#FoodFiction: “The Vineyard Fairytale”

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Questo racconto è il risultato della collaborazione tra SapereFood e Umbra Institute. Dopo aver visitato alcune importanti aziende della regione, gli studenti hanno scritto delle storie di fantasia sperimentando la tecnica promozionale chiamata “product placement”, ovvero l’inserimento di un marchio all’interno della narrazione.

by Lindsay Egbers

Inspired by the location of Tenuta Lunelli, Carapace

Once upon a time in a beautiful land there was a man. For the time being, let’s call him Matthew. Matthew was uncertain about a lot of things in his life, but Mary was one of the few exceptions. He’d never been surer of anything in his life: finally. Mary and Matthew met at a church function one sunny Sunday. They were 14 years old and had been best friends ever since. A mere 9 years later and its as if nothing has ever changed. They successfully made it through the awkward stages of high school, but then at last their friendship was really tested when they were separated by the long distance of college. However, their friendship remained as strong, if not stronger than when they were at Sunny Hills High. Now, finally, the dynamic duo was no longer apart, living less than 15 minutes away on the outskirts of California. Matthew was at long last ready.

At age 23, Matthew had an epiphany that in his heart of hearts, he’s known for almost a decade. It was the morning of May 8th and Matthew was prepared to tell the girl he felt like he’s loved forever the truth. The truth behind all the smiles, laughs, and years of memories was about to be revealed. Matthew’s true feelings of how high he’s placed her in his mind for years and how blinded he’s been. “Mary Margret, I love you” Matthew was practicing in the mirror while combing his hair. Imagining Mary’s smiling face and her leaping into his arms in reciprocation, he grinned and went into his closet. He picked out his light blue button up that happened to be Mary’s favorite because “it matched his eyes” she had once told him. He finished dressing and right before leaving, slipped on his leather dual faced watch Mary had given him for his 18th birthday right before they left for college. The watch with dual faces was symbolic to him. The separate faces indicated they would be in different time zones, but they could have each other’s time on the same watch, this way they were still together.

It was the perfect evening because Mary had just asked if he would meet her for dinner to tell him some big news she had. “You’re not the only one with big news,” he thought with a nervous chuckle. Mary had just returned from her family’s annual trip to Italy to visit the vineyard. They went to visit there every year for as long as Matthew could remember. He had accompanied the Margret family a few times, per Mary’s request, but alas, he was a real adult now and had to work. Mary’s grandparents or Nanna and Nonno as they were called, owned and lived on a vineyard for their whole lives. The vineyard had a very special place in Mary’s heart. Matthew had always loved going to the vineyard. He always thought it was because of the serenity and peace it made him feel, but he realized it’s because Mary loves it so much. Mary’s parents decided to go in a different direction and not take over the family wine business. They were dentists. However, Mary had no interest in teeth, quite frankly the whole other people’s saliva thing grossed her out anyways. No, she had every intention of moving to the vineyard one day and taking over for her Nanna and Nonno. Naturally, her grandparents were thrilled that the Margret legacy will live on and there is someone willing to follow in their Italian footsteps.

Matthew was feeling great. “Look good, feel good, play good I always say!” said Mike, Matthew’s self-proclaimed “love doctor” roommate called after him as he approached the door. “Good luck,” he wished Matthew as he left.

After what felt like the longest drive to their favorite restaurant they had spent so many Friday nights, birthdays, and special occasions, he arrived.

“How appropriate that this will be the place I tell her,” he thought on his walk in. He approached the hostess stand, and recognizing his face, the young girl said “Matthew?” He smiled and followed her beckon. There she was, as beautiful as ever. Her striking dark red hair, freckles across the bridge of her nose, and blue eyes that he could look into forever. “Matthew!” Mary called and leaped into his arms. “She smelled the same too,” Matthew thought.

“Mary, how long it’s been. How are you? Tell me all about the trip” he replied. She gave him that heart-dropping smile and everything was right in the world. “Matthew it was absolutely incredible. The best vineyard trip of 23 years!” she exclaimed, “but I want to tell you my big news first!” Matthew wanted to reply with his big news too, but he figured he’d have all night to build up the courage and tell her.

