Thursday, March 8, 2007

House Pour

Earlier this week I stocked the bar at my house. I'm almost ashamed to admit that the picture of those top shelf bottles lined up and glistening in the lamp light made my mouth water a bit. In their midst a bottle of 18-year-old Macallan stands out. This was a stunning gift from a good friend who recently visited from NYC. Its price tag dwarfs the price tag of each bottle surrounding it. It calls out to me, but it's a humdrum Tuesday afternoon, which doesn't exactly qualify as a "special occasion." A quick glance at my mental calendar reveals nothing in the near future, so I look at it's cousin, a bottle of 12 year Macallan, and set a date with it for this Friday night. Call me a two timer, I don't care.

Speaking of special occasions, let me veer off the path (as if I really know where this path is headed) for a moment and share a fun story. We hit many vineyards on a Napa Valley trip a few years ago. This was obviously pre-baby days. One of our favorites was (and is) Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards -- a boutique vineyard that produces some of the most enchanting wines in the league, hands down. A gal in our gang had a connection via her father to the winemaker, Gus, so we received VIP treatment that entailed a tour, lunch at Tra Vinge (he brought his own wine of course), and a thorough wine tasting in the warm and fuzzy afternoon. At the right moment, when we were all miles of smiles, Gus and his wife Phyllis pulled from thin air some literature and order forms, which we gobbled up, racking up crazy credit card miles in the process. At the risk of coming off as some sort of wine snob, the many bottles we purchased in that haze fall into the $50 and up range, so they're "special occasion" bottles, as Phyllis reminded us. Then she said something I will never forget: "If you don't have a special occasion at least once every couple of weeks, you need to get a life."

Back to the present. We're sort of house poor these days, having relocated a couple of months ago from our Capitol Hill starter home to a larger place in DC's Chevy Chase neighborhood. The mortgage payment more than doubled. Add to it that we're dropping $2k per month on a nanny, and the financial picture is tight. A considerable but manageable snarl of consumer debt makes things even more interesting. Ordinarily I'd be dialing up my mother, asking her to send me her surplus supply of Xanax, but oddly I feel rather liberated by the whole picture. I mean, it is what it is. I remember being broke in college and still managing to have a great time every night with little worry or hand wringing. Having little-to-no money, or in this case feeling compelled to live within our current means, rather simplifies things. Admittedly, if Jack was not around, we'd probably feel less inclined to be so responsible, but he's here, perhaps to save us from our crazy selves.

All that said, our choice is nothing but vivid and clear: go out drinking less and drink at home more.

Many of our friends also have kids. It's encouraging (though slightly disturbing when I consider how "adult" this makes us) to chat with them and learn that they also pay attention to their lifestyles and financial pictures. In fact, the idea of house parties has circulated and been received with open arms in our circle. Sometimes I wonder who the hell we are kidding though. In theory it sounds terrific. In practice, well, we'll see.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, which brings me back to that stocked bar in all its glory. Maybe this weekend or next we'll get a crew over for drinks, pour a few splashes of that Macallan 18 and see just how special we feel.

No comments: