Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Dead Ethics, Part II

Truth in is not just the Republicans that are ethically challenged.

Last Friday, my Buddy had a bachelor party at Stokes Adobe in Monterey. Fifty bucks a head, bring a bottle of wine. Buddy is a serious wine guy, so I agonized over the choice. I have been at Buddy's house and witnessed the death of countless first growth Bordeaux, infinite Williams-Selyem.....all washed down with decent French champagne. What to do? 750 of '78 Pichon Longueville.....or magnum of Silver Oak '79 Alexander Valley? Killer Bordeaux, but smaller bottle.....vs. Statement Wine, and in magnum for the 20 or so invitees? I went with the magnum.

To make matters ethically worse, it was same time, same day as Stephanie Miller's fundraising appearance for the local Democrats. I had shamed them into charging actual money to see her, and now I was going to be a no-show. But, how often do I get invited to parties, as opposed to working them? Never. So......I hired stand-ins for the Democrats. Wrong move as it turns out.

Upon arrival at Stokes......I found the parking lot packed. I cut through the kitchen.....Chef Brandon looked bitter: "Are you part of this shit?" "Uh, yeah?" Turns out the Brotherhood of the Geeks of the Grape were also having a prix-fixe dinner there that night, and were out in force.

The Geeks of the Grape are an upwardly mobile wine tasting group. No, truth in blogging.....they are already up. There is no more mobile. I was a member back in the day, because......I forget. While my working class friends in the Burgundy Club were kiting checks to buy killer burgundies and get neurotic over high-altitude oak vs. low altitude oak, and unrestrained malolactic fermentation, the Geeks would get rapturous about jug wines....and what was new at Trader Joe's for under $8.

When I discovered that 75% of my yearly dues to the Geeks went to a magazine that mostly showed pictures of Lead Geek Norman Gates in black tie groping the wives of Fellow Geeks (there were no Sister Geeks).....I stopped paying. My attorney and dear friend, Terry McCleery, became the local chapter president and persuaded me to eventually send in a check to stay on the mailing list. I put on the memo line of the check: ''Norman Gates is a Geek!" and forgot about it.

I received a letter by return mail, certified. Turns out that Norman Gates runs the Brother hood of the Geeks of the Grape as a private scam......and cashes all the checks himself. My letter started out:

"Dear Mr. Jones:

As you obviously have no understanding of the meaning of the word ''Brotherhood'', you are hereby expelled from the Brotherhood of the Geeks of the Grape............."

Oh, hurt me......I framed it. Terry offered to sue the bastard......"Good Attorney! Down, Boy!"

Anyway, back to Friday. I fought my way through the Geek crowd lining up for sticky nametags and ordered champagne. My crew eventually arrived, and we were shown upstairs, each of us clutching a bottle. I cast my eyes about: Goats Do Roam....everywhere. Oh, fuck. And me with my Silver Oak. And for this I am missing Stephanie Miller?

Annette the Restaurant Goddess leaped to my aid. I slipped her my magnum (the bottle, the bottle....filthy mind!), and whispered ''Bury it!'' (the bottle........When my Buddy stopped dating Annette we thought he was probably gay.....she is beautiful, whip-smart, capable, calm.....the full package). Stokes had been told that the party might bring ''a bottle or two'' so they had waived the normal corkage fee. Instead, each guest brought a bottle or two. No income for the house, no tips for the waitress, tons of dirty glasses for the crew for nothing, and the deal the chef gave them on the food assumed at least some income from some beverage to cover the rent. Great.

I tried to drag us back to the ethical side of the line by ordering a few bottles of champagne. No one was guest even said, "Why pay their prices? Here, have a glass of Goats Do Roam!" I ran downstairs, grabbed a pint glass and went around gently collecting tips for the poor girl attendant. It was then that I spotted a bottle of Stoly in a brown bag. Kirk the owner was standing by, just shaking his head. The party had gone from uncool to illegal, with Kirk's license on the line.

I felt I had to bail out, so I left in silent protest. A couple of days later, I returned for lunch and to pay for the champagne. Annette refused to let me pay......and she pulled out my Silver Oak magnum from its hiding place, safe and sound.

Yesterday I went back for lunch. I brought Annette the '78 Pichon Longueville. Fair is fair......remember when that was the rule?


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