John JuergensMy epitaph

Epitaphs on gravestones seem to be a lost art. If you go to some of the older cemeteries you can find some really great remembrances. I have no idea why epitaphs are no longer popular; maybe it is just no longer seemly, or the expense of having them engraved in stone is too costly. I know what I would like to have placed on my headstone, but first a brief story so it will make sense.

Some years ago I attended a snooty wine dinner as a member of an international wine tasting organization. This was an annual affair hosted at the home of a member, and the rest of the members were encouraged to bring some of their better wines to contribute to the party. In fact, I suspect some people used this as an opportunity to clear out old or undesirable wines from their cellars.

During the cocktail portion of the evening a bar was set up with a variety of member wines. I selected a curious California Zinfandel; curious because it was about 18 years old. Although Zinfandel wines start out as massive, muscular wines they tend to fade within five to six years. So I was curious how this one had held up.

As the waiter poured me a glass I noticed a distinct brown color to the wine, not a good sign. When I inspected it more closely it was the color of pine straw and smelled like burnt leaves. I did venture a tiny sip to confirm that the wine was DOA, and it tasted like tea made of pine straw and burnt leaves. I felt it my duty to inform the waiter and have him remove it from the bar so that others would not have to endure its demise.

When I came back later to try a different wine the cadaverous Zinfandel was back on the bar. I asked the waiter about it and he told me that the owner of the wine insisted that he put it back out because the wine simply had not yet opened up, or in his words, "It hasn't come around yet." I told a few other people about the wine and that it should be avoided.

Later in the evening the owner of the wine, now half way into his cups, approached me and challenged me on why I was bad-mouthing his fine wine. I told him it was completely shot, but he insisted that it just needed a bit more time to "come around."

As the evening was ending and guests were leaving I saw the same individual sitting in a chair obviously well into his cups cradling his beloved dead Zinfandel in one arm, a glass in the other, still beseeching anyone who walked by to give it one more try.

When he saw me about to leave he struggled out of the chair and started berating me about dissing his wine. I told him to give it up, the wine was gone, and added, "Someone should put us out of its misery." This really annoyed him and I had the feeling he might get violent, or at least cause a scene, so I scurried on out the door.

So now I come to my epitaph. Here's what I would like on my tombstone: "He was a pretty good guy, but he never quite came around."


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