Sunday, May 16, 2021

"Pole Dancing With the Stars"

By Jerry Zezima

I may be happily married to the most beautiful woman on Earth (she’d be No. 1 on other planets, too), but it has always been on my bucket list to meet a pole dancer.

My wish came true when I made the acquaintance of Brandyn Phillips, a fully dressed guy who got into a bucket so he could install a new utility pole in my backyard.

“Your idea of a pole dancer has a whole different meaning,” said Brandyn, who was assisted by Robert Frederick Higgins III, known on the crew as Rob 1, and Robert Baldeo, aka Rob 2.

The terrific trio came over to replace an old pole on which was attached lines that provide power to homes throughout the neighborhood. The mission was to remove the lines and put them on the new pole, which had to be sunk in the corner of the yard before the old pole was removed.

“Can you dance?” I asked Brandyn.

“Yes,” he replied. “But I’d never do it in the bucket. And I’d keep my clothes on.”

“Nobody would want to see you without them,” said Rob 1. “The neighbors would call the cops.”

“He’d have to use the tips for bail money,” Rob 2 chimed in.

Rob 1 ranks ahead of Rob 2 because he has been on the job longer.

“You’re just a heartbeat away from being Rob 1,” I told Rob 2.

“I don’t like the sound of that!” said Rob 1.

Neither one had to risk his life by going up in the bucket — that’s Brandyn’s job. He became a friend in high places when he told me that his tallest order was being 350 feet in the air while working on wind turbines in Iowa, his home state.

“The highest I’ve ever worked on power lines is 180 feet,” said Brandyn, adding that the lines on the pole in my yard are a mere 29 feet up.

“I’m afraid of being any higher off the ground than the top of my head,” I told him.

Perhaps because my noggin is filled with air, I asked if I could go up in the bucket. Brandyn politely said no because of safety rules.

“If I fell out and landed on my head,” I said, “I wouldn’t get hurt.”

“I don’t doubt that,” said Brandyn, who did let me climb into the bucket, which was plastered with “Danger” signs. I found out why when I slipped while trying to lift one leg over the edge and almost qualified to be the lead singer for the Vienna Boys’ Choir.

When I finally got in, I saw all the tools that Brandyn uses to switch lines, which he did after the bucket — without me in it — was lifted to the top of the old pole by a huge vehicle with tank wheels and a boom that was operated from the ground by Rob 1.

“Can I drive it?” I asked.

“You wouldn’t get very far,” Rob 1 replied.

“I’m fat,” said Rob 2, who weighs 300 pounds, “and I can walk faster.”

But first, the 35-foot-tall new pole had to be driven six feet into the ground.

“If it fell on me,” I said, “I’d be six feet under.”

After Brandyn switched the lines, which carry 7,620 volts, the old pole had to be removed.

“If you want to be useful,” Rob 1 said, “grab a shovel and start digging.”

“I work dirt cheap,” I said.

At that moment, my beautiful wife, Sue, came outside and said, “What are you doing?”

“I’m helping out,” I responded.

“You’re bothering these guys,” she said.

“And he’s doing a damn good job,” Rob 2 assured her.

At least I didn’t get electrocuted, which would have prompted my final words: “That’s all, volts!”

But I did assist three great guys in keeping the power on in my neighborhood.

As I told Sue after they left, “Now I can take pole dancing off my bucket list.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, May 9, 2021

"The Winner by a Nose"

By Jerry Zezima

Of all the famous bridges in America — the Brooklyn, the Golden Gate and, of course, Beau and Jeff Bridges — the most impressive is the Zezima Bridge, which spans a great natural landmark: my nose.

So prominent is my proboscis that I could have set up a toll on the bridge — using SneezyPass — and made money to pay for a recent procedure that was performed not by a road crew but by Dr. Gregory Diehl, a sensational plastic surgeon with a practice in Port Jefferson Station, New York.

I first saw Dr. Diehl a few years ago, shortly after my dermatologist told me that I had a basal cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer that another doctor removed via Mohs surgery, which did not, fortunately, involve Larry and Curly.

The next day, Dr. Diehl expertly took skin from the upper right side of my nose and used it to seamlessly cover the area that was removed during the operation.

As sometimes happens, however, scar tissue developed. So I went back for a revision.

“I am going to do a dermabrasion,” Dr. Diehl said, referring to a procedure to smooth out surface scarring.

