Monday, August 15, 2016
Wine Critics in Hell Act 3
Hell appears to be a very sleazy natural wine bar in Lodi occupied by four dead wine critics, a Stranger, a single woman, and the bartender, who does not speak. The dead wine critics seem particularly restless as the scene opens, caged animals pacing about, while the bartender polishes the Riedel stemware, “Riedel—The Official Stemware of Eternal Damnation”®, every other one of which breaks at the stem. Ms. Feiring, the only woman in Hell, which may be the very definition of Hell, is sitting coquettishly at the bar, drinking her bottomless glass of natural wine Rosé. ACT 1 is here, ACT 2 is here.
Feiring: (flirtatiously) Why, I wish you boys would stop pacing like that. A woman gets tired of men who ignore her. (fanning herself with a copy of Le Pan, the only wine magazine in Hell) Why does it have to be so hot in here? (to Parker) It’s hotter than those 100 Point Napa Valley Cabs you love so much, Bobby. May I call you Bobby? I like the name Bobby. I once had a gentleman caller named Bobby. Oh, he was so handsome, and so natural. He had the prettiest skin, all shiny and smooth, like the taint of a newly minted Master Sommelier, before life tears her a new one. We were lovers, Bobby and I. Well, lovers in every way that really matters. Not the dirty way you boys are thinking about—I see how you stare at me. (No one is looking at her.) Does it shock you that I had a true love, a man who wanted me, who wanted to marry me? Bobby appreciated my feminine terroir. He always said a good old fashioned plough was what I needed. Not some cold mechanical thing. He was so romantic, my Bobby. He used to tell me that he had a secret spray, his own “magic tea” he called it, that he wanted to squirt all over me! Isn’t that a lovely thought? A man spraying his magic tea all over you? But only on a Fruit Day. He said it had to be a Fruit Day. He never did squirt his secret spray all over me, though I asked him to over and over and over. Made me wonder what he meant by “Fruit Day.”
Feiring opens her purse and removes a cigarette from her cigarette case. Laube rushes over to light it for her, but he is drunk, and tries to light her cigarette with a tiny statue of Jon Bonné he keeps in his pocket. Lifesize statue. Parker casually walks over, eyeing Feiring skeptically, shoves Laube aside, and lights her cigarette.
Feiring: Why, thank you, Bobby. (Parker grunts.) Is it OK if I smoke? I find smoking so relaxing. It leaves that little taste of death in my mouth, like drinking Vin Jaune from the Jura. Not that you boys know what that tastes like, now do you?
Parker: Smoke away, Alice. We’re all dead here anyway.
Kramer: Speak for yourself. Bobby. I might be dead, but my wine books are immortal.
There is a stunned silence. And then everyone begins to laugh at once. Laube pisses himself again.
Suckling: You know, Kramer, you really are a jackass. Do you really think you’re in this fucking bar because you had talent, because you “made sense” of shit? You’re just one of us, one of the blowhards you’ve always looked down on. You never helped make sense of anything wine to anybody that wanted to love wine. You were in love with the sound of your own voice. Narcissus staring at his reflection in a glass of DRC Montrachet. You never even loved wine, Kramer. You only played at loving wine. Writing about wine for you was like karaoke—you just mimicked being real, and waited for the applause of the idiots who sat there and listened to you. (Suckling mimes a mic drop.)
Feiring: (raising her voice) Boys! Boys! Don’t fight over me, boys. Please, I’m a delicate flower. I have plenty of stamen for all your heat-packing pistils. I am not your precious vitis vinifera, I am a woman, I am not self-pollinating! We have eternity. There’s enough of me for everybody. (Parker breaks wind.)
Parker: (threateningly) Let me tell you something, Alice. You don’t belong here. I don’t know how you got in here, I don’t know who decides these things, but this isn’t the place for you. Not among us. You’re not one of us. We see through you. That sultry thing, it doesn’t work here. (He gets close to her, right in her face.) I know what you want. I know why you’re here. (She glances aside, blows smoke from her cigarette at Laube). Look at me. (She doesn’t.) I said look at me! (Parker grabs her face, turns it to his, and kisses her. It’s a longer kiss than either expect.) How’s that for fucking natural? (Alice spits in his face. He just smiles.)
Suckling: Our dolly spits like a llama.
Stranger: (speaking quietly but firmly) I brought her here.
Parker: Then get her out! Can’t you see, Stranger? She’s here to unravel us, one at a time.
Stranger: (sarcastically) Yes, Bobby. This is Hell. Were you expecting a medal? Guess what? Hell is your Lifetime Achievement Award.
Feiring: I believe I’m getting the vapors. My, all of this anger, all of this testosterone. (She turns to Laube.) Jimmy, will you help me? Bobby is being a brute. And so hedonistic! I feel so violated. You’re the real gentleman here, Jimmy. I know that. Come over here and take my hand. Take me for a walk outside. I love the smell of sulfur on a warm night, it reminds me of my favorite wines.
Laube stands up slowly, clearly still inebriated, gently brushes his hair with his hands, runs a finger over his moustache, and reaches for Feiring’s extended hand. Parker looks disgusted. Suckling is smirking. Kramer is pouting from lack of attention.
Stranger: Oh, you can’t go outside, Alice, not with Jimmy, and not with anyone else. Not until you’ve finished what I’ve brought you here to do, and maybe not even then. Like it or not, Alice, you’ve been locked in a room with these…men…for all of your professional life. That’s what Hell is about, Love. Discovering that who you hated in life were those who were the ones who were the most like you. You’ll see, all of you will see, as you unravel them, as you diminish and ruin them, it is your self you have damned to Hell.
Kramer: Can we talk about me now?