Intermission: A Brief Story About A Hamster

For years, I’ve been a huge fan of The Moth, the live storytelling show/competition that can be heard on The Moth Radio Hour on most public radio stations. A few months back, I decided to give it a shot myself and signed up for the Moth StorySLAM in San Francisco. The theme for the night was “Mystery,” which meant I had to come up with a brief story: a true, five-minute story centered on the theme. I threw my name in the hat, drank about four glasses of cheap Pinot Grigio to calm my nerves, had my name called and up I went to tell my story. Now I’m addicted.

Here’s a brief story about a hamster:


white wine in a glass

Telling a brief story Of My Daughter’s Lost Hamster Pairs With: Whatever This Relatively Gross Pinot Grigio Was. 

Ok, so let’s face it, when you go to a regular ol’ dive bar (as opposed to a formally-designated Wine Bar), there’s no expectation you’ll have a plethora of Napa cult Cabernets to choose from. People go to bars for Life Medication, the kind of relief that’s found in the fast and effective consumption of grain alcohol. I get this. But if your standard bar offers everything from well scotch to 20-year-old single malt Glenfiddich, why can’t you get a decent bottle of wine along with the plonk?

There are a few reasons for this. The first is slightly illegal but happens all the time. Major spirits distributors will offer bar owners free mass-market wine from their portfolio in exchange for large orders from their spirits catalogue. Order enough high end vodka, we’ll throw in the Pinot Grigio for nothing. That amounts to $30 to $50 per bottle in pure profit, which surprisingly enough, has been known to take priority over quality.

Another reason is the quantity factor. Though a bottle of well gin, for example, is still more expensive than a mass-produced Pinot Grigio, there are 24 cocktails in a bottle of gin, as opposed to four glasses of wine in a bottle. That comes out to a 5x profit margin for the gin over the PG.

Franchised bars or large chains have another advantage they can use to get access to less expensive wine. With name recognition and a large consumer base behind them, chain bars can create their own private label wine. Though some private label bottlings can certainly be high quality, vineyard-designate wines, many are simply quick productions of inexpensive bulk wine with the chain’s name stamped on the label. Again, think lower demand and higher profit margin.

15 thoughts on “Intermission: A Brief Story About A Hamster”

  1. What a great story and an awesome story telling!! The Hamster genocide line had me shooting coca cola through my nose! Thanks, John!

  2. Okay I loved the story. We have had many hamster escapes back in the days when I still allowed the kids to own rodents. Luckily most of the time we were able to recapture the escapees in the closet or under furniture (and once, inside a hole eaten into a brand new leather sofa. Only once did the hamster escape long enough to go to the great hamster wheel in the sky, leaving behind the scent o’ death. It is remarkable how easily a small, blind, hamster can escape from a seemingly escape-proof cage.

    1. Thanks Kathy! Fortunately, the Replacement Hamster is a “dwarf hamster,” and has no desire to escape into the horrifying realm of the massive outside world. The kids are starting to ask for things like dogs and cats now. I wish they made those two inches long as well.

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