Pithy wine labels always catch my eye. I appreciate the whimsy of names like “Middle Sister,” “Mommy’s Time Out,” “7 Deadly Zins” and “Goats do Roam.”
Recently, I met the weirdest one yet: I was curious to discover the bottle my husband had paired with dinner. It was the exclamation point to the meal he was creating, and I wanted a preview. I peered across the kitchen, past the simmering pots on the stove, and strained my eyes for a sneak peek. The regal-looking label read, “Authentic Dork.”
I must have said it out loud — with a few exclamation points and question marks thrown in — because my kids burst into laughter. My husband, always unfazed by my words, cracked his “whatever, weird” smile. Intrigued, I leaned in for a second look. With closer proximity, the words morphed into something completely different. This time they spelled “Apothic Dark,” simultaneously restoring faith in my husband’s wine selection abilities, and sense of humor.
This bizarre misnomer has since become our favorite family joke. Saying it out loud, at unexpected moments, is always good for a few giggles. Try envisioning what an “Authentic Dork” is, and you’ll see what I mean. Clearly I’ve contemplated this past the point of sensibility. (This is unusually fun.) But over the past few weeks, it’s pointed me back to something I’ve long forgotten:
Life, and our interpretation of it, often emerges with limited context. It comes in small doses and scribbled pictures, rather than as a finished masterpiece. Like a novel, we crack it open at random intervals, fully expecting to comprehend the whole story. (I wouldn’t know, because I never procrastinated in college, except for all the studying parts . . .) We assume we are seeing things (often people) in totality, unobstructed. So we “read” our labels with brazen authority, never acknowledging the steam clouding our view: bias, assumptions, wishful thinking, anger, expectations, even our own insecurities.
We end up with “Authentic Dork” — obscured truth — in moments where infinitely more than just a bottle’s reputation is on the line.
When our conclusive default is to “jump to,” may we endeavor instead to “lean in.”
We just may be surprised.