During a recent visit to a Chateau in Margaux, France, a young women gave me an overview of the winemaking process during a tour. She told a beautiful story of how the grapes of the younger, less mature vines are often used for the cheaper 2nd label wines (ewwww, gross. . . . wine for peasants). Often, those crappy grapes had to even be mixed with the grapes of the older, fabulous vines to improve the taste – and be good enough to bottle and sell. The quality of the wine produced increases as the vines age and continuously gets better and better. This made absolute perfect sense to me. Quality comes with age. She had my full attention.


Without warning, the story took a sudden, jolting turn that turned my cheery face into a twisted mess of disappointment. Apparently, when the vines reach the mere age of 40, they hit what is fondly referred to as the menopause of the grape-vine. At this stage, they are called Grandmothers and are considered to be well past their prime. Whaaaaaat the furck? And what happens next you might wonder? Well, my friends, that is the time when the matured, menopausal, grandmother vines are violently ripped from the ground, the roots chopped off and the remains disposed of or used as compost for the younger, up-and-coming vines. After turning 40 – those amazing plants – having churned out the finest of wines in their greatest years – are killed off to make room for the younger girls. Sniff. Sniff. Thankfully, this is not the case for humans. Ahem. Sorry, something in my throat.


Alas, this is the circle of life. RIP Grandma Vines.

However, those fine wines that are produced by those lovely ladies. . .  well, they live on and continue to increase in quality year after year after year. Those wines become intricate and complex. Wine connoisseurs often use the following words to describe these fine wines: balanced, full-bodied, full of depth, expressive, powerful, spicy, soft, rich or supple. That’s how you describe the product of a sassy, classy mother vine. They might cost more. They are not available for purchase at Wal-Mart or the Quickie Mart. But goddamnit, you’re going to get something pretty special. Choosing to purchase, drink and/or keep fine wines isn’t for everyone, but for people who try it out, they often find it hard to go back to the cheaper, lower quality options. Just say no to Mad Dog 20/20.


“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” – Ernest Hemingway

Well said, Hemingway, well said. And it’s delicious.

Studies show that wine is often judged by the packaging.  In 2001, a panel of wine experts gave one of the lowest possible scores to an average-priced Bordeaux that was served in a cheap bottle. When it was served in an expensive bottle, it received one of the highest possible scores. Even though the quality on the inside was still top-notch, it was perceived to be a lesser wine. Hmmmm. Again, nothing at all like human behavior. Cough. Cough.


Women are like wine in many ways. Sure, there are many varieties. Some domestic and some exotic. Some young and some old. Some cheap and some expensive. The really good ones are taken or quite hard to find. Too many and you’re probably going to have a headache. Everything in moderation, right my dears?  Once you’ve uncorked a good one, you better enjoy it while you can.

Woman often say that they’re aging like a fine wine, and in many cases, this is absolutely true. Through age and experience, you learn and you grow and you become more complex – but in really awesome ways. You’ll always be slightly delicate, needing a good environment and some proper care so that you don’t go all vinegary. But, you’ll be worth the time, the investment and the perfectly cool surroundings so that you can be your absolute best. Most of all, you’ll need someone to appreciate how fine you really are. Nothing worse than a unknowing imbecile dumping out something so precious and unique!

So for the women? You’re either already splendid or on your way there – with or without the cheese. Men? Read the fine print on the label and choose wisely. If you get yourself a 1971 Petrus Pomerol, well you should start drinking it up.

Leave it to Beaver

There are many wonderful things about being a woman. Making sure your lady parts stay healthy over the course of your lifetime is not one of them.

Women have to go through all kinds of medieval torture to keep their special parts in top condition. In preparing for this post, I’ve actually just made the very harsh mistake of googling ‘pap smear’ and clicking on Images. Don’t do it. Not even if you’re curious. Seriously – save yourself.


Mine looks exactly like that, minus a hymen.

Le Belgian Inquisition

When I first moved to Belgium I asked my doctor for a referral to an English-speaking gynecologist. I had put off my annual exam for about 4 years and had finally decided it was time to have a check up – change the oil and all that. He promptly gave me the name of Dr. Van Snatch (obviously not his real name, but this will had some flavor to the story). So I made an appointment with Dr. Van Snatch and soon found myself sitting patiently in his waiting room with a bunch of elderly women who probably all had varying cases of vaginal dryness. Finally the door opened and my name was called. “Madame Schmidt?  Madame Schmidt?” It was close enough to my name and I wanted to get this over with so I jumped up and said, “C’est moi!”

