As a man of honor, as well as the kind of ‘showman’ wine writer who is willing to go to any length required to keep you, the reader, on the edge of your seats—up to (and including) transgressive acts, coprophagia, self-mutilation and physically attacking you in public—I will hereupon reveal one of my darkest, most shameful secrets.
No, it is not my history of drug abuse, my mile-long police record, my multiple divorces (one from my first cousin) or my several outstanding felony warrants for selling ketamine to Girl Scouts. It’s much worse than that, mah neezy: I have a degree in psychology.
As such, when called upon to review a trio of outstanding releases from the obsessive-compulsive Paso Roblan winemaker Stillman Brown, I recalled an infantile exercise I was once required to do by some namby-pamby prof who drove a lime-green Fiero.*
* Sidenote: Remember the time before they invented lime-green Fieros when you actually had to get to know people to find out they were douchebags?
Anyway, the assignment was to write a paper entitled The Charlie Brown Theory of Personality, which the professor totally ripped-off from The Five Factor Model pioneered by such mid-engine, pseudo-sports-car-driving weenies as D. W. Fiske and Raymond Cattell. In it we were tasked to psychoanalyze various characters from the inexplicably popular comic strip Peanuts and see who fit into which of the five ludicrously condensed ‘personality variables’: Neuroticism, extraversion, disagreeableness, openness to experience and conscientiousness.
Which played out, in case you are interested (I’m not and I wasn’t), in order, as Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and Schroeder.
So, being as lazy as I am hard to convict in a court of law, I thought I might save myself the trouble of reviewing the freebie wines and instead, revive that tired old format to see which of those ‘gauges of emotional stability’ might best be employed to describe Charlie Brown’s brother Stillman.
The results? Well, my droogies, suffice to say that they surprised even an old, beaten-down, world-weary, Kelly-Green-Ford-drivin’ cynic like yours truly…
The Stillman Brown Theory of Personality
Neuroticism: He is a model neurotic. He is prone to spells of contemplative depression and paralyzing fits of over-analysis when it comes to the contents of his wine barrels. Constantly worrying about covering the note on his million dollar ocean-front pad, he nonetheless refuses to cut corners on his winemaking, such as using a hose instead of jugs of Absopure when he waters it down. He has a perpetual crush on the little bob-headed Cajun girl, taking small joys in her foibles (like dressing him in lime green and dying his homeschool-hair platinum) that may make her more attainable. He is noted for his inability to fly a dirigible.
Which character am I? Stillman Brown.
Extraversion: He is a typical extravert and, having slept through Color Theory class, he may be seen wearing tartan pants with a lime-green smoking jacket. Flamboyant, daring and outgoing to a fault, he tries to join in every activity and steer every conversation toward political science in order to justify his own college degree, which is even less justifiable than mine. He undertakes gallant, but fictitious missions in an Ultralite wherein he is able to extinguish the Hindenburg fire just as it starts, thus saving the humanity, the humanity.
He is Joe Cool, the life of the party, or at least, he lives in the house where we party because the garage is full of Chateau d’Abalone.
Which character am I? Stillman Brown.
Disagreeableness: Exemplifying the word ‘crabby’, he revels in his disagreeableness by engaging in pointless warfare with strangers on social media. Typical portrayals feature him bossing around bartenders, dominating wine competitions, mocking ThinkProgress Democrats and generally being a pain in the badonkadonk. His attempts at psychiatry generally involve misguided advice delivered loudly and angrily while jawboning a cigar that looks like something you’d see between legs in an NBA locker room. One recurring interaction is when he offers his recovering alcoholic interviewer a pretend club soda which is, in fact, laced with Everclear. Writer goes on three week bender, loses his job and family, and he preens.
What character am I? Stillman Brown.
