Carole, a bit older at twenty seven, born in Auxerre, France, scant twelve miles (20 km) from the wine region of Chablis, has been a professional model and for her work has traveled and worked in not only Paris, New York, Zürich, Hamburg and Milan, but also in Tokyo. This adds something to the mix in that both Carole and I are able to sprinkle the conversation with Ohayo Godaimazu, Arigato and Domo Arigato Godaimazu, to get a bit of amusement and a chuckle or two out of them.  And Carole knows her food and wines and is as familiar with the California wines as she is of the French.

As the bowed waiter holds the slanted bottle of the California Chardonnay for Suzi to approve,  she fakes earnestness in  scanning and reading the label. Her eyes moving sideways and up and down the label to make sure that it reads the same as what she remembers to have ordered.

‘Yes. That’s it’. She nods.

The waiter stepping back, swiftly but stylishly drives in the cork screw and out comes the cork with a pop. He carefully and delicately places it in front of her, while balancing the bottle in his other hand. She picks it up as previously instructed, lifts it up to her nose ever so slowly, sniffs it with her eyes dreamily closed, as if she is savoring the fragrance and can really tell the difference. Puts down the cork and signals  for the waiter to pour. With a thimble full, she delicately picks up the glass from its stem, holds it up against the light, twirls slightly the liquid, turns the stem in her fingers, tilts the rim of the glass to take in the bouquet and touches the glass to her lips. The taste of wine swirling in her mouth, she gulps it down and gently puts back the glass on the table, and deftly raises her head.

‘Its delicious!’ Like a connoisseur. We all applaud.

Now it’s Carole’s turn. Still partial to the French wines, she picks a particularly good California Cabernet Sauvignon. The same routine. Waiter standing there holding the slanted bottle. She looks at the label and nods. And the waiter goes through the motions of opening the bottle, pulling out the cork with a pop and placing it in front of her. She looks down at the cork, and then up at the waiter – trying to hold back the laughter wanting to burst out on her face, she lets a slight smile of amazement escape her lips.

‘Just pour Honey. We don’t do this back home!’

© Haresh Shah 2013

Illustration: Celia Rose Marks

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Next Friday, August 2nd 2013

STRANGERS ON THE PLANE

We have all joked, wondered and wished about what it would feel like to join the Mile High Club. As much air traveling as I have done throughout my life and through my Playboy years,  something’s got to have happened during one or more of my trips. No? Well! 🙂

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