"OK! I Love You!"

Last Friday, I told my landlord I loved her. This was most unfortunate, considering that I do not, in fact, love her. Truth be told, I can barely tolerate the woman. Six months ago, I bounced the rent check, and since then she has regarded me with the quiet disdain one usually affords drunk uncles and kids who sell magazine subscriptions at your door during dinner. Yet, despite her unwarranted prejudice, there we were, on the phone, discussing a small credit I had towards next month's rent balance, when I proclaimed my love for her.

It wasn't the first time I'd done something like this. About four years ago, a sudden 1:00 a.m. craving for a Jack In The Box Oreo Shake found me in front of the crackling speaker of the drive-thru lane, professing my love for the 19-year-old guy working the Poverty shift. Talk about awkward...

"Uh, I don't really love you," I mumbled, as I handed him my five bucks. Then I stupidly added, "Unless you want to give me that milkshake for free." Ha ha. Yeah, that wasn't exponentially more awkward at all.

"We're not that kind of Jack In The Box," the kid said, dropping the change in my palm from two feet away in an obvious attempt to avoid skin contact with the Old Perv. And yet, despite the cringing discomfort of the whole exchange, the only thing I could think of as I drove off was, Does that mean there is that kind of Jack In The Box somewhere?


fast food goes with pinot noir

"You want fries with that shake, or a Happy Ending?"


I want to blame all of this on the wine, because it's a way better excuse than more likely causes, such as old age, Zoloft consumption, or the soul-imploding monotony of a day job. Either way, my wires are getting crossed. I slip into conversational auto-pilot, and what is typically a salutation reserved for my family and closest friends gets accidentally thrown out at random to strangers:

"Ok, I love you!"

I've done the maths, and I think I've said this to my mom 4,866 times at the end of our phone calls. I've said it to both exes approximately 1,216 times (before "I hope you die in a meat packing accident" became the official sign-off), and considering I have three kids, two brothers, and a dozen assorted nieces/nephews/cousins, I can confidently say I have wrapped up well over ten thousand conversations with, "Ok, I love you!" The fact that I've only slipped up twice with those who are less than deserving is quite a miracle.

Of course, no one is really undeserving of being told, "I love you." That said, I'm not professing that the world's problems would be immediately solved if we started tossing out Dali Lama feel-good moments like so much emotional glitter. What intrigues me, as I take my 30th sip of this really amazing pinot I'm going to talk more about in a moment, is this: when somebody says, "I love you," what's the automatic response that comes to mind?

I love you, too.

Essentially, a well-placed "I love you" pressures a person into taking an emotional self-inventory about their feelings for you. Anybody dating in their early 20's can tell you this first hand ("I love you, baby." "Awww...I have...deep feelings...about you, too."). And though our society is certainly gripped with an Appropriateness Paranoia (which could be a whole other blog post), just imagine what might happen if you capped the next conversation with your boss with a jubilant, "Ok, I love you?"

As for the landlord, her reaction was a loud and genuine laugh. I laughed with her, quickly blurting out my embarrassed apologies.

"That's ok," she said. "That's the best thing anyone has said to me in months."

Well, maybe she's more than just tolerable.

2016 Dancing Coyote Pinot Noir, Estate Grown, Clarksburg, California

Professing Your Love, Unexpectedly, Pairs With: Dancing Coyote Estate Grown Pinot Noir, Clarksburg, California. We actually ordered something different from the list, some pinot that was supposed to be the bizarre strange love child of Howell Mountain and Santa Lucia Highlands. But due to plain old miscommunication, we ended up with the Dancing Coyote, and wow, what a surprisingly amazing find.

The pretentious wine phrase I like to use in these situations is varietal typificity. In less obnoxious terms, this is a pinot noir that tastes like a pinot noir should taste: wet dirt, mushrooms, leather, tobacco and that signature fruit flavor that I wish they put in Fruity Pebbles, because then I'd eat them all day. The finish is incredibly soft, aided by a low-ish alcohol of 13.5% and six months of oak barrel aging.

And Clarksburg...who knew? The Clarksburg appellation, situated in the Sacramento Valley, is quickly developing quite a following for the quality of its grapes. The growing conditions, exemplified by warm summer days and cool nights, make the climate ideal during the long growing season for lighter varietals like pinot. Dancing Coyote is a family run, owned and operated vineyard, operating in the Delta region along the Sacramento River for five generations.

At $14 a bottle, this wine is a steal. Get yours here and spread the love.

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