“Well go on then. Tell me everything! But I have something to tell you later on,” Matthew quickly spluttered out. Mary took a deep breath and grabbed hold of Matthews tightly clasped hands from across the table. He lurched at her touch, but was completely focused on the news she was about to relay. As she was getting ready to speak however, they were rudely interrupted by a sophisticated, tall, dark haired man. He glanced at Matthew and immediately sat down, putting his arm around Mary. Perplexed at his man’s abrupt appearance and discourtesy, he stared at him wondering who he was and where on Earth he came from. He looked like he just came off the runway in Paris making Matthew subconsciously mat his hair down further.

“Who are you?” ask Matthew frankly.

“I could ask you the same question,” said Mr. Suave. “But lucky for you, you’re all Mary seems to talk about so I know who you are Matthew. I’m Angelo and it’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” he said as he stuck out his hand.

 Matthew simply stared at his hand and quickly looked to Mary waiting for her to break out in laughter and call off this ridiculous joke.

“Well, this was the news I was going to tell you. This is Angelo,” Mary said batting her long lashes, gesturing to the handsome man. “We met at the Vineyard. One of the first days I arrived at Nanna and Nonno’s I was riding Roxy through the endless hills, past the stream, and she had gotten spooked by a rabbit and took off racing. I would’ve been thrown off if Angelo hadn’t been there to chase her down and grab me onto his horse.” She turned and admired her hero while he sat pompously with his arm around her.

“After I saved Marie…” He pronounced Mary with some type of very wrong ‘e’ sounding syllable that made Matthew uneasy. “We’ve been inseparable ever since.” Angelo finished looking down into Mary’s grinning face.

“Wow,” said Matthew sarcastically, “thank goodness you were there to save the day,” he finished. “So anyways Mary, are you going to tell me this urgent news? Excuse us would you?” Matthew turned and addressed Angelo.

“Matthew, he is the news,” Mary matter of frankly suggested. “What’s so urgent about your stable boy,” Matthew shrugged.

“Matthew, he’s not a stable boy. He is the son of my grandparent’s best client.  And it’s urgent because, well, right before I was about to leave, Angelo asked me to marry him. We were at the top of the hill, under the turtle shell, and I said… Yes. We marry in 4 months at my Nanna and Nonno’s vineyard. We thought that would be appropriate,” Mary said, smiling and letting go of Matthew’s hands and holding up her left hand. There it was, plain as day. A diamond must have been 14 carats, rested on a thick golden band around her finger. He couldn’t breathe. The Earth surely had stopped moving in that moment. His brain and heart had plummeted into his stomach. Surely, he had not seen properly. He was going to vomit, no faint.

“Say something please Matthew,” Mary said now looking concerned. Gathering himself, Matthew forced a smile and replied,  “If you’re happy, I’m happy Mary. Would you two excuse me, I seem to have left my wallet at home. You two enjoy dinner, after all it’s your favorite restaurant.” Without another word, Matthew shook Angelo’s hand, mumbled something that sounded like a mixture between congratulations and it’s a pleasure, got up, and left; turning his back on his best friend and the heroic horseman.

* * *

“Dude this is just pathetic. And you call me the pig,” said Mike leaning over and picking up a banana peel and an empty Chinese to-go box off the couch cushion. It had been a month since Matthew’s world was turned upside down and he had barely moved from the couch, except for work where he now a days was often late and lackadaisical. Matthew looked up at him with raccoon eyes from lack of sleep, the dark circles aging him tremendously, and said, “I know I’m pathetic. That’s why she’s marrying him.” Mike suddenly in a rage outbursts, “Listen bro, I know you’re sad, but sitting here is not going to make your life any better. You need to either give up and move on or get up and fight. I’m sick of all this. It’s been a month, she’s not married yet, and you have 3 more months to prove to her why you’re her man.” Matthew stared at him in shock. Not once had Mike said anything so provoking or heart-felt.

“Oh yeah,” said Matthew in rebuttal, “and just how do you suppose I do that? Kill him?” Mike pondered this and said, “You need her to realize she can’t possibly live without you. Didn’t she ask you to be her Maid of Honor or Man of Honor I guess?”

“Yeah she did, but I haven’t spoken to her in a whole month” said Matthew disheartening. “Okay, this is the plan. Make up with her and be the best Man of Honor she’s ever seen. You’ll need to spend all your time with her and surely she’ll realize how much she depends on you,” said Mike excitedly.

