Surely, you’ve heard the expression ‘You can take the girl out of Long Island, but you can’t take Long Island out of the girl’?

Plead ignorance on that if you must, but it is a truism if ever there was one. Along with enhancing my innate predilection for strip malls, spandex and merging ‘ing’s with the next vowel, returning home to the Mother Land (or “Muthuh”, if you’re a local) allows me to romp among the fields of plenty.

I’m actually un/fortunate enough to hail from the East End of Long Island. Fortunate because I remember being able to walk my dogs for three miles and seeing a handful of cars, unfortunate because that’s so far gone that I can’t turn out of my dad’s driveway on Main Road in Aquebogue without hitting a back-up of traffic.

Anys, I returned to the native land this weekend to visit Big Pop, who’d recently had a major surgery, and my brother, who is planning his triumphant return to Japan. Throw in a dash of ‘boyfriend-meeting-the-fams’ action into the mix and you got yourself a smoothie chock full o’ nutritious dysfunction. 

We arrived in Aquebogue during the late afternoon and my father was remarkably up and ambulatory. I prepared Paul well in advance and armed him with plenty of mental-padding: Do not be surprised if you find a bird landing on your shoulder/ goat eating your cuffs/ ferret crawling up your pant-leg. Sure, he was a bit scared, but that was part of the adventure. Things were remarkably calm when we arrived, save Ophelia, the manic Chocolate Lab who has an urgent need to makeover anyone and everyone with the exact shade of mud she’s sporting. Generous, she is.

We kicked around a bit and swapped stories from back in the day, including “Hey, remember when the cop woke dad up on the front lawn, thinking he was dead and that Seamus (our goat) was eating him?” Which naturally segues into who/what Seamus was, why we had him, and how he came to his untimely end. Which – naturally – segues into Paul looking anxiously towards the door and wondering when, dear God, he can escape…

Thankfully, there is booze growing all around us. We decided to pop out for a bit and visit some wineries. This was admittedly an evil plot to impress my underwhelmed boy, so I dragged him to Pellegrini and Paumanok, my two stand-bys when traipsing about out east.

was interesting. I’d hyped it up so much that even I questioned its
ability to Phoenix itself out of the ashes of my homestead. We pulled
in and the tasting room was pretty hoppin’ for February. We waited… and
waited… and waited… Finally, a woman set us up with glasses and
explained the difference between the wine bar tasting and the flight
tasting (which, honestly, I still don’t think I understand, but ‘tevs.)

rattled off what I wanted to try and noted that I wanted to taste
certain wines side by side. I was corrected, and she noted that she
would pour in order of weight. I noted that I understood that, but I
was pretty sure of what I was doing and felt it would be more
interesting to taste varietal next to its own. We had a slight ego
show-down and I finally tossed down the gauntlet by mentioning previous
vintages, the winery I’d worked in, Lenn, and anything/one/place I
could to ease the tension.

It worked. Not only did we buy far too much wine, but she offered me a job.

Preen? Why, yes.

was Paumanok. I dig it because it’s spittin’ distance from the
homestead and because they used to give me a ‘neighbor’ discount.
Granted that was over 10 years ago (wince) but still. We tasted through
five wines there and we both dug the Cabernet Franc the best, so we
promptly snapped that up, too. Thusly fortified with local booze, we
were able to return to the homestead, bid our adieus, and head towards
Bellport where further delights were awaiting us.

Ok, it was overall a quiet weekend after that. But since Paul’s a beer
geek, we went to Blue Point Brewery, which is inexplicably in
Patchogue, and we got a few decent pints there before pushing on to
dinner at Sage Café. THIS is where shiz got crazy: while waiting for a
table, I heard “Jay…?” I turned and saw a dude I know from Rochester!

kiddos, that’s about it. This is my last week – for now – working in
wine. We’ll see how things unfold beginning Saturday at midnight. Pray
for more time to be devoted to mindless antics and less jaded and
bitter kinda thangs.