“What will you be using?” I asked.

“A sander,” he replied.

“Did you get it at Home Depot?” I wondered.

“That’s where I get all my tools,” Dr. Diehl said with a smile.

“This one must be big if you’re going to sand my nose,” I remarked.

“It’s small, like a Dremel,” said Dr. Diehl, referring to a make of rotary-action power tools.

“I’ve never heard of it,” I confessed.

“I guess you don’t know your way around a garage or a workshop,” said Dr. Diehl. “I’m pretty handy. I work with wood to put up shelves and make flower boxes.”

“This is why I’m not a carpenter,” I said.

“Or a plastic surgeon,” said Dr. Diehl, adding that he also would make a small incision on the right side of my nose to remove scar tissue that had built up under the skin. “And I won’t even need a power tool.”

On the day of the procedure, Dr. Diehl took a felt-tipped pen and drew lines on the areas of my nose where he would be working.

“You have a flair for this,” I told him as I looked in a mirror to admire his artwork.

In the operating room in the back of his office, Dr. Diehl — ably assisted by certified surgical technologist Ann Rich — numbed my nose (not with an elephant dart) and began to work miracles.

In less than an hour, the surgery was over.

“You did great,” Dr. Diehl said.

“It was nothing,” I replied.

Ann said to put Bacitracin on the affected areas and told me how to change the dressing, which I had to do daily.

A week later, I returned so she could remove the sutures.

When Dr. Diehl came in, he examined my nose, grinned broadly and exclaimed, “I nailed it!”

“I know you’re handy,” I said, “but if you actually did nail it, you would have broken the hammer.”

“I’ve seen a lot of noses,” said Dr. Diehl, who’s 61 and has been in practice for 29 years. “You have a nice one. It’s very symmetrical. And now it looks even better.”

He added that he has seen countless cases of basal cell carcinoma and that his greatest pleasure is “getting somebody out of a tight spot.”

“Do you have any celebrity patients?” I asked.

“You’re the most famous one,” he said.

“You may not be the plastic surgeon to the stars,” I said, “but you’re a star in my book.”

“That’s why we call Dr. Diehl the real deal,” said Ann.

“Take care of that beautiful nose,” the good doctor said as I was leaving. “And stay away from power tools.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, May 2, 2021

"Mother and (Grown-up) Child Reunion"

By Jerry Zezima

I was born more than three weeks past my due date, an act of monumental tardiness that kept my mother waiting for nearly 10 months to give birth to an 8-pound, 13-ounce baby who is even larger now but, sadly, no more mature.

But that was nothing (easy for me to say because I have not, as yet, given birth) compared to the 15 months my mother, Rosina, had to wait to see me after the pandemic struck.

Now that we have been vaccinated, it was safe for me to venture back to my hometown of Stamford, Connecticut, to visit my mom, who at 96 is in better shape than I am, both physically (except for her sore knees, which will probably sideline her for the remainder of the baseball season) and mentally (so are hanging plants, one of which I brought to her as a gift).

I pulled my car into the driveway and was enthusiastically greeted by my sister Elizabeth’s sweet pooch, Lucie, who is 14 and, in dog years, is as old as my mother and almost as frisky.

“Woof, Woof!” (translation: “Hi, Lucie!”) I exclaimed as the cuddly canine planted a kiss on my kisser.

“I think you’re barking up the wrong tree,” said my sister Susan, who with Elizabeth lives with our mom and helps take care of her.

We both laughed and hugged for the first time since January 2020.

Susan, Lucie and I went inside and waited for my mother to come downstairs from her bedroom, where she was getting dolled up for my appearance.

About 15 minutes later, I heard the sound of the stairlift, a contraption my mother calls “my magic carpet,” delivering her to the front hallway, which is next to the family room, where Susan and I were sitting.

My mother rolled into the room with the help of her rollator and said from behind me, “Hello, stranger!”

I turned around and, with mock indignation, huffed, “Can’t you see I’m talking with Susan?”

I turned back around and pretended to continue the conversation with my sister.

There was a moment of silence before we all burst into laughter. I got up and embraced my mother, who hugged me so tightly that she almost cracked my ribs. As a retired nurse, she could have fixed me up in a jiffy.

“I’ve waited for 15 months for this day,” my mother said when she finally released me.

“That’s even longer than you waited for me to be born,” I noted.