* * *

The plan had immediately gone into action. Mary had accepted Matthew back with open arms and they spent every waking hour together talking guest list, invitations, catering, bridal shower, flowers, and even wedding vows. The wedding was now only a few days away, which meant it was time to go back to the vineyard. When they arrived it was looking more beautiful than ever. It was just as serene and picturesque as Matthew had last left it. They were greeted by Nanna and Nonno and were shuffled to their rooms in their home under the turtle shell.

The day before the wedding, they began setting up and running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Finally, dusk was approaching. They had a tradition, ever since Matthew had started coming to the vineyard. They would lay on the very top of the hill adjacent to the turtle shell, overlooking the rows and rows of grapes into the brilliant hills, watching the sunset, and here they could say anything, be anything, and it would stay there forever.

“Remember when we were kids and we use to use the turtle shell as base for manhunt and kick the can (or wine bottle in their case)” Mary said nostalgically. Matthew smiled at the thought. “And the time Sue Ellen tried to make us kiss under it,” Matthew said. “What are older siblings for if not to embarrass us at every opportunity and make us do things they’re too scared to do,” replied Mary lightheartedly.

“I need help Matthew. I don’t know what to say in my vows. Every time I think of something it sounds dumb when I say it out loud” Mary admitted.

“Oh come on. You’ve always been great with words. Tell him how you really feel.” Matthew sat up, took Mary’s hands and said, “Let’s practice.  Look him in the eyes and say that I couldn’t picture life without you. That your love is like… is like the wind. It cannot be seen, but I feel it and I know it’s always there. When I’m with you nothing else seems to matter and in that moment, together we’re infinite.” Matthew looked away then back and said, “I love you.” A sudden gust of wind blew at the height of hills and the next moment they were embracing. Kissing with a passion that had been bottled up for 9 long years. A chill coursed through their bodies that had little to do with the wind.

“Matthew!” Mary exclaimed. “I… I…I’m getting married tomorrow!?”

“You don’t have to marry him. Mary I’ve wanted to tell you this for quite sometime,” began Matthew.

“I can’t do this,” and Mary disappeared into the black of night.

The next day was the big day. Everyone had arrived and Matthew was feeling sick. “I shouldn’t go. I kissed the bride! I can’t go. But I’m the Man of Honor. She’s counting on me. I kissed her!” Matthew’s brain was experiencing conflict like it never had, filled with cognitive dissonance. He decided it would be indecent for him to show up and stand next to her. He would simply tell her that he got fatally sick, but the show must go on. He decided to go for a ride on Roxy while the ceremony took place. He was galloping through the breathtaking vineyard that he had done many times before, but with Mary by his side. He looked down at his dual watch, “5 minutes till the woman of my dreams will be Mrs. Mary Suave,” he thought indignantly. Still staring at his watch, he remembered all the memories and their friendship together. In that moment, he knew he would not be able to live with himself if he did not try all that he could. He took off on Roxy, flying through the rows of the vineyard praying to the heavens above he wouldn’t be too late.

“I do,” said Angelo. Mary paused, staring into his eyes and not seeing the man that she felt she could not live without. “I…I…” Mary stuttered. She could not form words; her mouth was dry and was unable to continue. Suddenly, at the height of the aisle, standing in a dusty suit, sweat dripping from his face, and out of breath was the man who her thoughts were on. “Matthew!” she cried. As Matthew came striding down the aisle he pronounced, “Mary. I love you. I’ve always loved you. I think I’ve always known it. I’m sorry I waited until now, but it’s not too late.”

Tears were flowing from her cheeks as she looked into Angelo’s eyes, reached for his face, and said, “I’m so sorry. But I can’t marry you. And you don’t want to marry me. You deserve someone who loves you as much as you love me.  You deserve all the happiness Angelo, I hope you find it, but you won’t find it with me.” Simultaneously an overwhelming gust of wind upheaved the entire wedding party. As everyone in a panic rushed towards the reception room in the turtle’s shell, Matthew found Mary’s hands as she shouted into the void, “Love is like the wind.” And, dear readers, as you can imagine, they lived happily ever after.

Umbra Institute

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