A man sits in his study, a book in his hand and a full glass of inky Cabernet by his side.
There’s a sheepish knock at the door.
“Come in,” the man says without lifting his eyes from the page.
The door creaks slowly and a young man, no more than 17 with his face long and his eyes wet and red, slips silently into the room.
His sock-muffled steps are barely whispers on the wooden floor. “Dad?” his voice weak and unsure:
“can we talk?”
With his son standing by his side, his eyes are finally pulled from the page.
The anguish in his son’s voice is enough to tear him from the fictitious world where he finds comfort and respite.
“Of course,” he says, placing his bookmark and closing the tome on his lap: “what’s wrong?”
The boy chokes back a sob and gathers his thoughts, his father waits patiently.
“Wh…” he clears his throat: “Why are girls so mean?”
A subtle smile contorts his father’s face and a gentle nod says “I knew this would come. Someday.”
His father breathes deep and stares at the velvety ripples across his favorite drink.
He reaches, and gently lifts the cup to his son. “Have a sup.”
The boy smells first, as his father does at dinner, then sips.
“Bleh!” He exclaims: “how do you drink that!?”
The father chuckles and accepts the cup yet again.
Son, women are like wine.”
He takes another drink, slightly more than a sip.
“Like this wine, the girls you are dating now are too young.
All of their off flavors haven’t had time to settle.
Their brash, even obnoxious, they insist upon themselves and are unrefined.
Sure, they may get you to where you want to go, but you’ll wake up regretting everything and feeling sick.”
The boy just nods.
As the wine ages, all those off flavors settle down, the tannin’s soften and rough edges become soft and welcoming.
The same wine, which would have given you a headache if enjoyed too early, makes the perfect partner for your dinner or just to be enjoyed on it’s own.”
“Thanks dad, I think….”
“But then, the wine continues to age,” he continues cutting off the boy: “and all of the fruit character that once defined it is lost.
The flavors become flabby and the alcohol turns to vinegar.
Soon, all of the inside crystallizes leaving nothing but a sour, bitter, acrid slurry that makes you want to vomit as soon as it touches your lips.”
The father then downs the remainder of his wine in one loud gulp.
The boys stares horrified at his father:
“When does that happen?”
“I dunno,” he says while pouring another glass.
“How old is your mother?”