“And look what I got,” my mother joked.

What she got was a son who inherited her sense of humor, if not her punctuality. In fact, my mother is always joking, which in recent years has helped her bounce back from broken bones (leg, wrist and back) as well as a bump to the head, which, she said, “is too hard to break.”

Since it was raining, we couldn’t go outside, which was fine with me because the week before, my mother was visited by a bear.

“It came out of the woods and snapped two metal plant hooks like they were twigs,” my mother said.

“You could have scared it away with your trusty BB gun,” I said, referring to the air pistol my mom uses for — no kidding — target practice in the backyard.

“That makes you a son of a gun,” she quipped.

When Elizabeth came home, we hugged and laughed when I told her about the greeting I got from Lucie.

“She loves her Uncle Jerry,” Elizabeth said.

Susan’s son Blair, a wonderfully enterprising young man who also lives in the house, walked in wearing his “magnetic hat,” a baseball cap on which he attached magnets that hold some of the small tools he uses at work.

“That’s using your head!” I told him.

We sent out for pizza and had a laugh-filled dinner before I left for home.

“This has been one of the best days of my life,” my mother said as she gave me another hug. “And just like when you were born, it was worth the wait.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, April 25, 2021

"This Guy's a Real Card"

By Jerry Zezima

If I ever got a job at Hallmark, the greeting card company that helps people express their true feelings on such important occasions as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays like National Beer Day, which is April 7 but for me can be any day, I’d suggest a line of humorous sympathy cards. Like this one:

Violets are blue,

Roses are red.

Sorry to hear

Your goldfish is dead.

Now you know why Hallmark would never lower its otherwise high standards to pay me actual money to write greeting cards. But there should be some interest in hiring my wife, Sue, who has started writing her own greetings, which she calls Nini’s Homemade Cards.

She made the first one for me on Valentine’s Day. Instead of buying a card, which would keep Hallmark in business, Sue folded a sheet of pink construction paper in half, cut out a red  and pink heart from other sheets of paper, glued it to the front of the card and wrote this sentiment inside:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

I made this valentine

Just for you!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love you!!


Not quite as moving as my dead-goldfish card, but I appreciated her effort. So, more recently, did our grandchildren Xavier and Chloe, for whom Sue, known to all five of our grandkids as Nini, made colorful birthday cards, even using sparkles on the covers.

Such brilliant creativity made me think Sue could work for Hallmark. So I called the company and was put in touch with Andrew Blackburn, who writes greeting cards for a living.

“What your wife has done with her cards is impossible at Hallmark,” said Blackburn, 32, who has been writing for the company for 11 years.

“Wow, I guess that means she’s unique,” I said.

“What makes what your wife did meaningful and special is that she took the time to do it herself,” Blackburn said diplomatically. “But what we have to do is not only tap into what makes a card meaningful to an individual person, but tap into universal specifics.”

“It sounds like she wouldn’t be an ideal fit at Hallmark,” I said.

“They’re smart enough not to let me make those decisions,” said Blackburn, a personable guy who has created some outstanding cards, including a Father’s Day classic.

On the cover, which features a picture of a smiling brother and sister on a swing, it says: “A good dad lets his kids play outside.”

On the inside, it says: “A great dad lets them back in. Happy Father’s Day to a great dad.”

“I don’t remember if I wrote that one before I had kids or after,” said Blackburn, who has two sons, ages 6 and 4. “But now there are moments when I realize the truth of it.”

He also realizes he is in a unique position never to forget his wedding anniversary.

“I write greeting cards, so I’d have no excuse,” said Blackburn, who has been happily married to his wife, Becca, for as long as he has been working at Hallmark.

“She’s super supportive and loves what I do,” he said.

“Would she be interested in writing greeting cards like my wife does?” I wondered.

“No,” said Blackburn. “She leaves that to me.”

“I think Sue will leave that you, too,” I said. “That way, she can continue to write cards for the family and you can keep your job.”

“It’s a win-win,” Blackburn said.

“Maybe you can start writing cards for such important holidays as National Beer Day,” I suggested. “And don’t forget those humorous sympathy cards.”

“Don’t worry,” Blackburn said. “If your goldfish dies, you will have my sympathy.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, April 18, 2021

"Put on a Happy Face"

By Jerry Zezima

The problem with wearing a mask — aside from the lamentable fact that you can’t breathe, talk or make funny faces — is that no one can see you smile.

