A cleanse she never knew she needed
"No, I am headed to Costco's to grab a few things. I will be home in time to catch the show, I promise. I will call you as soon as I am on the way, Charlotte. Text me if you want me to grab anything while I am here. I glove you! Later." Charlotte is Kristen's bestfriend. They have been friends since the age of 10. They went through grade school together, college, graduate school, and now they are roommates in a beautiful condo in Florida. Their 'I glove you' saying started in their freshman year of college when they vowed to always 'Love and Protect' each other, the way a leather glove does a hand. It was cute, cheesy and theirs alone. Just like their friendship.
Tonight was the two-hour season finale of their all-time favorite show "Doctors in Love". It is a reality show depicting the lives of prominent doctors who pursue their careers while also trying to juggle a well-balanced love life in the process. The two ladies always have dinner, snacks, and wine when watching their show together and tonight would be no different.
"I wonder what kind of wine she wants tonight," Kristen asks herself as she enters the wholesale grocer. She began to grab her phone to text Charlotte and find out but she stopped herself. "I'll just stay safe with the usual. I can't go wrong with that right?" A rhetorical question she often asked herself. "Chocolate, Cheese, Crackers, and Fruit," Kristen chanted to herself several times as a reminder of what to get. She walked around collecting her usual items and arrived at the produce section. "Strawberries, Cherries, Grapes, and Raspberries," she stated as she grabbed each item. As she reached for the Raspberries she heard a voice call out to her.
"Try something different!" The voice belted out from behind her. Kristen paused; she looked around nervously. She thought it might be the voice in her head. Then as proceeded to grab her berries and add them to the cart she heard, "Maybe next time." She searched around, this time with a grimace, frustrated at the fact that she could not find the source of the voice. Kristen found herself moving toward the checkout line while scanning for the person who had been watching her. In her stride, she locked eyes with Chris.
Chris was a Wine Connoisseur. Kristen found him stationed at a sampler kiosk, across from the produce section, representing Bright Cellars. He often came out twice a week, same day and time, every week to offer the patrons a tasty sample of different delectable wines and to see if expanding their palate would interest them in a monthly wine delivery service that caters to their taste while offering new and exciting wine experiences.
After locking eyes with Chris, Kristen found herself in a bit of a trance. Slowly assessing the man behind the kiosk she noticed his full wide eyes, his smooth dark brown skin tone, and a smile that would give Lance Gross a run for his acting career. When she realized she had been staring and possibly starting to drool a little; she snapped out of it. "Uhm, were you shouting at me?" She said accusingly. "Correction, I did not shout, I projected my voice to be heard. However, yes, it was me speaking to you." Chris replied kindly. "Would you like to try a sample of this 2019 French Colombard? It's a rich white wine called 'Meet Cute' from California. It would complement the soft cheese you have in your cart very well." Both astonished and concerned Kristen's response addresses the latter. "How do you know what cheese I have in my cart and you never explained why you were shouting at me, Sir." Chris shares a soft smile. "I did not shout and you never asked why I spoke to you in your initial question, only if it was I who did the speaking. And to answer your other question, it is my job to pay attention to the patrons in the store and what they have in their cart so that I can help them by knowing what they may like before they do. Oh, and by the way my name is Chris; It is nice to meet you, miss.....?" At this point, Kristen was both intrigued and flustered by Chris’s mannerisms and eloquent nature. "Kristen, I apologize, my name is Kristen. You can call me Kay if you like, all my friends do." She replied nicely. "I like the name Kristen, I will stick with that." He nodded respectfully. "Now, about trying the 'Cute'?" He asked. "The cute what?" Kristen responded confused. "The wine I mentioned, care to try a sample?" He asked while handing her a small cup. "Oh right; sorry, Uhm yeah sure, I suppose." she hesitantly accepted.
With her eyes as lit as a Christmas tree, Kristen stated, "Wow, this tastes amazing!" she gushed. "What exactly do you taste?" he inquired. "Well, it tastes citrusy but balanced with a hint of sweetness almost like it might have honey or something in it. I like it! What is it called again?" Enthused by her response Chris answers, " It is called 'Meet Cute', it is very bright and pairs well with rich fish and also white meat such as chicken."
"What a coincidence! My friend Charlotte and I are having fish tacos for dinner tonight. This would be awesome." Kristen was excited about this new tasty discovery. "A coincidence indeed and fish tacos sound perfect. If you enjoyed that sample, I think you would love the 'Humdrum'. It is a medium light-body Pinot Noir from Monterey, California. It also would pair perfectly with your fish or even roasted vegetables. Which would you like to cleanse your palate: bread, water, or both?" He noticed her confusion and further explained. "Any time you are trying out a new wine or tasting multiple samples; you always want to cleanse your palate in between." With more understanding, Kristen responds, "Both please." She cleanses her tongue then proceeded to accept the next sample. Kristen tries to contain her surprise and excitement causing a slight squeal and Chris takes notice. "Yeah I know, the name of this wine is quite interesting seeing as how the word itself means lacking excitement or variety and dull; yet the wine is everything but that, right?" Kristen swallowed and quickly responded, "Yes! I am getting everything from fruity to earthy and warm, it is truly amazing! I will take both bottles of the samples I tried. Thank you so much!" Chris obliged. He handed her one bottle of each, gave her a discount coupon for 20% off, and also presented her with his business card that had his direct number on the back. "I am so glad that you enjoyed trying something new today. I'm here quite often and I always see you shopping for the same items as if everything else is off-limits. Don't forget that the world is yours and there are plenty of new experiences waiting to be explored, and I am not just speaking of wine. Call or text me if I can help you further cleanse and expand your palate." He said with a wink.
