"This so high school," my co-conspirator mumbled as we left our high school class reunion on a secret mission. The goal was not very high school at all - we were off to find a palatable wine choice. As if we ever cared about that back then. But the goal required that we sneak it in, and turns out we were very out of practice with that part.
I knew there might be a problem with wine selections, but I did my due diligence and checked the online menu of the venue. There was a chardonnay that would work, but just in case...I called midweek and asked if there were other wine choices. No. I asked if I could bring my own and what would the corkage fee be. I had to explain what that was - I bring a bottle of wine and you charge me a fee to open and serve it - and they were pretty sure it wasn't legal (it is). Alrighty then.
The event space has its own bar, and when I arrive I ask about the chardonnay. They don’t have it. But I can go downstairs to the restaurant bar and get a glass there and come back up - which entails going down and then out of the building and around in the front door, because there’s no interior access.
The bartender there pours half a glass of the chardonnay and that’s the end of the bottle - and it was the last bottle as well. I ask him about other wine choices, and he rattles off the same choices as the upstairs bar.
I traipse back upstairs with my half a glass of chardonnay, thinking I have never had to work this hard for a decent glass of wine in my life, and run into a classmate who has the same dilemma - she ordered a glass of red wine and it was undrinkable.
I said “We should scoot over to the grocery store and get our own bottle.” She looks at me and says “Maybe we should...” And next thing you know, we are driving 1/2 mile to the store and each buying a bottle of cabernet and a corkscrew, all which she stashed in her big ass purse to smuggle into the event.
We go into the ladies room, open her wine and break the corkscrew opening mine - but did we recognize that the universe was telling us to drink something else? Hell no. We find another corkscrew, get the second bottle open, congratulate ourselves and decide the bathroom cabinet is a decent hiding place and we hide the bottles behind a bunch of trash bags and toilet paper.
Despite some discretion - making sure bathroom was empty when getting refills - we got busted by the venue manager. She complained to one of the event planners - a good friend - who knew exactly who the guilty party was; he was just surprised to find out there were two of us. To make matters worse, apparently they actually sell the cabernet that I was drinking. I was trying not to ruffle any more feathers than we already had, but I felt compelled to point out that I had called about this midweek, and spoke with two bartenders that evening, and no one had mentioned this, ever.
In a way, this was also very high school as I was deploying a version of the classic "I wouldn't have been an idiot if you hadn't been an idiot first" argument.
We finally get to the negotiation portion of the conversation and the manager seems to be telling us she wants a $30 corkage fee - yes, she knows what that is - for EACH GLASS WE POUR.
While we are again apologizing for being jerks, we are also gently explaining that this is not how it usually works. Some part of my brain is weighing jail time vs. exorbitant corkage fee and deciding that arguing about the fee is more important.
I can't even blame the alcohol. I've had half a glass of chardonnay and one glass of cabernet; I think my co-conspirator has had two glasses. The manager counters with $25 for each bottle. My classmate and I say fine, but we want the bottle with the most wine in it. I mean, that makes sense, right? Anyone would respond that way. Right?
The manager, bless her heart, does not march off and dump it all down the sink at this point but offers a $15 fee for each bottle. We hand over the cash.
I walk away with my glass of suddenly premium wine, and another friend helpfully yells across the room “Hey, are you going to jail?”