Not that there has been much to smile about over the past year because the pandemic has forced everyone to wear a mask, the result being that I couldn’t see people smile at my frustrating inability to make funny faces or tell stupid jokes.

But I recently dropped the mug rug when, after receiving my second coronavirus vaccine and for the first time in months, I saw my granddaughters Chloe and Lilly without having to wear a mask.

“Poppie!” they squealed in unison when I walked in the front door of their house to watch them while my daughter Lauren ran errands.

They still recognized me. I think the mustache was a giveaway because my wife, Sue, known to our five grandchildren as Nini, doesn’t have one.

Sue and I had seen Chloe and Lilly the previous day for an afternoon of outdoor fun and frolic, the first time we had done so, maskless, in I can’t remember how long. (I can’t remember because wearing a mask every day has cut off the air supply to what little remains of my brain.)

At any rate, the only way our grandchildren could see us since this whole viral business began is on FaceTime, which has given me a chance to show my Face one silly session at a Time.

But now, I was finally resuming my cherished role as The Manny, a big-baby babysitter whose grandkids are more mature than I am.

“Where’s your mask, Poppie?” asked Chloe, who just turned 8.

“In the car,” I replied.

“You look better without it,” said Lilly, who’s 4.

Then, announcing she was the Tooth Fairy, Lilly handed me a small mesh candy bag with 40 cents in it.

“You deserve it, Poppie,” Lilly said. “You lost your buck teef when you were little. I didn’t lose my buck teef,” which she couldn’t pronounce without, of course, her “buck teef.”

As the three of us used all of our teeth to eat lunch — mac and cheese — it dawned on me that Chloe and Lilly may be the only people on earth happy to see my full visage again.

Afterward, we went outside to the girls’ picnic table, which served as Lilly’s Restaurant, where I was served a dessert of freshly picked flowers.

“Yummy!” I exclaimed as I pretended to munch on the delicious dandelions, which I pretended to wash down with dandelion wine.

“You don’t have to wear your mask in my restaurant,” Lilly informed me.

After running around the yard and playing on the swings, we went back inside, where Lilly changed into her Princess Aurora costume from “Sleeping Beauty.”

“Would you like me to change into a costume?” I asked, which prompted Lilly’s resounding response: “No!”

Chloe got on her FreeTime to show me “Hello Kitty Discovering the World.”

“Let’s go to Australia!” she said.

“Do I need a passport?” I wondered.

“Of course not, silly Poppie!” Chloe answered.

After visiting all the continents, I made a mental note to put in for mileage on my tax returns.

Then the girls climbed into my lap so I could read “Paulette: The Pinkest Puppy in the World.”

“She’s having a ruff day!” Chloe joked.

It was a wonderful visit, especially since we could actually hear each other.

“Do you know what you sound like with a mask on?” Chloe asked.

“What?” I replied.

“Um, um, um!” Chloe said.

“Ugh, ugh, ugh!” Lilly joined in.

We all laughed. When Lauren got back, it was time to leave.

Without a mask on, it was easy to show the girls I had a great time. They could see it from a smile away.

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, April 11, 2021

"Dotting My Eye"

By Jerry Zezima

I spy with my swollen eye, which got that way because of a stye.

It may come as no surprise that when I took poetry in high school, I wasn’t a very good pupil. That my pupil was recently covered by an inflamed eyelid was a big surprise to me, especially after my wife, Sue, told me to put a hot teabag on the painful peeper and started calling me “Winky.”

I became a double-visionary when I felt something — an eyelash, a piece of dirt, possibly a ham sandwich — in my left eye.

Wisely avoiding the temptation to use a metal rake to remove the ocular invader, I stuck a finger in my eye, though not in the same stern manner that Moe often poked Larry, Curly or Shemp in order to disabuse his fellow Stooges from abusing him.

It didn’t work. So I tried flooding my eye with shower water. That only compounded the problem. So did an inadvertent squirting of soap, which burned like hell.

A couple of days later, my left eyelid had ballooned to the size of — you guessed it — a balloon, though without “Happy birthday!” written on it.

My lid was so red that if I had stood on a street corner, cars may actually have stopped.

“What’s going on, Winky?” Sue asked cheerily.

“My eyelid is about to erupt like Mount St. Helens,” I grumbled.

“You have a stye,” she informed me. “Put a hot teabag on it.”

