On occasion, I'm forced to disappear to the Wine Country in order to commune with nature.
If I feel that the last vestige of niceness is disappearing from me, a few hours spent in the company of the people of Napa and their grape products creates a reawakening, as well as a need for a hotel.
Late on Friday afternoon, I was sipping some very fine Honig cabernet when a young man engaged me in conversation.
He was 24 years old, he had a flip phone, and he was in crisis.
"I've got to leave in a minute to go to a liquor store in Fairfield," he said. This is not the sort of sentence you always hear in Napa. But this man seemed excited. Or was it perturbed?
Fairfield, should you not know it, is a city that is home to the Jelly Belly and the Travis Air Force base. Yes, it's a place where you can get your candy and have your ear drums crushed by a transport plane, all on the same day.
Why did Archie (let's call him) need to go to Dave's Liquor in Fairfield? He needed to meet E-40.
Wait, you don't know E-40? He's a very important rapper and entrepreneur, who happens to have his own wine label (Earl Stevens Selections is the brand).
Some of E-40's greatest hits include "Tell Me When To Go" and "My S*** Bang." He was going to be at Dave's Liquor in order to present his wine.
Wine tends to induce naivete in me, so I assumed that Archie, a wine aficionado, needed to meet E-40 because he loved his wine.
All the same, I asked him, just in case I'd missed a nuance: "Why do you need to meet E-40 so badly, Archie?"
"Facebook," he replied.
"Yes. I need a new profile picture."
So you're not interested in the wine? Instead, the idea is to take a picture with E-40 and make it your profile picture? Why do you need to do that?"
He looked at me as if I'd just stepped off a large circular transport plane and had candy-colored antennae poking through my remaining three hairs.
"Girls," he explained irritatedly.
"Look, when girls look at my profile picture, they'll think I'm a lot cooler because I hang out with rappers."
"But you don't hang out with rappers, Archie. You ambush them in liquor stores, demand a picture, and don't even tell them that you're using them to pick up girls. That's not hanging out with them. That's faking it."
"As if the whole world isn't about faking it," he mused with slightly sad eyes. "You don't understand how important this is. You're either somebody or you're nobody. Especially on Facebook. If girls see that you're just another guy, they breeze on by. But if they see you've done something cool with someone cool, they'll message you. I have to have girls. Girls have to want to have me."
"Wait, but Facebook is the place to get girls? I thought it was the place to tell your granny you've got a girl."
"It is, partly. But I haven't got a girl, so I have nothing to tell my granny. And you can still meet girls on Facebook. You just have to look cool."
At this, Archie began to get up, seeming stressed that he had to go through this procedure to proceed with his love life. His cheeks had reddened and he'd not been drinking.
"Wait," I said. "But you've only got a flip phone. How are you going to get a selfie with E-40?"
"I'm meeting my friend over at the liquor store. He's got an iPhone," Archie replied.
Archie rushed away, to do what needed to be done. He needed to get his free celebrity endorsement.
Perhaps it's no surprise that he felt the need to advertise himself this way. People laugh about Facebook adorning its pages with advertising, when everyone uses their own Facebook pages to advertise how interesting their lives are.
This is me. I am exciting. Love me. Want me. Be fascinated by me. Be jealous of me. But, most of all, love me.
Somehow, though, it was sad that Archie had to drive 40 minutes in order to get the job done. Because a job is what it clearly appeared to be.
This morning, I drifted to E-40's Facebook page to see if he had really been at Dave's Liquor. It was true. There, for all to see, was a picture of hordes waiting to taste the great man's wine.
I couldn't see Archie in the picture, which doesn't mean he didn't get his man, in order to get his woman.
I wonder, though, how many people were really there just to enhance their Facebook status.