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I hadn’t seen T in a long time.  How long?  Long enough that his condo had accrued a layer of brightly colored plastic baubles and other loud toys that are safe for a toddler.  I still have not met this toddler, but her impact on his life is difficult to underestimate.

I usually pass on Italian wines.  I either can’t afford them or I find them…dull.  Well, that is, they’re generally quaffable. I don’t think I’ve ever tried an Italian wine that wasn’t at least “ok” but it seems to be quite the effort to find any that rise above mere table wine.  And look, there’s something to be said for a reliable drink that suits nearly any supper.  But the usual montepulciano or sangiovese is a bit awkward by itself; even a bit of cheese or chocolate won’t quite suffice to hide the fact that an Italian red is primarily refreshment to chase one’s meal.

So I can’t quantify the impact of a child (I won’t even try), but I wanted to properly contextualize finding a delicious new wine to appreciate. Colosi’s 2009 Nero d’Avola surprised the hell out of me. Really, I was figuring I might have to pour myself a small glass and leave it on the counter for at least an hour before it filled out to something I wouldn’t mind drinking while T and I got caught up.

It’s also a bonus on top of being a pleasant surprise from another friend.  First, it was her birthday but she gave me a present.  Second, even if she felt she owed it to me, I’d completely forgotten about the story of hers that I edited a while ago. Third, well.. remember that “wine snob” thing?  If I’m never given another bottle of Sutter Hill or Charles Shaw it’ll be too soon.  But hey, gainsaying that moniker was my lack of familiarity with nero d’avola.

At T’s house I offered the Colosi, I must say, without a lot of confidence.  That’s perhaps something more ingrained in my personality than I like to admit. It could be a wine, it could be a subject I’ve been studying, it could be my driving or my memory of a particular scene in a movie: I frequently find qualifiers in the information I’m giving if not complete statements designed to distance myself from representing what I just said with full faith and diligence.  Doesn’t really matter why, so long as I don’t try to compensate with over-confidence.  But my friends, good people that they are, breeze right past it.  And T and I dug into the nero d’avola and were readily impressed.

In a few ways T’s appreciation was the harder win – he’s not a big fan of red wines.  Likely the fact that Colosi barrels this nero d’avola in steel instead of oak contributed considerably to the initial pleasure, but T and I kept passing the bottle back and forth over a smoked gouda and later the orange chicken and mixed vegetables that made dinner.  It was such a pleasure that I forgot to leave a little for dessert – a bar of Swiss milk chocolate.  Now that’s saying something!

But back to old friends: It always struck me when I was a kid that my parents didn’t get out to see their own friends terribly often – and that’s without appreciating the scheduling contortions they had to go through to pull off visiting.  In a way it prepared me for the idea that adults can’t take friends and time spent with them for granted.  I saw my friends every day at school.  At college we lived a few blocks from each other and hanging out was a given.  Even the first couple of years after graduation it was easy enough to see each other.  But by and by chaos introduced itself to the system.  One friend had a child, another got married, another left the state for a job….  It’s the way things go, and it went on until I found myself hosting dinners in my tiny bachelor apartment just so I could see my friends.

It can be a little jarring to think of T as a family man.  I remember the guy in college with whom I stayed up late pretending to be vampires and pretending we were all bad ass because, well, that’s the kind of people we were…are…whatever.  We gamed, watched movies, traveled to events around the state attended by like-minded dorks, took care of our friends and generally grew up.  And I know first hand it can be a little jarring to look at one’s personal evolution and find not only embarrassment but pride that somehow, against all odds, we became the sort of reliable, upstanding folks society would call adults.  Well, T did anyway.  He got a whole private school to rely on his computer tech expertise, sought and earned an MBA, bought a condo, married his girlfriend and set about having a child.  Laid out in a sentence like that it sounds extremely simple, but anyone who’s ever attempted anything remotely like it knows no solid bullet point is made without a lot of hidden blood, sweat and tears.  I may stick to the highlights but it’s because T actually accomplished them.  I could be wrong, but I think that’s the definition of “respectable.”