Sue should know, not only because she has had this ailment herself, but because she drinks approximately half the world’s supply of tea. If she saved a year’s worth of bags, they would be piled as high as the Empire State Building.

I boiled some water, poured it in a cup, dunked in a teabag, pressed it to my eyelid and let out a scream that rattled the windows.

“You have to make the teabag as hot as you can stand it,” Sue said.

“That’s all I can stand,” I replied, echoing Popeye. “I can’t stands no more.”

So I went to a walk-in clinic and saw Dr. Lindsey Schuster, who asked if I use glasses.

“Only those that hold wine or beer,” I responded.

“You have a stye,” she said before prescribing an antibiotic ointment. “If it doesn’t work, you should see an eye doctor.”

The ointment didn’t work, so I went to see Dr. Howard Weinberg.

“You have a stye,” he said.

“My wife told me to put a hot teabag on it,” I told him.

“What happened?” Dr. Weinberg wondered.

“It scalded my eyelid,” I reported. “And the caffeine kept my eye open all night.”

“I’ve seen a lot more styes lately,” he said. “They’re caused by the face masks people wear. Their breath goes into their eyes.”

“What if they have bad breath?” I asked.

“Then,” Dr. Weinberg answered, “they’ll get stink eye.”

“What can I do to get rid of the stye?” I wanted to know.

“Get a baked potato, wrap it up nice and hot, and put it on your eye,” Dr. Weinberg said.

“Will that help?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “But at least you’ll have something to eat.”

The good doctor, who believes that laughter is the best medicine, then gave me an eye exam. I passed with limping colors.

“You have 20/30 vision in your left eye and 20/40 in your right,” he said. “Not bad for someone of your age. And definitely not as bad as this one patient who put a paddle over one eye, covered his other eye with his hand and said, ‘I can’t see.’ And he didn’t even have a stye.”

“What about mine?” I asked.

“Put a warm compress on it,” Dr. Weinberg said. “And enjoy the baked potato.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, April 4, 2021

"On Puns and Needles"

By Jerry Zezima

Now that I have gotten my second dose of the coronavirus vaccine and am suffering no ill effects, aside from a troublesome bout of incoherence, which I was actually born with, I can say without fear of contradiction or incarceration that the pandemic is finally over.

Or more accurately, according to the nice and knowledgeable person who gave me the shot, it will likely end soon, thanks to my heroic and entirely questionable efforts.

I did my part to eradicate this once-in-a-century scourge by going with my wife, Sue, who had already received her second shot and accompanied me in case I fainted, to Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, a major vaccination site with every important medical feature except, unfortunately, an open bar.

As I did the first time, I drove to the building that served as vaccine central. After Sue and I walked in and had our temperatures taken, I was directed to a table where a pleasant staffer named Charles asked to see my paperwork.

“Because I’m getting my second dose,” I said, “does that mean the pandemic is over?”

“I hope so,” Charles responded.

Tiffany, who sat next to him, added, “Now I don’t have to get my second one.”

“I’m here to help,” I told her.

“I appreciate it,” she said.

“I figured you were going in alphabetical order,” I said. “And since my last name begins with a Z, this is the end of the virus.”

“That explains why people are clearing out,” Tiffany said.

“They probably saw me coming,” I said. “I have that effect.”

“I’ve heard that about you,” Tiffany said as Charles handed me my paperwork and, very politely, told me where to go.

I walked down a hallway with Sue to a door with a sign that read: “Second shots.”

We stood in line for about five minutes before I was directed to a station where Olivia would be giving me the vaccine.

“How did you react to your first shot?” she asked.

“Just fine,” I said. “I liked it so much, I came back for a second one.”

“Maybe you could come back for a third,” Olivia suggested.

“I’d come back for a fifth,” I replied, “but you don’t serve alcohol, do you?”

“No, but I will rub alcohol on your arm before I give you the injection,” answered Olivia.

“I’ve heard that some people get bad reactions to their second shots,” I said.

“You might have a sore arm,” Olivia said.

“Does this mean I won’t be able to pitch in the major leagues?” I asked.

“I’m afraid so,” she replied. “You might also have a fever and chills.”

“Then I’d be running hot and cold,” I noted.

“Any other concerns?” Olivia inquired.

“I’m naturally lightheaded, so how will I know the difference?” I wondered. “And what if I become incoherent?”

