somewhat rudely summoned (not to mention the utter lack of acknowledgement for the “rescue”), Yves still had a smile on his face as he came over to Ohmygod.
“Would you like to have a tasting?” Yves asked in French.
Ohmygod responded, in English.
“What beers do you have on tap?”
Yves could not determine if he was making a joke or not and clearly was perplexed. I hoped to get some support from Grumpy and Mr. Personality, but they had somehow made their escape after the Ohmygod blockade of the door had ended. I leaned over to Ohmygod, close enough so that he could hear my somewhat hushed response, but hopefully far enough to avoid catching a whiff of the stench:
“Ohmygod this is a winery—they only have wine.”
At first he appeared perplexed and seemed to be rehashing the discussion that he undoubtedly overheard earlier in the day when I told Grumpy and Mr. Personality that I would try and meet them here later for a tasting. After a few moments of reflection, it became obvious that he evidently remembered our exchange more clearly since his state of confusion devolved into one of depression.
I encouraged him to try the wines as long as he was there, but he refused, disgruntled, and started to get up to leave.
There are certain points in your life when you realize rather quickly that you just are not as smart as you think you are. This was one for me: instead of shutting my mouth and letting him walk out the door, I felt the need to speak.
“It’s free, you know….”
Ohmygod spun back around and shot me a glance of disbelief to which I responded with a slight nod. His face then lit up as if I had just told him that he just won the lottery or, better still, that his mother was waiting for him at the hotel. He quickly plopped back down on to his stool and actually started rubbing his hands together in anticipation (I had never really seen this reaction in real life—only on Looney Toons).
Yves somewhat reluctantly started Ohmygod along the path that I had just sauntered down a several moments before, starting with a Crémant d’Alsace. I decided that I needed to stick around to possibly mitigate the next eventual train wreck, and once he noticed I was staying, Yves, without saying a word, reached down, grabbed another flute, and poured me some Crémant.
There are few things in the world that I like outside of a nice glass of sparkling wine and next to Champagne, the sparklers from the Loire scratch that itch better than most (they are perhaps tied with Crémants from Alsace). Loire Crémants are primarily made in two regions: Vouvray and Saumur and those from Vouvray are made almost exclusively from Chenin Blanc, one of the more versatile varieties in the world (iChenin can be made bone dry, off-dry, demi-sec, full blown dessert, and sparkling—pretty darn versatile). As I was contemplating my love affair with the bubbles, I noticed that Ohmygod was already done with his first glass. Since, as with most tasting room experiences, Yves would not serve the second wine before everyone had finished the first, I quickly finished my Crémant. I could daydream more at another time—there was no need to prolong this tasting one nanosecond longer than it needed to be.
Yves, perhaps thinking the exact same thought, quickly came by with a fresh stem and the next wine, a dry Vouvray. Most of the time I am tasting, I spit since I had a rather unfortunate incident a few years back when I was pretty sure I was going to die (the exception is sparkling wine—I just hate to spit it out). I reached for the bucket and spit out the wine.
Ohmygod looked at me in horror and after a brief pause, spoke to me for one of the few times without being addressed first: “What are you doing?”
That was it.
I waited for more: perhaps he thought I was being rude. Maybe he actually liked the wine and thought my spitting was an indication that I thought the wine was horrible (it wasn’t); or, most likely, he figured that there was never a good reason to spit out free booze.
The rest of the tasting proceeded fairly quickly and without incident (other than Ohmygod becoming increasingly agitated by the amount—or lack thereof—of the wine being poured). Yves would pour the subsequent wine and Ohmygod would down it as if he were late for a flight. Never once did he ask about the wine, remove his helmet or sunglasses, or belch (thank goodness).
At some point, I indicated to Yves that this was the person about whom the other two had played the cruel joke on me—causing me to believe that he was, well, getting “lucky” on the trip. He quickly glanced at Ohmygod, then back at me. He produced but a wry smile, which made me think that he still did not understand my predicament, disappearing into the back room. Ohmygod took this as a sign to leave, apparently, as he rose from his stool without a word and headed to the door. He approached the door with a modicum of apprehension, as if he were a paper boy approaching a house with a menacing dog.
“This is for you. From me. You are certainly going to need it.”
I expressed my gratitude, we exchanged pleasantries, and I made my way to the door. I looked back to throw him a wave, but he didn’t see me. He was bent over the sink, washing glasses.
Shaking his head.