What wine goes with luggage?
That was the family obligation keeping me busy last night. My parents are going on vacation and need to borrow my brother's suitcase (they've used it more than he and his wife have), and while Dad is up there three days every week, he's forgotten to bring the suitcase home with clockwork regularity. So my brother suggested that he might get home early, let me borrow his car, and pick up the suitcase and the video camera that Mom says they won't need. There's a bit of a hidden agenda: except for Christmas and New Year's they've been working every day and need their cars, so I haven't had the chance to drive when it was daylight. My brother was trying to suggest that, maybe, perhaps, I might like to go to a store, or a library, or the barber, or something else while it was open.
So, Dad's understanding was that my brother and his wife were eager to see me and take me out to a fine restaurant and do something special. He added -- to both of us -- that if I wanted to be out all night, say from going in to New York City, that was fine, just give him a call so he could get Mom to drive him in to work. On the phone my brother and I confirmed that the plan was I'd go up for the suitcase and camera, and while we'd probably get something to eat and talk a while it wasn't going to be more.
Still, Dad insisted I should dress up a bit to suit wherever it was we'd get dinner, and I had to bring my hostess a wine (he picked one out). We went to a diner, where it turned out my sister-in-law was right about the matzoh ball soup being good, and I had a Philly cheesesteak that had more grease than everything I've ever eaten in Singapore combined, and the waitress strangely ignored my sister-in-law to the point we wondered what was going on. And then we shared stories about my brother's ridiculous friends screwing up their job hunts, or cats we have known, or whether we'd be able to tell when Dad started going senile. (The compelling competing theory is he doesn't turn his hearing aid on -- he's been known to do that on purpose -- and just goes on based on what he imagines people tell him.) And I borrowed the suitcase, camera, and the blazer my Dad had loaned my brother and I got home altogether too late.
The wine presented to my baffled brother and sister-in-law was a Riesling. They imagine they'll give it back to Dad for Easter.
Trivia: The Roman aqueduct at Sens averaged a drop of half a meter per kilometer of distance. Source: A History of Mechanical Inventions, Abbott Payson Usher.
Currently Reading: The Invention of Clouds, Richard Hamblyn.