When you're a dick things often get sticky. I'm not comfortable around women crying, it makes my scalp itch and my fingers long for the feel of a throat. Veronica had become hysterical at the sight of her sister dead in the tub. Her sobbing had triggered the same in Jessica and it sounded like a reunion of Charlie Sheen ex-wives in the room. I'd had enough. I needed to start pounding the mean streets of Healdsburg. OK, they're not so much mean as they are sassy. I needed to start flatfooting the sassy streets of my town searching for the midget, or for Veronica's friends, or maybe for a reason to keep doing this stupid job. Seeing two lives cut short in their prime was a reminder, a reminder that none of us knows when we'll take our last breath, that our lives, no matter how miserable, no matter how low we've sunk, whether pedophile or wine blogger, have value. OK, wine bloggers not so much. When are they going to make them register so you know when one moves in next door to you?
I left Jessica and Veronica in the room with the sommelier float, hold the ice cream, and decided it was time to pay a visit to the M.S. bigwigs. I knew they were in town, but I wasn't sure where they were staying. Somewhere cheap. Those guys spend money like it's First Growth Bordeaux--only after they've kept it for 50 years. More than likely they were staying somewhere for free, a winery, or one of Huckleberry Jackson's guest houses. They'd be there a week and you'd have to use a pressure hose to get the smell of smarmy off the walls. I had no idea where the M.S. thugs were hanging their fake credibility for a week, but I knew someone who would--Tiny. Nothing happens in Healdsburg that Tiny doesn't know about. Tiny was the publisher and gossip columnist for our local rag, the Healdsburg Herald-Flatulence, and I knew where he was most likely to be. Dumpster diving behind Cyrus.
Sure enough, Tiny, all 550 pounds of him, was shoulder deep in the dumpster behind Cyrus, Healdsburg's finest restaurant, proud recipient of two Michelin puffs. I'd met those two puffs at the bar in Cyrus, oddly enough, but that's another story. I greeted Tiny with our usual salutation.
"Hey, Tiny, what's shakin', aside from your proctologist?"
"Don't bother me now, HoseMaster," Tiny replied, "I'm getting my prix fix."
"I've just got one question for you, Tiny. Where are those M.S. clowns staying?"
"Oh, I heard you were looking for them. This have something to do with that dead babe they found like residual sugar in Zinfandel? You know, sweet but pruney."
"No, no, I just want to talk to them about getting a client of mine into their exams." "What client? You mean that gorgeous blonde that was in your office this morning? Man, HoseMaster, she was stacked like the barrel room at Clos du Bois."
"Look, Tiny, all I want from you is where those chumps are staying. Do you know or don't you?"
"Oh, man, caviar!" Tiny lived for these gourmet moments. When I'd first met him he was rather svelte. Now he was so big he couldn't fit through the front door of his apartment. What he really needed was to lose a lot of weight, and soon, or he'd lose everything, his job, his reputation, his thong, and then losing the pounds wouldn't help, it would just make him a homeless svelter. He was devouring the caviar rapaciously; then he quickly spat it out. "Nah, that's not caviar. Mouse turds. Though they do taste of the ocean."
I was getting the feeling that Tiny didn't want to tell me where the M.S.-creants were residing. "Come on, Tiny, I don't have all day. I need to ask those guys some questions."
"Just leave it alone, HoseMaster. Don't forget, losers live longer."
"What's that supposed to mean? I'm not going to leave anything alone. I'm already in this up to my nozzle. You know, this whole thing has started to stink, Tiny, and I'm beginning to think you know something about it. Now, are you going to tell me where they are, or aren't you?"
"OK, sure, HoseMaster, I'll tell you where to look. It's somewhere dark and humid, a place a lot of wine has passed through, a lonely place no one would ever want to explore."
"They're staying in the wine caves at Bella?"
"No," Tiny said, returning to his foraging. "Bend over, shine a flashlight up your ass, maybe they're staying there."
I looked. They weren't. But I wouldn't have been surprised. There was something else up there though. A note, folded and neatly inserted. Great, I thought, just perfect, story of my life. Other guys find a mysterious message in a bottle, I get a message in a butthole.
After 19 years as a Sommelier in Los Angeles, twice named Sommelier of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers' Association, I moved to Sonoma County to explore the other aspects of the wine business. I've spent, OK wasted, 35 years learning about and teaching about and swallowing wine. I am also a judge at the Sonoma Harvest Fair, San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and the San Francisco International Wine Competition--so I can spit like a rabid llama. I know more about wine than David Sedaris and I'm funnier than James Laube. Stay tuned for an informed but jaded view of everything wine and everything else.
I'm living proof that alcohol kills brain cells.
What the Critics Are Saying About HoseMaster of Wine
"If you want a great hoot and howl moment or two...go read the HoseMaster's year-end reflections...that guy is without a doubt the funniest SOB in the blog-world...and thank him for having the brains and balls to target his laser of laughter on anybody...HoseMaster for President...HoseMaster for Blogger of the Year...although he would be the first to say the bar is so damn low for that award, he should win it every year..." --Robert Parker
"No one is immune from California sommelier and wine judge Ron Washam's skewering. He polishes that skewer with boundless enthusiasm and acuity."
"Please let this guy write the scripts for Saturday Night Live which has gotten so lame...his newest "wisdom" is worth an Emmy....I wonder if he is the genius behind all those Hitler/Parker,etc. clips? No one else is remotely as funny or as talented.And the wine world sure needs someone to poke fun at all the nonsense and phoney/baloney unsufferable crap out there."
"Washam uses his own blog, HoseMaster of Wine, to skewer the industry in general and wine blogs in particular. If your mouse scoots to your browser's close box while reading a wine blog, Washam may be the blogger for you."
--San Francisco Chronicle
"...that guy Hosemaster has real talent...if you ask me sign him up for Comedy Central...he's the funniest guy since Adam Carolla's hilarious book...IN 50 YEARS WE WILL ALL BE CHICKS..."
"Ron Washam, former sommelier, is easily the most bitingly funny blogger/wine writer that we have ever come across. He is an equal opportunity crusader who pillories big wineries and amateur bloggers alike, as well as everything and everyone in between...One needs a sense of humor and a tolerance for earthiness to enjoy reading The Hosemaster. We must have both because this guy deserves a wider audience, in our humble opinion." --Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine
"In my opinion, and that of many others, his blog is one of the best. And in terms of satirical or parodic wine blogs, it has no peer. Ron’s alert eye catches every pretense and skewers it with laugh out loud mercilessness."
"This site should carry a warning label. It's sort of a Dave Barry/George Carlin approach to wine. The Hosemaster (real name Ron Washam) skewers fellow bloggers and industry savants with glee, while offering hilarious wine guides such as his Honest Guide to Grapes..."
--Paul Gregutt, Seattle Times
"Washam is a skilled wine judge (I have judged with him) who is willing to judge wine double blind, in public. To my knowledge, Parker does not do this and never has. So Ron's credentials are in place, and so is his sense of the absurd."
--Dan Berger, VintageExperiences
"...I consider Ron a very talented writer and I’ve long been an admirer of his scathing wit..."
"And if any free sites think they can conquer the world, there’s always the Hosemaster to take ‘em down a notch."
--Tyler Colman "Dr. Vino"
"Those of you who know Ron either love or hate him, because he throws jabs like a punch drunk boxer, and we’re all in the firing line. He’ll throw them if he hates you, and he’ll throw them if he loves you. He’s a satirist of exceptional quality."
--Jo Diaz "Juicy Tales by Jo Diaz"
"I must say you are an idiot. I've never liked you. I have no idea why people find you funny."