Short Showers and Cheap Wine

Drinking wine at lunch bumper sticker - Cropped

We all remember what it was like, as a kid, to wake up hours before Christmas morning because amazing presents and sugar were waiting for us.  And, conversely, we all know what it’s like hide under the covers for an extra half-hour after the alarm goes off because we have a 9:00 meeting that gives us hives.

Well, one of the MOST wonderful things about retirement is that you DON’T HAVE TO wake up to the fierce screaming of an alarm anymore.

I am usually the first one up and Gary staggers out a bit later.  He enters a predictable hour or so of coffee-drinking and staring.  Sometimes there is conversation, often not.  The weather will often be discussed for far too long, especially during ski season.  We both wonder who the hell sent us a text at 2:43 am.

The dogs wander out into the living room, to see if anything exciting is going to happen.  You’d think they’d know by now.  Claire registers complete disgust with our inactivity and eventually goes back to bed.

Claire dead asleep

So when we set an alarm these days, it’s for one of three possible reasons:

  • Gary is going to meet up with his ski group and sets the alarm for 5:30 on very dark and snowy Sunday mornings. This is one of many, many reasons why I no longer ski. He likes a good parking place near the ski lodge. It’s kind of like how he tries so hard to fill his gas tank to an even dollar’s worth. I don’t get it, but it makes him happy.
  • Gary is going fly fishing and has to get there before the fish wake up. He’s explained this to me many times but it always makes me sleepy. Like fishing does, in general.
  • The Semi-Annual Wine Sale at the Grocery Outlet starts at 8:00 a.m.

This morning, it’s the Wine Sale. I’ll get up for this one!

Before coffee, he jumps into the hot shower, whistling and warbling his own personal version of “We’re Off To See The Wizard.” I hang back, coffee in hand, wondering who this man is. Into the shower WITHOUT coffee?

Like most of us, he tends to take the same amount of time in the shower each day. But not today. Some body parts are completely ignored (I don’t know which ones) and in four minutes flat, he is out and toweling off. I’ve never seen a 75% reduction in shower time before.

Perhaps he sustained a blow to the head during the night that I do not know about. He rushes around the bedroom, grabbing clothes and disturbing the sleeping, aging dogs who do not believe in getting up early unless treats or rides in the car are involved.

I hurry to catch up, knowing that he’ll leave me behind if I don’t display the proper enthusiasm for alcohol in these early morning hours. It’s a long drive to town and Gary plots his purchases like he’s going into battle. He does the same thing when he drags me into a buffet restaurant.  He explains his strategy of what each plate will include; it’s exhausting, not to mention fattening.

What I haven’t told you is what we did last night. We had a “pre-wine-sale tasting” at our house. What happens is, Gary goes to the Grocery Outlet the day before – no kidding — and purchases bottles of any “serious contenders” that he may want to purchase in quantity at the next day’s sale. Here are the contenders for this sale:

Pre-wine sale tasting lineup

So, here’s how it went down:  As you can see, we opened all nine of them.  We got out some crackers to cleanse our delicate and uneducated palates.  We grabbed two tablets, pens, and wine glasses.  And we got down to the work of Serious Drinking, I mean Tasting.

Gary taste testing wine at home

Fast-forward 20 minutes:  We have methodically and enthusiastically tasted all 9 wines.  There are four that we plan to buy at the wine sale, but our notes are difficult to read, for some unknown reason.  Gary is asleep in his recliner in the living room.  Older guys do that a lot.

Gary asleep after frosty paws - FP cropped out

I sigh and pull out a block of brie for dinner.  Yeah, I’m a health freak.

But I digress.  Back to the Wine Sale.

All of this pre-sale debauchery, of course, makes it even more remarkable that Gary jumped out of bed and into immediate action this morning.  There is only one possible reason for this energy surge:

The Smell of a Good Deal.

Smells evoke memories, both good and bad.  Stop and smell the roses?  Fresh bread baking?  Yeah, whatever.  But the Smell of a Good Deal is the most luscious one of all, at least in our household.

We arrive LATE at the Wine Sale, at 8:15 a.m.  The small wine department is already crowded with over-caffeinated bargain hunters and their carts; one eye on the wines they are looking for, the other eye on what others are buying.  There are other passionate wine bargaineers who always show up; Gary is not the only one.  But I don’t see their wives there; I wonder what this means.

There’s one rich guy who always shows up, grabs a flat-bed cart, and fills it.  Gary is somewhat more restrained with a shopping cart but he soon graduates to two carts.

He can’t buy a full case of his #1 pick, only a half-case.  Gary swears under his breath, but I can hear him.  It’s a frenzy.  Do you think the 2003 is holding up?  No, I even think the 2004 is starting to turn.  That lady over there says the 2006 is wicked good.  What’s a guy to do?

I step away to make room for his second cart, peruse the Ben & Jerry’s selection, and check back every few minutes.  He alternates between asking detailed questions of his competition and giving detailed advice about his favorite wines.  He soon draws a small crowd.  I saw one woman actually taking notes.  Ex-Professor Green is in his element once again.

Wine Sale (3)

Believe it or not, during a 5-day wine sale, after tasting some new ones at home each night, we can’t help but go back and get more…of something…on two more occasions.  By the end of the sale, we have spent a whopping $799 for 9 cases of wine BUT (and here’s the deal):  We’ve SAVED $1252 over retail.

I can’t even get all of the wine in our pantry in one photo:

Wine sale

Truth be told, other than the semi-annual wine sales and the occasional trip to Trader Joe’s for cheap chardonnay, we don’t buy much wine.  Of course, why should we have to?

Gary looks at the receipts with unrestrained glee  – Look how much money we saved!  Of course, he can only drink so much wine in the remainder of his lifetime.  I look at the receipts and say – Look how much money we spent!

If there is a moral to the story, this is it:  You can go broke saving money.  But you don’t have to be sober while you’re doing it.


Thanks for reading.  I know how busy you are.




5 thoughts on “Short Showers and Cheap Wine

  1. We resemble that! Well, sort of. Maybe not quite as “enthusiastic” as Gary, but, what the hell, he’s an enthusiastic sorta guy. You’re right about one thing – no alarm clocks – one of the brightest features about retirement.


  2. Your descriptions of both retired life and the wine sale cracked me up! I agree the best thing about retirement is not waking to an alarm clock! And the idiosyncrasies of husbands–love it (of course I am sure they have a few they could share about us!).


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