Freelance writer and JD candidate in early twenties.
Champagne: Commodifying the women who built an empire
"Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!" Dom Pérignon, the French monk (incorrectly) attributed to discovering champagne, is romantically remembered exclaiming this as he sipped on the effervescent beverage in the 17th century (Epstein, 2011). Pérignon was followed by many other men in characterizing the refined beverage that is enjoyed at celebrations all over the world. In thinking of champagne, one might, as Becky Sue Epstein reminisced in her history on champagne, imagine popular male characters like James Bond enigmatically sipping on champagne, or male athletes popping a bottle open in celebration. Champagne is a drink synonymous with starry skies, black cocktail dresses, and the flowery words on a page of an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. He even famously wrote, "I'll drink your champagne. I'll drink every drop of it, I don't care if it kills me." It is universally accepted as a mood setter, an aphrodisiac as Catherine the Great was convinced (Epstein, 2011). It is recognized as a toast to celebration and accomplishment, Epstein (2011) writing, “champagne continues to be the beverage that signals special occasions and celebrations, no matter what the climate or the economy is like – in life as well as on screen” (p. 11). Historically, champagne has represented this idea of celebration since is acceptance in the 17th century, however, it has celebrated men and sexualized women despite the feminist champions who built the champagne empire as a whole.
A Food Industry Profiting on Problems
Jonathan Safran Foer (2009) stared down a plate of freshly butchered ham. Inevitably refusing to eat it he writes, “Maybe there is nothing wrong with eating it. But something deep inside me — reasonable or unreasonable, aesthetic or ethical, selfish or compassionate — simply doesn’t want the meat inside my body” (p.159). Foer not wanting to consume meat is a common side effect of today’s society, where consumers grapple with the horrifying truth of some aspects of the food industry. It feels like what a person puts in the shopping cart is an individual choice, and suddenly happy meals aren’t so happy anymore.
For the Woman Sitting Alone in the Red Dress at the Restaurant
She wore a red dress coated in flowers, pully like it had been through the washing machine a few times. Tan sandals. She looked beautiful on the patio in the sun, with dark skin and hair braided down her back. I was working the Sunday shift at the Italian restaurant on the corner, my face and the soles of my shoes tired. The hostess came and told me I had her table. She sat alone. Whenever people sat to eat alone it made me emotional—like they were waiting for someone who never showed up or didn’t have someone to ask.
On Constellations as Crutches
I will never forget when I was a kid and my grandmother fell down a flight of steps and fractured her hip. The previous Wednesday morning she read her horoscope in the newspaper, mostly because it was above her daily crossword. Her horoscope, though strangely specific in the black print of her local paper, read that she should be careful walking down steps that week. That Friday she fractured her hip, and now she reads her horoscope with more religious fervor than she ever devoted to a church.
Again and Again and Again
My eyebrows knit together as I stare at my bare toes. The ceramic feel of the bathroom—the toilet seat—it’s so regular, beautifully mundane. You have a mechanical body response in bathrooms, you move through the motions, not many mistakes to be made. It’s a rather boring process actually, leaving dangerous room for rumination.
I woke up floating in the hotel’s white comforter. I sucked in a leaden breath, feeling the crack of pain in my head that made my eyes sting. There was a lump next to me, hand outstretched. I had drifted away from it during the night. He breathed slow and I sat up gingerly, curling my toes in silence. The empty wine bottle lay on the carpet on its side, a fallen soldier. Our martini glasses sat drained and squat on the nightstand. I pressed my fingers into my cheeks, squishing flesh. I then reached out and grabbed an olive, setting it on my tongue, tasting salt and gin.
The sun was fat and hot on the tracks as I woke up against the train window to the metallic screech of wheels on rails. My mouth was dry and my teeth ached, last night’s liquor sat sour in my stomach. I had to pee. I kneaded my thumb into the spot between my eyes, regretting all of it. I imagined how I must have stumbled through the station, I wondered if I even paid. Unlike most sad women in their twenties, I needed to be far away from the fuss of New York City and all of its noise. The last thing I remembered was her showing up at my door, sweating on July sidewalks, and walking into a bar alone. Looking outside the window, I thought of Maeve.