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A Glass of Gramercy
by Eric Miller

Three townhouses on a well groomed, tree lined street each sold on the same day. The three new neighbors were retirees from different sections of the country who had relocated to be near their children and grandchildren. With confluent timing and so much in common, they were destined to become close friends.

Rhys and Petillance Rhydell had left a vineyard behind, over which they had toiled for ten years, turning out inferior wine. Rhys compensated for this through marketing. He replaced his corks with baby style nipple tops and renamed his wine "Suck and Savor." He and Petillance hoped to retire to a high-rise in Gramercy Park in New York City, but his marketing concept failed. Financial reality brought them to this suburban street in Pennsylvania which ironically was named Gramercy Lane. Their townhouse backed onto a steep, unmaintained hill, the crest of which was bordered by a split rail fence. Rhys planted a grapevine adjacent to each vertical post of the fence, ultimately trellising the horizontal growth along its length.

The bonsai vineyard, looking no more grand than a lonely flower in a single pot, became the symbolic connection of Gramercy Lane, where any glass of wine was referred to as "a glass of Gramercy."

Raines and Quinella Pullman were thrilled with the high style and active depth of their new life. But while it brought them much joy, it also gave them a feeling of guilt. Raines, who was used to mowing his own lawn, was surprised to see a landscaping contractor arrive daily with Los Mexicanos to take care of all things outdoor around the complex. He felt sorry for the workers, so much more disadvantaged than he and Quinella, and he was worried that they were being exploited. He sought advice from his therapist, Dr. Noel Moore Gilt, a non-participating provider in his health plan, who advised him to hum the uplifting score from the musical "Les Miserables." Instead, Raines learned how to roll his r's in words like Torremolinos. He began standing on his front porch handing out placards, giving fiery speeches in broken Spanish, and organizing the workers for whom he began to negotiate with bosses whom were none to pleased.

Quinella studied Spanish guitar, learned to make tapas, to dance Flamenco, and to make sure that "a glass of Gramercy" was frequently a Rioja, a Rueda, or a Ribera del Duero wine.

Luc and Sylvie Grenier, introduced their new neighbors to "un digestif" called Armagnac. Although the women found it too strong for their taste, the men loved it. In fact, Luc commented to them, after the first time he served it, that they drank a full bottle in one evening, when typically a bottle would last for months, or even years, in France.

"But Luc," his new friends explained, "here, it is more than an after dinner drink. It is also a delightful choice of bottle from which to fill 'a glass of Gramercy'."