Don't get me wrong, I'm happy you are here, and I'm happy once again to be buying decent wine right on Van Brunt St. There were some thirsty months after the abrupt closing of that venerable Red Hook pioneer, LeNell's. But I'm writing because as in all interpersonal relationships, you and I need to establish some ground-rules. The things therapists call 'boundaries'. First of all, please, take me out of your "system." You know what I'm referring to, don't you? I mean your computer database of customers and their preferences, purchases, likes and dislikes. Erase me. Delete me. Whatever. Please. If I can't remember what I drank last week, I'll live with that.
I'm not sure if you remember, but the very first time I bought wine from you--although I always and only pay cash--you magically created some sort of computerized profile about me, despite my objections. My memory is a little furry at the moment, but here's an honest attempt to recreate that exchange, in film script format. Call this "Act One." The scene opens with the two of us, facing one another across your elegant counter :
DD: Let me just put some information in here, so we can better serve you.
ME: Oh, jeez, here we go again! I have to tell you, this computer business was one thing that really pissed me off about LeNells, may her store rest in peace. I'd really rather not.
DD: My goodness, why not? Having you on file allows us to look and see whether you prefer reds, or whites, Pinot, or Cabernet, that sort of thing. For instance, if someone comes in, they might say I'm going around the corner to Richard's for dinner, and I need to pick up a couple of bottles. And then we can make informed suggestions as to what to bring. Or you might come in and say my friend
ME: I don't know, I mean, I'm really not comfortable with all my alcohol purchases being jotted down in cyberspace.
DD: I'm afraid you strike me as a somewhat paranoid young man. This isn't public information, this is our private system.
ME: Oh, alright then, if you must.
(If I succumbed, it's because I secretly admit that sometimes Amazon does miraculously turn me on to a good book or CD I didn't know about, even if all the stuff they know about me sometimes makes shopping there a creepy experience. On the other hand, the neighborhood wine store doing it risks being the digital equivalent of the nosy neighbor who counts my empties on recycling day.)
Fast forward to yesterday, when my delightful girlfriend, Laura, headed your way, craving a bottle of Chardonnay to go with some lovely leftover shaved-fennel salad our friend Anne had whipped up for the previous night's dinner. Now, Laura and I have been together since long before you opened your shop, but you may not know her as well as you know me. That's not because she doesn't like wine, it's because two years ago she moved to Boston to study really fancy stuff at a really fancy school, so that she could get rich and help me retire early. As you might imagine, we don't get to see each other as often as we would like, but we have struggled on, trying to make it work, despite all the difficulties and uncertainties associated with long-distance relationships. That's the context for "Act Two":
DD: (Ringing up bottle of fat, buttery Chardonnay) Will that be all for you? Are you in our system?
LAURA: I don't think so, but my boyfriend might be.
DD: Oh, who's that?
LAURA: Richard Fleming
DD: (Typing feverishly into database, then smiling brightly) You must be Vanessa.
Cut to: Interior, my kitchen, where I am blissfully reheating a pot of collard greens, setting the table for two with candles, etc. The front door opens, rather violently.
LAURA: (With very subtle edge of Jack Nicholson) Hi, honey, I'm home!
ME: The food's almost ready, did you get the Chardonnay?
LAURA: Who the F*@K is Vanessa?????!!!! (Laura then winds up like Babe Ruth and breaks my jaw with the bottle of Chardonnay. Shards of glass and teeth skitter across the kitchen floor).
ME: (Lying on my back on the Brazilian Cherry floor. Blood pours out of the corner of my mouth to mix with the Chardonnay puddle.) Urggh, Aagh. No idea, sweetie. Va-who? Call 9-1-1, please.