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In This Issue

Daily Column

            Come join the editor Jennifer Barnick as she searches for the Champagne Life....

click for daily column

Sparkling Wine

Interviewwith flight attendant Peggy O'Brien-Gould by Dr. Timothy Smith

Feature Italy's Surprising Sparklers: A Guide to Italian Sparkling Wine by Sandy Mitchell

Sparkling Wine Review John Euclid reviews Spanish Cavas

Arts & Sciences Flying High: Is Alcohol More Potent at Altitude? by Dr. Timothy Smith

Industry News ...a brief survey of sparkling wine news

First Person

HelloGoodbye Ian E. Detlefsen says hello and George Mentis says goodbye.

Passion ForumDarlene Foster writes about LSU women's hoops

Under the Goldlight—True Tales of Drinking Champagnee Felisha Foster revisits New Years 2003

Life Before Ten J. Blake Gordon tackles the nightmare     

Art & Literature

The Marcia Reed Virtual Gallery Paintings by Lorraine Smith

Drinker's Poetry Fredrik Bergström and Robert Slattery

Fiction The Garden Keepers by David Sirois

Film in ReviewAnna Luciano opines on a current release; Suzie Sims-Fletcher evaluates a current DVD rental, and John Euclid digs deep in the closet to review a classic movie


Other Goodies

Founder's Page Greeting from Dr. Timothy Smith

Letters to the Editor click for full list

Photo Gallery Click for Pics


 Happy Camp

by Ian E. Detlefsen


                  You’ll have to excuse me if I can’t give an exact date and time for this event. I was about four or six years old when I first witnessed the creature enter my house. His name was David Fry. He was a friend of my father; how they met I don’t know. It was an almost cloudy day, as I recollect. It wasn’t like one of those manufactured, half cloudy days that come to your mind when you first think of it—the ones where the sky shines brilliantly against a foreground of small splattered clouds that mimic marshmallows. Instead the entire complex was overcast with gigantic, white shy hogs that let in no light at all. And through these massive barges of condensed air, holes were poked through, but these were just tricks. Even though you could see the sky, light rarely shined through and when it did it was only for a little while until the darkness came back, then you knew you were fooled. I remember a distinct feeling of hate towards the sun that day. It seemed no matter what I could never get the thing to come down. I depended on the sky and the weather. I was six or four years old, nature was my livelihood. But parents were finicky about weather and rain, and I couldn’t do anything about that.

         It was morning when I met with my friends from around the complex. We gathered at the playground a bit later than usual. The complex was what we called the series of small, college student apartments where we lived. We loved that name, “the complex” for some reason. I don’t know why precisely. But back then you didn’t need to answer why. That was the beauty of it. We would say it back and forth and sometimes for no reason at all. Just something that sounded good between our lips. But it wasn’t a good day that day; we all agreed on that. It was damp and stormy and a lot of people had to wear coats. Coats were despised by all. And, also, no one could stay out long. We all knew it wouldn’t rain but the parents had said otherwise. So we did what we could to have fun for a while, and we did. About one hour later, everyone started to get called back and our numbers were rapidly picked off. Soon we were down to three and at that point we pretty much accepted that the day was ruined.

         The games we made were usually very active and complicated, as to try and include everyone. Whenever you wanted to be in a game all you had to do was make up a new rule. Its regulative persuasion didn’t really matter, however. Almost all of the rules would be scrapped by the end of the game as everyone knew whatever activity it was would simply fall into haphazard anarchy and gratuitous lunacy anyway. But because of the overcast sky we couldn’t even get that far. I marched home and flopped on the couch after everyone had gone home. Restless, I tried various noisy entertainments to make as much use of my time as I could. I thought it would be a good thing since I had recently heard comment on how nice most grown-ups said it was that kids got into doing things. I don’t quite remember exactly who said it, but I felt it was valid nonetheless. I was thrown out of the house about ten minutes later. I was told to stay on the porch, so in case it rained it didn’t get me. I stayed and looked up at the sky.

         Mother always liked to be in charge, even though she rarely was in actuality. I knew this fact since I was a small child. I stayed on the porch that day mostly just to humor her. I liked to make people happy. I was on a lawn chair outside, still looking at the sky when I heard the front door open. I knew my dad was already inside so it couldn’t be him. It must be company. I jolted my head up and peeked around the shoulder of the chair. It proved to be futile for seeing anything, however, and realizing this fact I got up and pressed myself to the glass door that separated the apartment from the porch. What stepped inside was nothing like I’d ever seen before. I discovered its name to be David Fry later on. His walk was the first thing I noticed. It was husky and gangly at the same time. He may have worn a plaid shirt or nothing at all. I couldn’t really tell, as it all seemed to blend into him so completely. He almost appeared like one of the stray raccoons I heard about from my friends, from time to time. The stories I had heard of them, which were widely approved by various accounts, were all very vicious and gruesome. David Fry seemed to be almost the embodiment of that characteristic and as I came in the room I hovered about the walls assessing his potential viciousness. Even when dad told me he was a friend of his I never really let my guard down.

         David Fry, as I would find later on in life, was a creature of Happy Camp. Perhaps the most ironic name ever given to a single location, Happy Camp is located in the mountainous northern region of California. I can’t tell you when it was first built. It may have begun when local Indians found they could grow cocaine and marijuana quite easily without police interference in the densely forested area. Or when the logging companies found they could make a fair deal of change by cutting down the thick wilderness. Or when the hippies came over looking for the Indians and found they could grow their own stashes without relative worry about the authorities either. Anyway, it can easily be stated that the entire community was basically founded on drugs and lawlessness.

