I’m old enough to recall cutting school in the ’80s and catching a television ad endorsed by on-the-wane celebrity Sally Struthers, as she hawked correspondence courses in such fields of study as “computer programming,” “gun repair” and “high school” (which, upon reflection, reads like a prescription for “Columbine,” but let’s move on and spare Ms. Struthers an on-camera assault by Michael Moore).
Of course, as a perennial n’er-do-well and eventual dropout, the notion of taking “high school” via “distance learning” held particular irony for me since I lived mere blocks from the school (there’s a metaphysical phenomenon here – the closer one lives near a school, the more unlikely it is that one will go there). Moreover, why bother with Petaluma High School when I could simply ring Sally toll-free and “train at home for a better career?” Seeing as anything seems better than living the subplot to a John Hughes movie as a high school sophomore, I very nearly called Sally. I didn’t. Apparently, no one did, which is why she eventually had to take the gig fronting for starving kids. Now that I’m a relatively educated accredited member of the media, I receive dozens of press releases daily touting means by which you, darling readers, may improve yourselves (impossible – you’re perfect, I know). A release came today, in fact, touting a new online course available from the University of California Irvine Extension:
“A Sommelier’s Secret Guide to the Wine List: Wine and Food Galore,” taught by the extremely credentialed Marlene Rossman, who certainly did not receive her various masters degrees and sommelier accreditation from the Internet. “This course takes the anxiety out of ordering wine from a restaurant list or buying wine in a store, which can be very challenging given the huge number of wine choices, both domestic and imported,” explains course instructor and seasoned wine specialist Marlene Rossman.
Indeed, but this is Sonoma – where, if you don’t make wine, you’ve probably written about it (it’s like open-mic night at some rags, not to mention the local blogosphere – and power to us). If a Sonoman has any anxiety ordering wine it’s because he/she is experiencing withdrawal and preoccupied with the spiders crawling on his/her arms.
Now, I’m not criticizing the targeting of efforts of the PR firm (spam-shotgun aimed at lifestyle media – clearly it works), but I will suggest some additions to Rossman’s curricula that will appeal to at least a few of my fellow Sonomans.
Imagine Sally Struthers reading the following from a teleprompter:
Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:
- Uncork a bottle with your teeth.
- Pair wine with more wine.
- Pose as a critic to score samples.
- Remove red wine stains from friends’ clothes and carpets.
- Do the ABCs backwards.
Of course, some Sonomans I know would slur, “Tell me something I don’t know, Sally.” But, theoretically, due to short-term memory impairment from a lifetime of imbibing, it’s possible that such a Sonoman will end up taking the same course repeatedly with only a vague sense of déjà vino – the feeling that one drank some wine then forgot about it. I know I did.