Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Dog Named Blitz, Chapter 8 "4th Year, Part 9"

Fresh off of the best duck hunt of my life, I broke out my cell phone and called my mom, and she cheerfully answered.  "Hi, honey, happy birthday!" she said, "How's your hunt going?"  "It went great, mom.  I actaully took Blitz out with me, and we're done.  We limited out," I proudly replied.  I told her all about the hunt, and she seemed as thrilled as I was. 
"Mom, what do you think about getting out for a quick round of golf?  It's a gorgeous day.  Nobody should be on the course.  What do you say, you want to play?"  She answered in the affirmative, and would call of an 11:00 tee time.  That would leave me time to drive home, put Blitz up, get a quick shower, and get to the course.  Perfect. 
On the ride home, my cell phone was a constant buzz of people calling to wish me a happy birthday, and I was giddy to tell the story of my morning hunt with Blitz over and over again.  Upon arriving home, I performed my necessary chores and quickly got back on the road, headed to the golf course, and met my mom for our appointed tee time.  The formal tee time was completely unnecessary, as a Monday in October turns out to not be a very popular day to golf.  Mom and I had the course nearly to ourselves. 
We started out, both playing some good golf.  Both of us were keeping our shots our of trouble, and our round was clipping along at a good pace.  Our round of 18 flew by, and by the time I tallied up our very good scores, dropped mom back at her car, and packed my clubs away, it was 1:30.  A full round of golf, normally a four hour endeavor, in two and a half!  Now what was I going to do?! 
I hugged good bye with mom, and headed back into town, answering the birthday voicemails that were on my phone waiting for me.  One of them was from my buddy Joe, who was a Minnesota State Representative.  I told him the story of the my day thus far, and how my designated day of self pity was turning out to be pretty damn good.  Arriving back into town, I realized that I could probably use a hair cut, and pulled into a local shop for a quick trim.  The shop was very quiet for a Monday afternoon, and my cut was completed in short order.  Upon completion, I noticed it was now 2:05.  Now what was I going to do?! 
I also noted a voicemail from a 612 interchange number - downtown Twin Cities- and that it lasted two minutes and forty two seconds.  Who the heck called me, and what in the world did they say for such a long time?  I dialed into the voice mailbox, and immediately got my answer.  The voice was quite recognizable, even without the introduction, "Happy birthday, Mike!  Hey, this is Governor Tim Pawlenty.  Say, I'm riding around with Representative Joe Hoppe today, doing some campaigning work, and he told me today was your 40th birthday, and that you had been taking things kind of hard.  He also told me you've already shot a limit of ducks and a round of golf!  How's that for a great start to a birthday?" 
On and on the message went.  "Mike, don't worry about being in your 40's.  These are your prime earning years.  Your best years. You're a the peak of your game..."  Wow, a personal pep talk from the Governor.  He continued, "Joe also tells me you played a vital role in the dove hunting legislation.  What great work you guys performed.  I was very proud to sign that bill, and what it means for generations of Minnesota sportsmen and women for years to come..." And on and on. For a full two minutes and forty two seconds.  Politicians do have a fantastic gift of gab, and the Governor, in particular, was no slouch.  Could my day get any better? 
I headed home, made a light lunch as I wanted to save myself for the big birthday dinner that evening, and settled in on the couch for a quick nap.  Vera arrived home before I knew it, and we immediately got cleaned up and ready to head downtown to dinner. 
We were headed to Manny's, Minneapolis' finest steakhouse, and I was bringing with me a bottle of 1966 Bordeaux that I had been saving for years for a special occasion.  My brother is a huge wine expert, and when he got married years before, he gave all of his groomsmen a bottle of wine with a vintage of a date that represented something meaningful for the groomsman.  It may have a been a year in which they met, worked on a specific deal, or graduated from college.  For me, it represented the year in which my brother was born, and it remains one of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever received.  The only problem was that the bottle was 38 years old, and a lot can go wrong with a bottle of wine over that period if it had not been cared for properly.  Would it be any good?  We were finally going to find out. 
We arrived at Manny's, and were welcomed by the staff.  As we settled into our booth, reviewing our menus, our waiter brought over a bottle of champagne.  "What's this?" I asked.  "A mister Kevin Sidders requested that we serve you this bottle in honor of your birthday," the waiter replied.  My brother had called ahead, and had a wonderful bottle of champagne ready for us to kick off the evening.  Could this day get any better? 
After pouring the champagne, the waiter looked at the bottle we had brought, sitting on the table, and asked, "Sir, would you like us to decant the '66?"  Ah, the moment of truth.  "Yes," I replied, "Let's see what we got."  The bottle was opened, and decanted carefully.  The cork was in questionable condition, as wine had seeped well into it.  If the wine had found its way to the top, it would likely be ruined. 
My wife and I had a leisurely dinner, with me telling story after story about my incredible day.  We finished our salads, and the champagne, and as our steaks were being served, the Bordeaux was poured.  What will it be?  I swirled and smelled.  Things looked promising.  I then took a taste.  It was perfect.  Perfect.  While my palate is not a sophisticated one, that wine was the finest I have ever tasted.  My wife raised a toast to my birthday, and we dove into Minneapolis' finest steak. 
By the end of our meal, my head was spinning.  While the champagne and wine played a role in that, it was really the day, my whole day, that had me high.  It was originally a day for me to wallow in my sorrows, to feel sorry for myself, and to be depressed.  It was to be an ugly, black day.  At least that's how I had planned it.  And by the time it had reached its completion, next to the day I got married, it turned out to be the best day that I had in my life.  Ever.

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