         In the eclectic community of Happy Camp, David Fry was mostly referred to as Forest Dave. He’d made a killing with selling drugs early in his life. He bought a house deep in the woods with a lot of his earnings and still with much more to spare. People called the area David lived “Bigfoot Country” and the such due to rumors, started mostly by Dave, that he great, hairy creature was known to travel though the largely remote area on many an occasion. I could fully believe this. It all seemed possible to me just by looking at him. He was a creature of the wood.

         When he first saw me he let out a loud, bellowing chuckle and seemed to throw up his arms. It startled me and I cringed. They quickly became fists. I ducked my head as they deftly swung in my direction. He faked hitting me for some time. His knuckles were hairy and tangled and resembled especially rough moss. I yelped from time to time s the whiskers brushed past me. After what seemed like five minutes, probably due to my surprised terror, his hands flattened and he quickly began to tickle and pick me up. It was the strangest and most terrifying sensation I could have ever felt. I didn’t even scream. His grip was so strong by the time my feet were in the air I’d already given up all hope. I’d probably e taken away and eaten somewhere in this creature’s lair, I thought. There was no use denying it. I closed my eyes tight and waited. I was surprised when I found my feet on the ground a few seconds later. I looked around and even wondered if I was still alive. I felt my head and limbs to see if they were all there. I knew my chest was still there because I could still feel my heart beat. I heard a crack behind me. David was drinking beer with father now. I ran out of the house and bolted to the playground. Mother yelled about something I didn’t hear. Everything was fine; the sun was shining through. I talked about my encounter to my friends later that afternoon. I don’t remember if they believed me, probably not. Still I remember Dave, it’s been a decade or a dozen years now since that first meeting.




 Goodbye Woman

by George Mentis


                  I met her in a bar. It was a crowded bar in an aspiring to be affluent street down by the very rim of the marina section of San Francisco. I was a little drunk but not as drunk as my best friend. He was very drunk and surrounded by adoring girls. He was always very drunk and surrounded by beautiful girls. I was always a little drunk and arguing with one (usually) pretty-enough girl. That night in S.F. was no exception and as I found myself wondering if my best friend was going to vomit in the cab home with me (once again) or was he going to vomit in one of those girls’ cabs (as he had done countless times)?

         The girl I am to speak of or write about or maybe just finally understand was really no girl at all but a woman. I was only twenty then and somewhere in the heat of our argument over Hemingway I refused to believe what she said she did for a living (she said she was a doctor); and in an act of utter frustration she threw her official Oakland Hospital I.D. badge at me and sure enough she was the emergency room’s psychiatrist. I looked at her amazed for I thought she was my age. Girls my age are not doctors. She then threw me her driver’s license (now thoroughly enjoying the argument) and there it was: she was thirty-one years old.

         She wouldn’t let me take her out until we talked on the phone for several hours. This was a very long time for me, and I believed it was the longest I had ever spoken to anyone—let alone a girl. I cannot remember much of the conversation except that I realized I would not be taking her out. She would be taking me out. And I think it was then she told me that she had been left at the alter. It was not really the alter where she had been left, but the invitations had been sent.

         Our first date was terrifying. She picked me up after her hospital’s Christmas party. She was really dressed up, a little buzzed, and very talkative. I felt insanely weird in my fake grown-up clothes that my mom had bought for me to wear at a funeral I attended in high school. It had been my first funeral. It was my great uncle. I think it was at least; my family was very large and unfriendly and oddly without much frequency of death. It could have been a great cousin if that type of thing even exists.

         My food was not the Italian I knew, and she still talked a great deal. The busboy kept on staring at me all night, and I knew why or at least I kept on thinking I knew why. However, one thing was clear at dinner that was not so clear at the crowded bar from which we met, and that one clear realization was that this woman was hot. She was without a doubt the sexiest woman I had ever been allowed near. She was tall (a little taller than me in fact). She had huge brown eyes, tan skin from doing a lot of things (she was a woman who did a lot of things), and blonde hair that was sort of straight and shaggy and that just touched the nape of her neck.

         I was not a person who did a lot of things. I was, however, a person that thought about a lot of things, and between my thinking she was hot and my thinking about a lot of things we were able to strike enough of a connection for life-altering passion (well for my life at least) after dinner.

         Over the course of six months she continued to take me out and then my thinking she was hot and my thinking about a lot of things would continue to produce outrageous nights of lovemaking. But along with an incredible sex education some real trouble came. Believe it or not it was I—and yet in an odd way it was her that wanted everything.

         You see she really was a person who did a lot of things, which meant that very often she was too busy to see me. But somewhere after the three-month mark (is there really a mark?) we had agreed not to see other people. So here I had all the responsibility of being a boyfriend (namely no cheating) and yet none of the benefits: after six months of constantly being blown-off and cancelled upon I decided to confront her.

         “Either you make more time for me or we break up.” This was my general argument. “Listen, I love you…and if you can be patient I will get my career to the level where we can get married and have a really great life together.” And this was her response.

         “I am only twenty. I do not want to marry you or anybody. I do though want someone to spend time with and have some fun with…now…not in some far off distant future…when your career is set.” And that was my response to her response.

         Then unexpectedly she embraced me, told me that she had to pursue her career right now, and then we made absolutely passionate love.

         The next morning very, very early in the morning (she had early rounds at the hospital) I saw her silhouette at my bedroom door.

         “Goodbye,” I said.

         “Is that all you are going to say?” she asked.

         I did not answer. And I put my head back on my pillow as I heard her walk down the hall and shut my apartment door. And while I hate still to admit this when I heard the door shut the greatest swell of joy and relief entered my heart. I still do not understand why, but that goodbye was one of my happiest ever.




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