So I got this bottle of la Grande Dame Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin at the duty-free shop in Heathrow Airport around 1994 or 1995. It cost me, at the going exchange rate, about $60 and I thought to myself these bitches really know how to rape a guy when he’s at the most vulnerable.
You see it’s always been my theory that at any duty-free store you always pay more than what it would cost at the store on the local High St including the taxes. But I was at the point where I figured I could spend my pounds sterling there or wait until I got back to the States and go to the James Cook, Sam Cook, Harry Cook or whatever the name of the exchange bureau was called then and convert the money into dollars at a rate that would even make a loan shark or a fence blush with shame.
Not being a real champagne drinker, although if I had a choice the cheaper yellow label version of Cliquot has always been my favorite, I always thought that I would save my French import via London for a special occasion. I didn’t know what that occasion would be, but it would have to be a small one because there are only so many people you can share one bottle with.
But somehow that occasion has never really happened or at least never thought of until it was well after and done with. I mean sure, there has been the birth of this relative or that. There have been the times that I got together with this person or thanked God that I didn’t, but I never thought to reach under the bed, my storage cellar, to celebrate the event. And now that I find on the internet that the going price for an ’89 Grand Dame is around $360 I realize, sad thing, I’m not sure if I ever will crack the bottle open.
I’ve been having the weirdest dreams recently, all of which have been apocalyptic in nature with me ending up running from something. I may have to change my movie watching to romantic comedies or something instead of the teenage Armageddon types that I like to go for. So with that kind of foreboding and the long dead Mayans telling us that the end of the world will be on Friday, I’m sort of thinking about my bottle now.
I know I won’t open the Grande Dame on Thursday because that would be just silly, nothing’s happening. But if on Friday there are earthquakes or erupting volcanoes or an invasion from Mars I somehow don’t see myself saying, “Time for the bubbly,” either. But since like TS Elliot I see my world ending, "not with a bang but a whimper," that's probably not worth thinking about.
I wish I had spent that $60 on something else; I would have more than used, lost or broken it by now. All I actually do know is that by next week, I'll still be staring at the bottle and still wondering when.