The news last month that Harvey Schmidt had died sent us down one of the sweeter byways off Memory Lane.
Mr. Schmidt, 88, and his pal Tom Jones wrote the world’s longest-running musical, “The Fantasticks.” It opened in 1960 at the Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village and ran for 17,162 performances.
You’ve seen it, right? It’s a love story: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl go their separate ways, suffer their separate heartaches and, to the relief of their feuding fathers, reconnect. As they embrace, the narrator sings a line from “Try to Remember.”
“Deep in December, it’s nice to remember,
Although you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December, it’s nice to remember,
Without a hurt the heart is hollow.”
It’s difficult to believe that lyrics so gentle would make it in theater today. Like our political discourse, conflict and condemnation are much cooler than sentiments as fragile as petals. But there was a time. Try to remember.
In 1998, The Grand was casting a local production. We showed up for the tryouts, sang like a nightingale but did not make the cut. Even so, our immersion in “The Fantasticks” has paid dividends. Example: While knocking back a few glasses of Coto de Hayas 2016 Campo de Borja garnacha/syrah, we reflected for the millionth time on the infinite variety of blends such as this one.
Blends spring on you unexpected and often can be surprising. Not so with pure varieties such as merlot, cab or chardonnay. You have a pretty good idea what you’re in for, and how daring is that? It’s like that song the feuding fathers sing:
“Plant a radish.
Get a radish.
Never any doubt.
That’s why I love vegetables:
You know what you’re about!”
We took a chance — not a very big one — on Coto de Hayas (Rooster Brother, $8.45). Cherry red, fruity and dry. A very nice dinner wine that would pair well with something spicy. It’s a little bolder than a cab and not as zippy as a syrah. But we liked it because sometimes you just want to do something different. Like the girl in “The Fantasticks”:
“To do the things I’ve dreamed about
But never done before!
Perhaps I’m bad, or wild, or mad,
With lots of grief in store.”
Coto de Hayas is grief-free, thank goodness. Some other blends, on the other hand, could be tragic. But, what the heck, try as many as you can. It’s a risk, but you used to take risks when you were younger, didn’t you?
Try to remember.