It’s important to know that many doctors in Belgium work out of offices attached to their private homes and they do everything from dealing with your insurance, maintaining your medical file, conducting the exam and taking your payment all by themselves.  So unless you need to go to a hospital, you kind of feel like you’re just visiting a neighbor for a nice chat – but with your clothes off.  Oh and the neighbor is inappropriately touching and/or probing you. So similar, but different.

I was asked to remove all articles of clothing (socks were optional) and climb up onto the table.  In the US, they give you a hospital gown or some paper clothes to wear so you don’t feel as cold and vulnerable. But, in Belgium you get no such thing. So I get up on the table and put my feet in the stirrups and as always, I’m not far enough down on the table. Gynecologists must spend hours every day asking women to ‘Slide down a bit lower on the table.  A little more. A little more. There you go.’ No one wants to slide down lower on the table. No one.


From this view, all I can see are my knees and the face of Dr. Van Snatch as he starts rooting around in there like he’s lost his keys. He’s an older gentleman and in his career he has probably seen thousands of coochies up close and personal. He starts making some small talk and asking me about my work and my employer. “Oh,” he says, “I know your CEO and we golf together on Sundays!”  Wow, that’s awesome. Thanks for sharing. I imagine Dr. Van Snatch talking about my vagina to the CEO of my company as he scores a bogey on the second hole. (Yeah, I might have written that intentionally – read into it as you will). Anyway, small talk during this kind of exam is just uncomfortable. I wish doctors would just stick to the task at hand and keep conversation to a minimum.

Even though the whole process takes less than 5 minutes, it seems like an eternity. It must have seemed like an eternity to Dr. Van Snatch as well because as he was wrapping things up, I looked up at him to see his face contorted into a Yawn of all Yawns. For fuck sake. Am I boring you Doc? Have you seen so many vaginas that mine is putting you to sleep? I suppose you have to come in with broccoli coming out of your twat if you want to get him interested enough to stay awake.


Apparently, my mound of love pudding is your average, run of the mill variety. Nothing special to report. Dr. Van Snatch told me to get dressed and be on my way. And so I left – but with very mixed feelings.


After turning 37, I was told that I should be getting regular mammograms to be sure the twins stay healthy. This seemed like a smart thing to do and so I booked my first mammogram. This time I was at a hospital and was waiting patiently to be called in for my exam. Once again, “Madame Schmidt?”

The examination room was quite spacious and the machine itself was larger than I expected. I was asked to remove my top and my bra and then the lovely ‘breast technician’ aided me in placing my breast into the machine. Let me just say that this goes against all natural instinct when you look down at your breast and then up at this steel squeezing machine and you still take a step forward. They must have to say this several times a day, but she kept asking me to get closer to the machine whilst my breast was already inside of it. Like. . . how? How is there anyway to get closer than this? If I were to get any closer, they might as well examine my liver too.

Having your breast squeezed inside a cold, hard, metal torture device will enlighten you to the new shapes and forms your breasts can take. You’ll see things you never thought possible. It’s like putting your boob inside a waffle iron – but on purpose. First they squeeze it horizontally and then vertically and then pull it out flat like a pancake. What do women with small breasts do? Their boobies must flatten out like little banana peels. Mine looked like a watermelon about to explode into a thousand pieces.


It’s like a George Foreman grill for boobs.

After you get yourself all smashed up by the Boobinator you get to move to Phase 2. This next phase involves you getting ice-cold gel smeared around on your chest and then having some scanning device rubbed all over the surface of your breasts. Sorry people, but anything that cold near the nipples and you’re asking to get your eye poked out. While the woman technician was doing this part of the exam, a nurse comes in the room and they start chatting to each other about the weekend while I’m lying on the table with my nipples reaching new heights I’d never thought possible. The nurse looked over at me and smiled. All I wanted to do was to shout, “I’m not attracted to any of you! I’m just really cold!” I think for the first time I felt what it must be like for a teenage boy getting uncontrollable boners in inappropriate places. Just awkward.

I survived. I was sent away with a note saying my girls were good and to come back again next year. I wonder if I’ll get a Christmas card.