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To my great astonishment I find that my favorite wine, Merlot, is not pronounced Mer-Lot but Mer-Low. For years I have ordered Mer-Lot and wondered why the waiters giggled but now I understand why some of them talked out real loud saying, “Mer-Lot for table four,” bringing over the bottle. And why, after I tasted it, they turned to the entire restaurant and said, again real loud, “And how is the Mer-Lot?”

Yesterday I went to the liquor store, armed with my knowledge, and asked for a Mer-Low. The counter guy, Bert, said, “Why change, Michael? Mer-Low is inferior to Mer-Lot and, even though Mer-Lot costs about $10 a bottle more than Mer-Low, why?” I am so glad I have people like Bert in my life.

This evening, Elly and I went to our favorite restaurant and I ordered a bottle of Mer-Low and the waiter's lips pursed, “I am sorry, we are out of Mer-Low but we do have a nice Pin-Not and an equally good Caber-Net.” So I ordered the Caber-Net and he went off – talking loudly – “Caber-Net for table four,” and, when he brought it, he turned to the entire restaurant and said, again loudly, “And how's the Caber-Net?”

Look, it says 'Mer-Lot' on the bottle. Even if it comes from California, Niagara, Washington State, or France it says 'Mer-Lot'. You don't say 'A 20 Acre Low' when you buy property, do you? And it's Trent Lott not Trent Low. And you don't say, paying $2 for gas that it's a low rather than a lot, right?

Elly had the salmon appetizer and I had the escar-got. Snails delivered by a waiter who, after putting the dish down, said, “And how's the escar-got?” in a real loud voice as if he were talking to the entire restaurant.

Anyway, we ordered the entrée. Elly chose the rib eye while I ordered the fil-et mig-non. It goes well with a nice caber-net. Dessert: Elly had a caramel ice-cream while I had a slice of cheesecake drenched in Marlon Brando.

I admit that I am not a gourmand and lack many of the social graces yet, since I was paying the bill I don't think it's appropriate to have the staff stand by my table and laugh. All because, only recently, I learned that it's Mer-Low not Mer-Lot.

As we left, the waiter said, 'Sir, you forgot the tip.” I said, “No, I gave you a Lot and, while you may think it's a Low, it isn't.”


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