We are at the beach. It is my best time. It’s a time for arguing over departure times for half an hour before any move is made toward the door. It’s a time for too many cooks in the kitchen, a dozen (or two dozen) people at the table, endless chips and salsa, discussions of gluten allergies, paddleboard surfing, and when the looming storm will dissipate. It’s time for glasses of cold things, beer and interesting cocktails discovered in newspapers and wine constantly opened and served in whatever glasses are available.
Mostly at the beach we drink coffee, and water, and collectively as a massive family unit we seem to strive to invent better, different, and more efficient ways to carry those on and into our person. The water was in bottles first, then frozen bottles, then pouches to reuse. The coffee was in a pot used again and again in the mornings, and I usually arrived just as the first pot had baked long enough to taste more like it came from the corner diner than the boutique coffee shop. As the caffeinators grew in number, the coffee pot was left in the dust of a dozen teenagers and twenty-somethings and grown-ups clattering their empty mugs on the counter every morning, stumbling through a whirr of bleary-eyed muttering and spitting. One of those instant, brew-a-cup machines took its place and though the coffee is mediocre, and the method confounding, it has saved our mornings. The early risers rebounded conversationally to political debate and literary philosophy around the breakfast table.
The first summer I worked at the wine shop, I decided I was in charge of providing libations to the masses at the Jersey Shore for our annual gathering of Callahans. I recall selecting bottles, a case, each one something both functional and interesting to talk about. Vinho Verde, for sure, some tasty Italian reds I was drinking plenty of myself, some inexpensive and not-Chardonnay whites for my ABC Aunt (that is, Anything But Chardonnay). I remember an afternoon with that aunt the previous year, nibbling nuts and cheese on the porch with a glass of cold Pinot Grigio thinking, “Is it five o’clock? Can I do this?” I wondered if, in fact, this was my destiny. This is GREAT, I thought.
The following summer I pulled up to the beach house with five cases of wine in my car. Callahans don’t play.