As mentioned before in these pages, I spend an abnormal amount of time in the wine aisle at my local Safeway supermarket. This is probably a good indication that I’m not only a functioning alcoholic, but a cheap functioning alcoholic. Personally, I like to spin my loitering as, “a wine professional performing diligent research into the latest trends and pricing in the industry.” And let’s face it: if I was wasted all the time, I’d never be able to write a sentence like that.
During these, um, periods of focused research, I typically witness several of my fellow shoppers perusing the selections as well, most often with looks of confusion and bewilderment. I don’t blame them. Even a grocery store’s wine selection can be intimidating, as there may be a hundred or more items to choose from. Despite having some off-hand knowledge about how red wine goes with, you know, meat, I never ask a person if they need help finding a selection. Especially women. Because creepy.
Last week, I made an exception.
She was probably in her mid-30’s, though it was hard to tell because she was wearing acid-washed Mom Jeans, which are apparently hip and trendy now but were jeans my mom wore back in the 90’s. She walked slowly in my direction down the white wine side of the aisle, unconsciously twirling her raven hair between her acrylic fingernails, her blue eyes glazing over from too much input. She finally stopped a few feet from me, fixing her gaze on the Yellowtail Chardonnay.
“What wine pairs with a lousy boyfriend?” she sighed.
Though I’m sure she was thinking out loud rather than asking me directly, I couldn’t resist an answer. “Are we talking, ‘I forgot your birthday’ lousy or, ‘I just slept with someone else’ lousy?”
She gave a slight if not morbid chuckle. “My best friend, actually.”
Day-yum. That’s gotta hurt.
“Do you prefer white or red?” I asked.
“I prefer to get drunk,” she replied.
“Ah,” I said, turning to the red wine side of the aisle. “Then you’ll be wanting this.”
I scoured the shelves for a Primitivo, knowing in the back of my mind that the chances of actually finding one were about the same as Brett Kavanaugh going on a double-date with Rose McGowan. As I suspected, I ended up reaching for a 2015 Santa Ynez Zinfandel from Bridlewood Estate Winery instead.
(Honestly, I was surprised to find the Bridlewood 2015 Zin in a grocery store, as the winery usually only sells their zin online or through their tasting room. Interestingly, the vines for this wine were brought down from Mendocino and replanted about 100 years ago in the central valley of California).
“Here,” I said, handing her the bottle. “This zinfandel says it’s 15% alcohol, but in the state of California you can fudge your alcohol percentages down by as much as a point, so I’ll bet this is closer to 16%. Though don’t hold me to that. None the less, you drink this whole thing and you’ll forget your own name, let alone his.”
“Ah, thanks,” she said, examining the label. “But, you know, it’s not like I want to forget him.”
Of course not. Why would you? I mean, he only had sex with your best friend.
Why do we stay? Why do we leave? Why do we get dumped when we don’t expect it and not get dumped when we do? As a guy who has had about ninety-six failed relationships, I have given this conundrum quite a bit of thought. And I believe it all comes down to the following equation:
D = (B – T) x E
D is the chance, expressed as a percentage, of getting dumped. B is your abhorrent behavior, minus your partner’s T, or tolerance for said behavior. This value is then multiplied by your partner’s current E, which is self-esteem. In the case of Mom Jeans, the values of the variables looked something like this:
Dump The Boyfriend = (He Slept With BFF – That’s SO Not Cool) x I Hate Myself.
The higher the E and B, the greater the chance of being dumped. The lower the E and B, the less the chance of being dumped. T is the only variable where your chance of getting dumped goes down as the value goes up. Since E in this example is a negative value (I Hate Myself), it brings the Dump Percentage D down to zero, negating all other variables.
Therefore, to find the perfect wine pairing for your lousy boyfriend, solve for D and apply these general rules:
D < 25% = Sauvignon Blanc (or any Italian white varietal)
D > 25% but < 50% = Chardonnay (typically oaked out the wazoo. None of this light and crisp French stuff)
D > 50% but < 75% = Pinot Noir (but domestic kinds that are usually spiked with Syrah)
D > 75% = Shiraz from Australia, Napa Cabs from 2013, Zinfandel and Primitivo
This may all seem very math-y and complicated, but relationships are complicated things. One might believe that meme-grade sentiments like “Don’t Be A Dick” can guide you through the rat-maze complexity of couplehood, but the truth is you can be a dick and still not get dumped. Worse yet, dickishness is a quality some actually seek out in a mate. Hence, the E in my formula.
Like all sweeping generalizations, this formula probably has more holes in it than Sarah Sanders’ explanation of…anything. I encourage my fellow relationship mathematicians to comment with any additions or modifications.
I wanted to say something to Mom Jeans as she turned and meandered off to the checkout line, her head bowed to the cold, grey-tiled floor. I thought I wanted to tell her that she didn’t deserve this, regardless of all the circumstances I didn’t know. Then I realized what I really want to do was tell her I was sorry. Not so much in the empathic way that says, “I’m sorry for what you’re going through,” but to actually apologize to her as a proxy for all the partners I had wronged; for all the times my B was so stupid it increased my D factor to the point of no return.
But I said nothing. Instead, I simply picked up my own bottle of Bridlewood Zinfandel. Some of the greatest insight is found at the bottom of a wine bottle. Whether we choose to live by it the next day is another matter entirely.