Kristen was at such a loss for words she could not respond. She tried her best to keep her jaw from hitting the ground by turning around and walking away as fast as she could to checkout with all her items, including those she received from Chris. From the moment she left the store until she got home Kristen hadn't said a word. She was physically moving but mentally stuck. That is until she walked through the door to the home she shares with Charlotte. At that moment, life resumed at its regular pace.
With the aroma of pan-seared fish, spices, and freshly steamed cilantro-lime rice rushing up both her nostrils; Kristen snaps out of her trance as she hears Charlotte speak. "Finally! Are you alright, Kay? I tried calling and texting you but you never answered. I thought something happened to you. Did you at least pick up the avocados as I asked?" Kristen now trying to pick up the pace responds, " Uhm Char-." Charlotte cuts her off, " If you didn't that's fine; dinner is already done. Also, the show is starting, can you turn to the right channel?" Kristen, still moving slowly; tries again, "Char, you will never bel-". "Nevermind Kay, I got it. You are really off your game and tonight is the season finale! Put some pep in your step girl. Bring the wine and snacks, I have the plates and glasses." Charlotte states.
While the show is going, Charlotte is fully tuned in but Kristen finds herself all the way tuned out, daydreaming...
"Hey Kristen, I’m glad you called. How are you?" The sound of Chris’s voice is even more enticing now than before. "I'm okay. I don't know why I called to be honest." She replied. "It's okay; it's my job to know before you do, remember?" He rebutted. "Are you free right now?" he asked. "Yes, I am....." said Kristen. "Great, text me your address and I'll have a car over to you in about two hours. You don't have to worry about attire everything you need will be in the car. Is that enough time for you?" All she said was "Yes!" and disconnected the call. "What am I doing?" she thought briefly. "Well he seems to know what he's doing and I haven't been disappointed yet with me stepping out of my comfort zone, so here goes everything!" She sent the address and hopped in the shower to get ready. Next thing she knew; she was in a limousine and inside waiting was a beautiful black shimmery dress, the perfect matching heels, a stunning bouquet, and a special note addressed to her that read: To The Beautiful Kristen, I plan to make tonight both everything and absolutely nothing you could have ever dreamed of. The next twenty-four hours will be all about you exploring the tastes of life and embracing everything there is to offer your expanding palate. Please enjoy the assortment of palate cleansers in front of you to help prepare you for the journey. Thank you for trusting me to guide you, see you soon! - Chris. Kristen finished reading, wiped her teary face, and saw a plate of bread, olives, celery, pineapples, sliced Roast Beef, and a huge glass of water. She couldn't believe all of these things were considered taste cleansers. She indulged as recommended and oddly enough when the limo arrived at its destination and the driver opened her door to take her hand; she emerged from the car feeling renewed, refreshed, and reinvented as she gazed upon this big beautiful private jet with the words BRIGHT CELLARS spelled out on its side.
Not knowing what to expect, she boarded the jet with the assistance of the flight attendants and turned to find seating. She looked up from the floor of the jet to see him, Chris, standing there looking more dapper than she could have ever imagined with a glass of wine in his hand, for her. Without saying a word she accepted the glass and took a sip. "This, Miss Kristen, is the crowd-pleasing 2019 Merlot called Jetbird. It is beautifully balanced, with aromas of red berries, baking spices, and violets. Bold tannins, full-body, and bright acidity on the palate. It pairs perfectly with hard cheeses and cured meat such as the aged parmesan and sliced prosciutto you'll find over to your left. Please, get comfortable and allow me to gui-"
suddenly Charlotte's voice took over. "Hellooooooo earth to Kristen did you even hear a word I said?!" she yelled. "Where did you get this wine? It's not the usual but I love it! Solid choice girl!" Charlotte stated both proud and surprised at the change. "Uhm, look up Bright Cellars," Kristen replied still kind of foggy. "I have to go make a call!" She took Chris’s card out of her pocket and smiled before running into the room to dial.....
"OH AND DON'T FORGET TO CLEANSE YOUR PALATE BEFORE TRYING THE NEXT BOTTLE! THAT'S VERY IMPORTANT!" Kristen Shouted matter-of-factly. Charlotte had no clue what her friend meant. "Cleanse my palate? Wait, there's another bottle?...... Hmph," Charlotte shrugged and kept sipping happily to her heart’s content while watching the show…
The phone rings... "Hello?" she continues, "Hey, It's me, Kristen." Chris replies, "Oh hey Kristen, I'm glad you called! How are you?"
To be continued…