In May of 2005 I was a young college junior eagerly anticipating my 22nd birthday. I decided to throw a large party in my honor. I suppose I didn’t realize at that time that it’s tacky to throw your own birthday party. But what did I care? I was young and jubilant and looking for a reason to drink with friends. I threw together an invite list on the university email system and hit the send button. The party was planned for a warm Friday evening, in the sticky, shabby basement of my fraternity house. I borrowed a friend’s car and drove to the closest campus liquor store in search of supplies.
“How much alcohol should I buy? How should I serve everyone? Will anyone actually show up to my party?!” The questions bounced around my head as I bounded into Toco Hills Package Store in Atlanta. Having only $100 to work with, I settled on five cases of Milwaukee’s Best Light and a handle of the cheapest vodka money could buy. As I approached the register, I saw a white object gleaming in the corner of my eye. I put down the cases of beer and walked over to a aisle display, stacked with boxes of wine. I thought to myself, “I’ve never had this wine before, I better be safe and pick some up just in case. Who knows? Someone might want to drink only wine.” I grabbed a box of Franzia Blush and headed to the checkout.
Hours later, the party was in full swing. 40-50 friends, well wishers, and others showed up, only some aware that this was my birthday party. Red plastic cups were flipped, ping pong balls arced through the air, and The Funky Meters blasted from a set of speakers. My heart began racing when I realized I drastically underestimated the turnout and about 90 minutes into the party, the beer had vanished and the vodka had vaporized. That’s when I remembered the box of Franzia Blush, sitting untouched in corner of my room. Sweet salvation!
I sprinted upstairs, grabbed the box, and bounced downstairs to the party. I thrust the box of Franzia in the air and screamed “Boxed Wine!” as loud as I could. I opened the valve on the box and started pouring. The wine carried a sharp tang with virtually no aftertaste. It was a sickly light pink color and was filled with sugar. It didn’t matter. The party raged on, saved by that box of cheap wine. Since then my taste in wine has developed and matured. However, Franzia Blush will forever occupy a fond place not in my tongue, but in my heart.
Justin Petrillo drinks wine, mostly Malbec. Keep it simple, stupid.