Tears streamed down my cheeks as I witnessed the unceremonious end to a life dedicated to service and laughter…and wine. You’d think I was mourning the demise of a faithful friend. And, in a way, I was.
That friend was a purple van we named our “Grapemobile,” and back in 2004 it carried us around the country on a book tour for our first wine book. As the flatbbed truck pulled out of my driveway hauling the Grapemobile to I-don’t-know-exactly-where, I couldn’t help but weep for all the good times. And the memories.
Okay, call me melodramatic. But the death of our Grapemobile marked the end of an era that, in many respects, defined the Saucy Sisters.
As hard as it is to believe, we bought the 1992 Chevrolet Lumina van for one dollar from our good friend, Mary Rau-Foster. She wanted to give it to us outright. But the state of Tennessee wouldn’t allow that unless the Saucy Sisters were a non-profit organization. And the Saucy Sisters didn’t want to admit we were a non-profit organization.
Well, we had the van painted purple and attached the logos of our sponsors — Wente Vineyards, Gloria Ferrer Champagne, Wine Away — plus our own very saucy caricatures. Yes, we were a sight. We drove 13,000 miles and visited 30 cities doing book signings and wine tastings and making radio and TV appearances.
When we’d drive into a new town, people would stop and stare expectantly. They probably thought they’d see Cheech and Chong emerge in a billow of smoke. You could see their disappointment when two middle-aged women hopped out instead.
I wish we had chronicled every day on that tour. There were so many funny stories. Now I forget most of them. And that makes me sad.
Here’s one of the things I do remember. After 13,000 miles, my caricature was missing some critical parts: my forehead and left leg. We ended the tour at our parents’ house in New Jersey. Our dad got out his best adhesives in an attempt to fix me up. (He was, after all, a surgeon.) I’m sure he did a better job on his real patients, but he made a valiant effort to reconstruct my paper self.
I drove the Grapemobile back home to Tennessee right after that. And, as it turned out, that would be the last time I saw my father.
And maybe that’s the real reason I broke down in the driveway as the Grapemobile pulled out of sight.
By Saucy Sis1