‘No, don’t you dare! You are embarrassing me,’ squeals Mandy. Nicky throws a friendly wicked smile at Mandy and continues.

‘That means she got taken on top of a burlap bale,’ we see Mandy’s face turning water melon red.

‘Ouch, that’s got to scratch your sweet little booty good!’ It’s Christine again.

And while we are trying to imagine Mandy getting burlaped, the girls break out in a roaring chorus of a laughter, joined by Leisha and Ken, and then also by us while poor Mandy tries to hide her still reddening face behind the shield of her hands. The rest continue with how about, and throw at us some more Bootling slangs, such as Bucky Walter, Horn of Zeese, and Bal Gorms.  They mean public telephone, cup of coffee and good food.  And not to forget Madge and Moldunes meaning a whore and big boobs. Madge because in the days past, a woman called Madge ran the local bordello. Moldunes comes from the early Hippies that had migrated to the region and their women let their pendulums hang out and down – braless. There’s a story behind all of them and there even exists a book or two to keep the lore alive.  While we’re all having lots of laughs interspersed with different Pinots,  Sally somehow seems withdrawn, lost and a bit out of it. She is directly in the line of my vision and I can’t help but notice and observe the sadness settling on her face.

‘Poor Sally here, she’s sad tonight.  She just broke up with her boyfriend of  two years.’ Interjects Mandy, probably to shift the attention from her being blanketed on the burlap. But realizing that perhaps she has touched upon a raw nerve, the girls switch back to talking about their wines.

While I am busy conversing with Leisha, who’s sitting next to me, my attention keeps drifting to the sad face of Sally.  She is the runt of the group, perhaps even youngest and wears shorter hair that hugs closer to her neck. She has been quiet all evening long. She looks so sad that I feel she may just break down and cry. The passive pain of her face  makes you want to caress and comfort her. I see her excusing herself and slowly walking out of the restaurant.

‘She probably needs a smoke and wants to be alone for a while,’ says Christine. I wonder about Sally all alone outside the restaurant, smoking. Something draws me to her and I find excusing myself to go to the john and than casually step outside in the open. Sure enough, she is smoking, leaning against the hood of one of the parked pick-up-trucks.

‘Are you okay?’

‘Yes. Just needed bit of fresh air.’

We engage in small talk. I ask her discreet questions about her break up. She gives me a feeling of being welcoming to have someone to talk with. The night is crisp and clear, the stars are bright and the mountain air is refreshing. Our subdued voices waft in the air like mellow musical notes. The stray light illuminates and deepens the sadness of her face. Us both leaning on the hood, seem to have slid closer. A sweet whiff of her perfume and her gentle breathing feel somehow intimate. I imagine her face tilting and resting over my shoulder, sliding down and buried in my chest. Out lips are so close, fluttering.  We’re at that certain now or never moment of either sealing or quelling of our suddenly awakened ardor.

And then I think of Susan, two thousand miles and two time zones away in Chicago, probably sitting in front of a television.  We’ve now been together for more than two years. Something similar must have been going through Sally’s mind as well. We consciously and slowly retract and step back.

‘It was wonderful meeting and talking to you. Hope you write a nice article about the Pinots.’

I wait until the taillight of her pick-up disappears in the downhill slope.

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