I always wanted to work in Toronto, and for a short period of time, I did. During university, I spent 3 months interning at Elite Model Management. So glam eh? …ahhhhhh not so much. The allure of the city quickly wore off and I was left hating the commute, rush hour traffic, not knowing my way around the city and lonely lunches at the nearest Tim Hortons where I’d sit and observe a melting pot of culture and wonder why I had been so eager to “make it” in the big city. Even though my days as an intern was long gone and my love affair with Toronto quickly fizzled, there has always been something about the city which I’m drawn to, and still the same things I could do without. On this particular day in Toronto, I had pretty much had it. Frustrating traffic, one-way streets, delivering wine, finding parking and where the heck are loading docks in the city??? I could tell you where, but I’ll save that for another time. So as the sun started to set, I finally felt tension subside, but little did I know, my day was far from over.
I received a phone call asking if I could taste some Port with Dr. Michael Vaughan. Michael Vaughan?? Me? Now? At his home? What? Yes, those were my thoughts exactly. So, I put yet another destination in my GPS, and after almost running out of gas, and temporarily losing my cell phone, there I was parked outside the home of one of Canada’s most renowned wine writers. I reluctantly walked to the front door and when no one answered, breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe he wasn’t home, maybe I was off the hook, but this was not the case. A young man answered the door and led me inside a marvelous home overflowing with paintings, artifacts, and countless empty wine bottles. As I sat on the couch, soon walked in the man of the hour, Dr. Michael Vaughan. My first impression was that this man is vibrating at a higher frequency than the rest of us, he had an energy that filled every corner of the room.
I was left to enjoy honey, gingered tea with his wife (a graphic designer) as he quickly stepped out to run an errand. We spoke about life, career, direction, and I started to realize this was going to be a much larger experience than I had expected. She was someone who carries a conversation with ease, and with as much interest in what you’re saying as she has in her own story.
Michael soon returned with a bag of yellow peppers (a side dish for dinner), and within seconds I was offered an invitation to stay. My default reply is usually “No thank you” but something spoke up inside me. It’s not every day you get to have dinner with a wine writer in his home, and if my time with his wife was any indication of the conversation to follow, how could I refuse? As they prepared dinner I could see this pair had more charm and charisma in the pinkies than most dream of having. They had an electric chemistry. The two of them would lovingly joke with each other, as they maneuvered around the kitchen, switching sides, slicing and dicing and I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a movie. That, or someone needs to
pitch the FOOD Network with what could be their next hit show. I asked if they entertain often and they both quickly replied: “No!…we entertain each other enough”. This was apparent. I offered to help with dinner, but they insisted I sit and enjoy a glass of Italian Chardonnay. As smells of cardamom, ginger, and garlic filled the air I thought to myself ” I’m glad I said yes”.
I finally got to pitch in and set the dining room table. I walked into a dark room with art upon the walls, heavy, and cluttered but in a good kind of way. I placed large white plates on an oversized needlepoint tablecloth. It clearly showed signs of wear and tear, holes, and broken threads. As I placed each setting down, I couldn’t help but think of the wine and conversations that must have floated across that table top.
My friend Nikki once commented on how much she loved talking to people that close their eyes while they spoke; almost as if sorting through their own personal filing cabinet of knowledge and experience, and trying to find perfect words to piece together. Michael was one of those ‘close your eyes while you talk’ kinda people. Sorting through his own files of wine and life insight. It was a dinner, which satisfied hunger not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. There were nuggets of wisdom thrown around which I tried to gather, like picking up seashells along a beach. Before I knew it, it was almost 10 pm, and I knew I had best be on my way. I helped clean up, while Michael tasted the port (the sole reason I came). Good news was, he loved it, great news was, I left smiling from the inside out. Lesson learned: never say no to an invitation to dinner.