Sun, 05/23/2021 - 10:34pm

To the Rescue!

Michael Faulkner goes in search of the fizz

My daily early-morning routine begins at 5 a.m. with one cup of coffee, a tall glass of water and a five-mile run. Afterward, I eat one cup of fresh blueberries, one cup of Chobani Greek Yogurt and drink one 8.45-ounce can of PERRIER-LIME.

PERRIER-LIME has become a psychological and physical addiction both morning, noon and night – PERRIER-LIME for a refreshing midday thirst quencher, and in the evenings with either vodka or tequila as a relaxing low-calorie/low-sugar cocktail.

Friday morning, prior to leaving for the Moore County Kennel Club shows held in Pinehurst, North Carolina, I follow my morning routine to the tee. With sweat dripping off my shiny forehead from the five-mile morning run, I proceed to the smaller of our two kitchens and collect the last remaining sleek, sexy can of PERRIER-LIME. I infuse the carbonated mineral water with fresh ginger juice, and slowly savor the goodness as it transports me to Vergeze, the small town in the south of France where the natural sparkling goodness is produced.

“I will go to the store in Pinehurst upon my arrival and buy some for the weekend, along with CHOBANI and blueberries,” I remark to SAM-THE-CAT, who sits on the kitchen counter waiting for his second round of morning kitty crack.

BIGMICHAEL and SADIE-FRENCH manage to stay out of my way while I collect my Black-Ballistic-Nylon-Yoga-Bag (BBNYB), CPAP Machine (CPAP), Large-Black-Ballistic-Nylon-Rolling-Garment-Bag (LBBNRGB), Mini-Back-Ballistic-Nylon-Man Bag (MBBNMB) and my new favorite, REBECCA-RAY BREEDER’S CUP DUFFEL BAG (RRBCDB) containing my essential running supplies and extra shoes. “Yes, driving to the shows definitely has its advantages,” I announce out loud, continuing my conversation with SAM-THE-CAT while loading up BUICK for the 4.5-hour-long journey to Pinehurst.

The trip begins with NPR’s Morning Edition. I am especially taken in by the segment on making the perfect Roll Up French-Style Omelet, which leads to me to sending my friend/fellow foodie and club show chairperson K-McT an ETA update. NPR manages to captivate me for roughly 45 minutes, and the duration of the trip to Pinehurst is spent back and forth with work-related calls and updates to friends MBO and fellow judge MS.ROZ, who is also driving from Virginia.

After four-hours-37-minutes, BUICK guides me into the HOMEWOOD SUITES by HILTON OLMSTED VILLAGE. I exit BUICK, taking an extra minute or two to stretch. It takes a few seconds for the 60-year-old bones to stabilize into the vertical stance. Grabbing BBNYB, CPAP and MBBNMB, I leave BBNRGB and RRBCDB in the car for later collection and enter the lobby. Check-in is seamless, with my room on the ground floor, just past the bar.

“TITOS PERRIER-LIME, please!” I mumble while passing by, en route to Suite #106. I enter, thrilled to find a spacious sitting area, small kitchen, large bedroom and bath. “This is perfect. Now, MICHAEL, off to the grocery store for PERRIER-LIME, CHOBANI GREEK PLAIN YOGURT and FRESH BLUEBERRIES.”

GOOGLE is deployed. HARRIS-TEETER is located within 1.5 miles of the hotel, and BUICK transports me directly there. Friday afternoon and the upscale grocery chain is hopping. At the entrance, I grab one of the many small green handheld begging-to-be- used shopping baskets and proceed to the blueberries. Directly to the right of the blueberries is a full-service bar, packed full of shopping patrons. I contemplate a quick TITOS PERRIER-LIME prior to the CHOBANI YOGURT, then realize that if this random act of self-indulgence takes over my sound mind and body, I just might not make it to the judges’ dinner at the PINEHURST COUNTRY CLUB. Perhaps KMcT will never forgive me if this were to occur. With a sudden out-of-body experience I see myself in Social Troll Land to which all uncouth people are banished. 

“Snap out of it, Toots,” my subconscious mind suddenly proclaims. I do. I turn my head to the left, pretend the social option is only a figment of my imagination, grab the CHOBANI and PERRIER-LIME, check out and leave as fast as possible.

The PINEHURST COUNTRY CLUB, site of the US OPEN, is the perfect location for a relaxing dining experience. Sitting on the patio overlooking the last hole of the course while golfers are being applauded for their efforts is entertaining, to say the least. And it sets the tone for a wonderful show weekend, thanks to the amazing efforts of the club, especially KMcT and BP & PP.

