Advent, Day 5 – December 5, 2021

Day 5 – California Pinot Grigio and Mediterranean Gouda

What a happy day – how can one go wrong with a playful California white varietal that is light and refreshing and actually fun to drink? Pinot Grigio always sounds to me as if it should be the name of one of those carefree typecast Italian guys, always smiling, full of life. That’s kind of what this varietal is like – nothing serious, just a barrel of laughs. And what should accompany it but another flavored gouda. I mean, how many different ways can you think of to throw something at a tub of gouda to see if it will work together, as if the gouda is simply a canvas and it accepts any color of paint, a Jackson Pollock cheese? No ingredients list, but I detected some sun-dried tomato, some basil, (some garlic?)… a lighter touch than the pesto-infused example of Day 4. And the combo worked, and as I sat there at 11:00 pm sampling today’s pairing, I could almost feel the warm Mediterranean sun on my neck, smell that seaside breeze stirring olive tree leaves. Salute!

A Fateful Tale – “An Ice Skating Party, a Twist of Fate”

I promised to tell the tale of how Pat and I met back on Day 3 of this Advent calendar, and included an mp3 file of the song Kelley Hart and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg wrote and Kelley performed for our 50th anniversary ten years ago. So here goes:

People talk about fate bringing them together. We do as well. Of all the cockamamy, mind-blowing, absurdist comedies of how the planets align and the paths of strangers intersect, ours is truly dependent on some quite incredible happenstances.

Let me take you back. December 28, 1958. Beckemeyer, Illinois, population 1000 (it had been that number for decades), a little village in the middle of southern Illinois corn and dairy farms. I was 17, a senior in high school, my dad had died of leukemia in May, and my mom, brother, and two sisters were getting by after a trying year. We were in that lull between Christmas and New Years, Still high on Holiday spirit, low on dad’s absence. Restless, I asked mom for the car keys and got in our 1951 Hudson Hornet – a black beetle of a car, and drove to La Paloma to pick up a pack of Pall Malls, played a couple rounds of pinball. Still a bit aimless, I left there and pulled up to Highway 50. Two choices: east or west, 3 miles to Carlyle, 5 miles to Breese. I turn left, thinking of Wally’s Diner and a burger.

Highway 50 was one of those old two-lane, narrow highways. The stretch between Beckemeyer and Breese crossed Shoal Creek, and a mile or so of levee where there were no shoulders, just a 15 foot drop to bottomland slough and woods. Not a stretch you would choose to drive if the roads were icy, but no problem this clear, almost springlike night.

So I was driving along, just crossing Shoal Creek bridge, when a car I recognized came from the west. Jim, a guy a year older who lived a block over from us flashed his lights and braked hard. I looked back, saw him waving out the window, so I pulled over in my lane. He yelled, got out of his car, ran over. “Hey, this is great. I was going to go to Carlyle tonight to hang out with Connie and she said when she asked her friend Patty Means if she wanted me to pick up Carl and bring him over, she said no, she wanted to meet Roy Beckemeyer. I didn’t see your car when I drove by your house, so I drove over here and got Carl, but if you want to go, I’ll take him back and drop him off and meet you at the Phillips 66 station in Beckemeyer and pick you up.”

I looked over at Jim’s car, and could see Carl’s face looking back at us. “Sure, I said, I’d like to do that.”

“Great!” said Jim. We both swung 180s and he headed for Breeze, I drove back to Beckemeyer, parked and waited.

So here we have a couple of coincidences already. I turned left, not right. I wasn’t home when Jim went by to pick me up. Jim recognised my car as we both happened to be passing in the dark night on the levee road. I stopped instead of just driving on. And he was willing to take Carl back and tell him Patty had wanted him to pick me up instead of Carl (who she was currently dating).

Jim picks me up, we drive to Carlyle. Patty opens the front door, Connie standing behind her. Jim walks in. I follow. “Here we are – I just happened to run into Roy on the highway over near Breese,” he said. Just dumb luck, I guess. I said “Hi.” Patty looked a little surprised, but smiled. We chatted, had a great time, I asked if I could call her and if she would be interested in catching a movie on New Year’s Eve. She agreed. Jim and I left after a couple of hours, and I was really happy. This holiday was looking up.

We started going out and never looked back. In a few months we were going steady. I just under 3 years we were married and heading off for this life together.

I didn’t know how fateful our meeting REALLY was until a month or two after we first met. I asked her one night why she had asked Jim to bring me over that night instead of just picking Carl up. Here’s the scoop.

She had been at an ice-skating party a couple weeks before Christmas. She saw this guy she liked the looks of, and asked one of her friends who he was. Her friend said, “Oh, that’s Roy Beckemeyer.” Patty took note. And, being in a festive mood that night we met, she blurted out to Connie that he should bring me over instead of Carl. The only problem was that I was NOT at the skating party. She had seen someone else, and her friend had mistaken that guy for me. So when I showed up at her house with Jim, she was totally surprised. Fortunately, she didn’t let on, didn’t show her disappointment, and I was lucky that we hit it off.

Now, that is a tale of fate and coincidence! And those little quirks of fate led us to being together now for 63 years, married for 60. So lift a glass, let’s toast fate and happenstance and teen-age love that blossoms and matures. Hallelujah!

~Roy Beckemeyer, December 5, 2021