I’m also a cheapskate, which you’d think wouldn’t mesh with the wine thing. In truth, it just means I’m skilled at finding bargains on good stuff.
When it comes to red wine, I’m a big believer in decanting – pouring wine from its bottle into a receptacle that allows it to breathe. For older wines, it’s a good way to separate out sediment. For younger wines, the act of mixing the wine with oxygen brings out its best characteristics.
I see the non-wine drinkers among you yawning, so I’ll get on with the story.
If I’m bringing a wine to dinner party and I know it will be served early in the evening, I’m faced with a dilemma. It makes sense to pour the wine in my decanter and drive slowly to my destination with the receptacle anchored between my legs.
But like most states, Oregon has an open container law. I’ve read the law, and I don’t disagree with its intent. I’m as eager as the next person to reduce the number of folks swigging from bottles of Mad Dog as they cruise the streets looking for transvestite hookers.
I also know I’m not going to be drinking straight from my decanter. Aside from the physical impossibility of it, it’s unlikely anyone would be refined enough to bother decanting a wine but gauche enough to guzzle it behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
Let’s all pause here for a moment while we finish laughing at the fact that I just implied I’m refined.
Nevertheless, the open container issue is something I’ve considered. If a police officer pulls me over, I’m technically in violation of the law. I recognize that, but can’t help but wonder if a cop would be a little understanding. It’s not like I’m slurping it through a twisty straw, and I really can’t throw the decanter in the trunk to roll around with my spare tire. I'm also a stickler for making sure I don't drive home later in the evening if I've had more than a few sips.
In truth, I don’t spend a ton of time worrying about this. I usually just opt for wines that don’t require decanting, or make sure the wine I bring won’t be served until later in the evening. Problem solved.
But I do think about this in the context of writing rules and when it’s OK to break them.
In romance writing, there are plenty of subjects and situations authors have avoided over the years. While the implied rules have loosened and plenty of authors break them, it's still risky.
For instance, in a love story where the hero and heroine will end up pledging eternal devotion to one another, it's tough to include earlier scenes where either character is bumping uglies with a different person. There are plenty of reasons for doing it, but it takes a careful hand and an acceptance of the risk that some readers might lose sympathy or question the central relationship.
But some authors can smash the rules so beautifully you forget they're there at all. I’ve been re-reading Jennifer Crusie’s FAST WOMEN for the millionth time, enjoying the humorous look at divorce and relationships.
The fact that Crusie can write a funny book about divorce is one of many reasons I worship at her altar. Another reason is that the book includes a glorious scene in which the heroine sleeps with the hero’s best friend, cousin, and business partner (that’s all the same guy – it’s a fling, not a gang-bang).
The scene is there for a lot of good reasons, and it moves the character development in ways that couldn’t have happened without it.
But talk about risky.
I’ve reread the scene a lot, not just because it’s hot, but because it’s a good study in how to get away with something most authors wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.
While I don’t know that it’ll help me much if a cop pulls me over with a decanter of wine and a transvestite hooker in my car, I do think it’ll help me the next time I decide to break an implied writing rule.
Are there times you’ve found yourself breaking rules for a good reason? When is it justifiable and when are you just being bratty? Please share!