Rent a car. Bring friends, Irish ones. Forget the Sat Nav and get lost. In the beginning you will all enjoy the sun and the beach, especially Biarritz. In Spain you will lose your patience, especially by the time you get to Valencia. Try to enjoy Barcelona. When you start to make your way back through France you will hate each other.
Try to salvage the trip. Go to Montpellier. Get lost in the back country. Really lost. So lost that you don’t see any other cars. Be sure that your Irish driver stays on the right side of the road.
Find the signs with grapes and vines. Follow those.
The driver will get frustrated. The front passenger won’t help ease his frustration even though he has the only map. Put the book that you are reading down. Enjoy the view of rows and rows of grapes. It looks hot out there. Appreciate the air conditioned vehicle for a just a moment.
When the grape signs cease, take a left only because it looks promising. Once you are a good mile in the middle of nowhere, there will be a house–eventually. Pull in because it looks like welcoming. Stretch.
A teenage kid shows up wearing a swim suit and no shirt. You are interrupting his afternoon. Follow him into the courtyard. Admire it. Next there is a large room that is situated like a restaurant, but with no guests, just cloth tablecloths that remind you of a picnic. Take a seat. The kid gives you all menus. Try to speak French, then end up just pointing and making hand gestures until someone in your group succeeds at communicating. “Two Euro a glass.” He disappears into a hallway. He returns with glasses of reds and whites and roses. Share with everyone.
The kid leaves when his father appears. The father is dressed casually and looks like he had been working outside all day. He leaves his shirt unbuttoned. His pink skin makes you thing he would appreciate some air conditioning too, or at least a nice breeze on such a hot, summer day.
Ask his name. “Boudoire,” he says. Automatically think of furniture, it will help you remember his name after you leave. Talk in broken english with him and remember to use hand gestures. Your friends will all buy a bottle of red or white. Buy the rose because you want to let Boudoire know that it tastes good too. He doesn’t charge you for the glasses and makes a joke about his son not knowing how to treat guests. Understand his joke enough to smile and laugh a little bit.
Feel awkward at the silences. Let Boudoire get back to work, but first ask permission to walk around. Wander through the close rows of grapes. Feel them. Tiny and firm. Wonder how hard it must be to pick all the grapes. Follow a friend into the Boudoire’s work space and think that he is bugging the man. Everyone ends up in there. Boudoire is friendly. He offers a glass straight from one of the huge wooden and plastic containers. Taste the grape juice before it becomes alcoholic. It is sweeter than Welch’s. Thank Boudoire again.
Take the newly purchased wine bottles and try to fit them in the already stuffed car. Leave when the sun is setting. Eventually find the main road again and think that being stuck in crowded car in the France may not be the worse thing in the world.
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