Short Story Preview: A Conversation with a Wine Master – Malcolm Allen
When I was a young man, and that was quite some time ago, I never mentioned that I was a keen golfer to any of the girls whom I dated. You see, unlike today, golf wasn’t synonymous with glamour and money and its players weren’t celebrities. Rugby, soccer, even cricket were sports that would impress a lady but golf, with its image of old men, pipes and baggy trousers, no way. After all, I am sure no modern stud would try and pull a ‘chick’ in clubland (and I don’t mean the golf course) by explaining that he was not into ‘throwing a few shapes tonight, luv, as I have an important lawn bowls match tomorrow.’
In those times entertaining was different as well. For example, when you took a girl out to dinner you paid, she didn’t. It was only after a few dates that young Sheila might suggest going halves, which of course you refused. In some restaurants there were even two menus, one with the prices on, and one without; and guess who was handed the priced one by the snooty waiter? An early skill I developed was to remain expressionless as I cast my eye down the expensive list, and refrain from wincing when Sheila innocently ordered a costly one.
Ordering the wine was always a stressful moment, worse than lining up that fourth vital putt. For some reason you imagined everyone would sense your ignorance but as chances happen, the waiter, let alone your girl friend, probably knew as little as you. I well remember ordering adessert wine with a main course, a curry, and compounding the embarrassment by spooning the second highly flavoured course onto Sheila’s plate, only to find that it was the hot towels we were supposed to use to wipe our face and hands.