MBO takes on the monumental task as my ring steward for the weekend, guiding me through day one with ease and comfort. We are rewarded, once again, with another round at the country club. Saturday evening, prior to calling it a day, I methodically pre-pack BBNRGB, BBNYB and RRBCDB, leaving out my morning running gear for my daily five-mile run. The alarm is set for 4 a.m. I will rise, drink a glass of water, drink a cup of coffee, complete my five miles and 45 minutes of yoga, followed by CHOBANI yogurt, fresh blueberries, a can of PERRIER-LIME. I will then take a hot shower, finish packing, check out, and drive to the show. Wrapping my face in CPAP head gear, I relish knowing that I have prepared for everything, or at least I thought so.

The gentle sounds of Gregorian chants gracefully lure me from sleep, signaling time to move my not-so-fat-anymore ass, and get running. Bathroom, water, coffee, running gear, and I’m out the door, turn left and head straight for the gym. I prefer running outdoors, however GUY FIERI and two episodes of DINERS, DRIVE-INS AND DIVES allow for an escape from the repetitious Precor treadmill.

Upon my return to Suite #106, I quickly devour CHOBANI and FRESH BLUEBERRIES, leaving the remaining case of PERRIER-LIME in the refrigerator until my departure. For some unknown reason, I choose not to do my morning yoga session and proceed directly to the shower. I have never been one to linger in the shower – it’s a quick in/out followed by the vanity routine. I tidy up my toiletry bag, place it in BBNRGB, zip it close and begin to dress, with plenty of time to enjoy a second cup of coffee before checking out.

I take no more than two steps into the sitting room/kitchen area when the system-wide fire alarm goes off. I wait to see if it ends quickly before taking it too seriously. It continues. Not wanting to get stuck in the hotel, I quickly grab all my belongings, exit the hotel, and toss all the stuff into BUICK. Within minutes, two massive firetrucks arrive on the scene with no fewer than 15 firemen and women jumping into action.

“OMG! What are we going to do? I need to get back in and get ready for the dog show!” a woman in pajamas blurts from my right. I don’t stick around to find out and leave for the show one half-hour prior to the start. I get halfway to the show site and realize that I failed to retrieve the remaining PERRIER-LIME from the refrigerator, and envision it becoming engulfed in flames. “Probably not worth turning around!” Then I envision the entire refrigerator becoming engulfed flames. “Now truly, not probably, not worth turning around in an attempt to save them,” I convince myself.

MBO, KMcT and DK scurry around getting table covers placed and other essential chores prior to the start of the show. I enter the hospitality tent all bright eyed and bushy tailed. The three of them turn and look as if I mistakenly set my alarm for the wrong time.

“Good morning! Guess what? The fire alarms are going crazy at the hotel. I made a mad dash to get out before I was stuck. Two large trucks and guests outside in their sleep wear wondering if they will make it to the show in time. And the really bad part – I left my PERRIER-LIME in the refrigerator.”

“I think we should consider delaying the start of the show for one hour,” offers KMcT. She leaves to discuss it with MB-F. It is agreed that in light of the HILTON OLMSTED VILLAGE emergency, the show will be delayed.

Before it’s official, I call the hotel to see if the alarms are still blaring. “Hello! Yes … checking to see if the alarms are still going off and folks remain outside?”

“Unfortunately, yes, they are,” the hotel receptionist shares and promptly hangs up.

“I have an idea. I will drive over and check on the status and report back before the decision is made to delay the start of the show,” MBO speaks authoritatively.

“Excellent idea, I will ride along with you,” I say, knowing full well it’s my one chance to enter the building and make a mad dash to Suite #106 and rescue the PERRIER-LIME.

After a no-holds-barred drive to the hotel, MBO pulls her vehicle under the large porte cochere next to one of the large firetrucks. “You stay here. I will check with the firemen/firewomen,” I say. They are gathered to the right of the entrance being entertained by an exhibitor and their Bernese Mountain Dog. “If the coast is clear, I will give you the thumbs-up sign, and you can call KMcT.”

“Hey there! What’s the status with the fire? Can we enter the building?” I ask.

“All clear. It is something with the sprinkler system. You’re free to enter.”

Joyfully, I quickly enter, turn right past the bar, into Suite 106, grab the case of PERRER-LIME and return to MBO. With PERRIER-LIME safe on the front floorboard, I return to the lobby breakfast area, collect a large coffee for MBO and a little breakfast for the quick drive back to the show site, thankful that there will be no delays and there are no flames.

MBO inhales the aroma of her hot coffee, signaling her vessels to dilate and increasing the blood flow before she takes her first sip. The surge of dopamine comforts both her and me, knowing she will be in my rings all day stewarding. I reach down and extract one of the 8.45-ounce cans of PERRIER-LIME from the floorboard.

I left the tab with my right index finger and it pops, sending a spray of carbonation into my face. Slowly I drink the refreshing, fizzy, bubbly beverage with the satisfaction that my morning routine has been somewhat restored, and for just a brief moment MBO is driving me through the beautiful French countryside. And, OK, I will now admit my addiction – a round of PERRIER-LIME for everyone! But if there is only one bottle left – two falls out of three – it’s mine.

Vive la France!



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