“Then your wife will ignore you,” Olivia said.

Sue, who was standing nearby, nodded and said, “I do that anyway.”

“Your wife is smart,” Olivia said.

“You have a point,” I noted.

“Actually, I do,” said Olivia, who used it to painlessly give me the shot.

“Do you realize,” I said as I buttoned my shirt and took a card signifying I was fully vaccinated, “that when the pandemic is over, the only people wearing masks will be bank robbers?”

“Until then,” Olivia said, “you should still wear one when you go out. But you are doing your part to eradicate the virus.”

“So far, it’s kept me off the streets,” I said. “But pretty soon, I’ll be on the loose again. And no one will be safe from my stupid jokes.”

“In that case,” Olivia said, “people may have to be vaccinated against you.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima

Sunday, March 28, 2021

"Put a Cork In It"

By Jerry Zezima

Because I am a connoisseur of fine wines, and have the liquor store bills to prove it, I can say with great authority and a slight hangover that when it comes to pairing wine and food, reds go with Slim Jims and whites go with Twinkies.

For this impressive expertise, I am known to oenophiles, Francophiles and especially juveniles as a real corker. But until recently, I had never corked wine or even bottled the stuff.

So I went to Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck, New York, to see how the professionals do it.

My instructor was Patrick Caserta, Shinn’s talented winemaker, who was working with Jon Sidewitz, Carlos Magana and Rosa Ulan to bottle and cork 230 cases of cabernet franc.

“Would you like some?” Patrick asked.

“It’s 10 o’clock in the morning,” I pointed out.

“Wine for breakfast is pretty good,” Patrick said.

“Cheers!” I replied as I sipped and savored the fruity red nectar.

“This cab franc has been aged in a stainless steel tank for a short time,” Patrick explained. “It’s young.”

“Unlike me,” I said. “I’ve been fermenting for almost seven decades.”

“You have quite a vintage,” Patrick noted.

“It’s just sour grapes,” I said.

The grapes in Patrick’s cabernet were anything but sour. In fact, they were wonderfully refreshing.

“When we harvest these grapes, we don’t add sulfur,” Patrick told me. “It’s a fruitier kind of wine that should be chilled at cellar temperature.”

“I don’t have a cellar,” I said.

“Then you should drink it right away,” Patrick said.

I stuck my large nose in the small glass that contained the cab franc, inhaled without drowning and swallowed the rest of the wine.

“It tickles the palate,” I declared.

“It also tickles the pallets,” said Patrick, adding that each one holds 60 cases.

“I rest my case,” I told him.

“Good,” said Patrick. “Now you can help bottle and cork the wine.”

The bottling part involved putting an empty glass container under an apparatus that would feed the wine into the bottle.

“You have to fit the top of the bottle against the rubber seal,” Patrick instructed. “If you don’t do it right, the bottle will keep filling and the wine will spray all over like a geyser.”

“With me,” I said, “it would be a geyser on a geezer.”

No such mishap occurred because I put the bottle directly into the seal and watched as the wine flowed freely and flawlessly, stopping exactly at the top.

“Nice job!” exclaimed Patrick, who said the wine was being pumped from a tank by gravity.

“Sir Isaac Newton must have discovered it when a grape fell on his head,” I theorized.

Patrick nodded and began to tell me about ethyl acetate.

“Who’s she?” I wondered.

“The wife of Norman Acetate,” replied Patrick, adding that it’s an organic compound in fermentation.

After my successful bottling, I attempted to put a cork in it. This entailed bringing the bottle to the corking machine, pressing a thin metal trigger and watching the cork be plunged snugly into the top of the bottle.

“You’re a real pro!” said Patrick, who’s 46.

“You were born when I reached the legal drinking age,” I said.

“No wonder you’re so good at this,” said Patrick, who let me fill and cork several more bottles. “You’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into it.”

“Maybe this batch should be known as Cabernet Jerry,” I suggested.

“You can tell Mrs. Zezima you had a hand in it,” Patrick said, referring to my wife, Sue, who, like me, is a Shinn Wine Club member.

“What about Franc?” I asked.

“We won’t tell him,” said Patrick, adding that my cab would pair well with chicken or hamburgers.

“It’s the best wine I’ve ever had,” I gushed. “I can’t wait to try it with Slim Jims.”

Copyright 2021 by Jerry Zezima