Openness to experiences: He is clearly the brightest person west of the Mississippi River. Witty and knowledgeable, he is prone to passionate, if stifling dull socio-political monologues and is totally immune to having the living shit chuckled out of him afterward. He has invented his own God-like creation, The Great Zeppelin, and faithfully malingers at the mooring mast in Lakehurst, New Jersey every May 6 waiting for it to appear, which it never does. He has his own idiosyncrasy, an ever-present ear tattoo, but he does not seem particularly sensitive about it; it’s just ‘who he is’.
Too old to pursue physically challenging things, he must instead use his intellect to mull over new and interesting adventures.
What character am I? Stillman Brown
Conscientiousness: He is borderline lovable, but most casual drunks know him for one thing: His ability to turn grape juice into wine. Other than the incomparable Alexis, certain girls suffering from Usher Syndrome have been known to have crushes on him, but he will have none of it. Disciplined and focused in his passion for classical enology, one can imagine him setting his alarm clock for two AM on weekends to check the progress of a stuck fermentation one more time. Checking, yes; actually fixing the problem, not so much. He is generous to a fault, and would offer to turn off the automatic sprinkler when he forces you to sleep in his yard; he would give you the shirt off his back, which, being a hideous lime-green-like color not found in nature, you wouldn’t accept were you unclothed in the Valley of the Shadow of Death in January.
What character am I? Stillman Brown.
Of course, children—it goes without saying that you should not try this dangerous level of psychoanalysis at home. Leave it to those of us who have been certified in Contemporary Metapsychology Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and have been tested using dummy patients in a fake clinical stage set. Or who, at very least, have taken a brainsmithing course in trade school.
Enolytic Progress Notes:
Disclaimer: I believe that documenting the structure, sensory impression and price of a wine seriously alters the drinking process and conflicts with fundamental dypsoanalalytic skills. However, faced with ATF pressures to comply with state laws, I now record dynamic recollections of a buzz to clarify not only what took place while I was up-ending it, but also to indicate that certain conditions and events did not take place.
Chateau d’Abalone Verdejo, Paso Robles, 2013, around $20: Patient appears pale: HTML hexadecimal number #FFFF31, ‘Daffodil’. Wine functions well on the olfactory level, showing tropical dementia with distinct delusions of being made from mango and pineapple, although balanced by more healthy grounding in good old American Bosc pear. Precocious development in a wine so young; a diagnosis of Lolita Complex seems warranted. A sexually salubrious drinker may wish to wait until the wine has attained statutory acceptability, although priests and Gary Glitter fans will not want to cellar it for more than an hour.
Pink Zeppelin Dry Rosé, Paso Robles, 2013, about $20: Gender dysphoria is a preliminary diagnosis: Wine is incorrigibly and wantonly pink, a color that in Western culture symbolizes femininity, sensitivity, tenderness, whereas über-mannish ‘Zeppelin’ connotes National Socialism and death from above; juxtaposing the two is the wine equivalent of Herman Goering pissing rainbows. Wine displays multiple personality disorder as—depending on the session—grenache, syrah, mourvedre and cinsault each emerge as the dominant identity, manifesting creamy strawberry, ripe watermelon and finally, grapefruit.
Colossus Syrah, Paso Robles, 2012, around $50: I confess to misdiagnosing this patient, and all the subsequent mayhem is down to me—up to (but not including) medical malpractice suits. During our first session, the patient showed the textbook symptoms of megalomania, more commonly referred to as ‘narcissistic personality disorder’. Patient believes he is the Greek Titan Helios somehow transported from Rhodes to Morro Bay (possibly in pieces, like the Statue of Liberty) and manifested delusion of grandeur in the fixed belief that he possesses superior qualities in strength, power and general scrumptiosity.
In fact, during our second session, I delved deeper into the subject, by which I mean I opened the bottle and drank from it, and concluded that all the ego, sense of omnipotence and grandiose delusions are justified. This wine is indeed superior to all other Paso Robles syrahs, and me and the Titan just rented a room at the Farmhouse Motel.