by Ron Washam

The adventures of Brett Bung

Given his normal upbringing on the outskirts of a great metropolitan city, no one would have been able to anticipate that humble Brett Bung would one day emerge as the CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE! By day a low level accountant, an invisible man in the giant accounting firm Usury, Penury and Perjury LLC, at night Brett becomes the modern-day superhero CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE!

I think we all know his intro:

“Faster than a sommelier refill! More powerful than a Tim Fish review! Able to leap big egos in a single bound! Look, up at the wine bar! It’s a jerk! It’s a boor! It’s CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE!”

Yeah, the intro needs some work.

“Hello, Cora,” our hero explains, “you look lovely this morning. You’re the most beautiful accountant I’ve ever seen.” Brett was secretly in love with his office neighbor, Cora Vin. It was her piercings he wildly desired. And the way she filled the empty air with her special gas.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?” Cora responds, in that way she has of making herself sound like a case of First Growth Bordeaux — expensive, ripe and used to the finest wood. “I was reading about CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE! in the morning paper. What I wouldn’t give to see how many twists his worm has.”

“Oh,” our hero cajoles, “he’s not that special. He puts his pants on the same way I do  with a pants horn.”

“Don’t be stupid, Brett,” Cora says penetratingly, “do you know how amazing it is to be CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE!? It takes superpowers you and I can only dream of. CSW! can look at a wine list with his X-Ray vision and see right through the evil sommelier’s pricing! Just last night, according to this paper, he came to the rescue of a young couple who were about to order Dom Pérignon for their anniversary at the newest Thomas Keller restaurant. Just as the evil sommelier was about to uncork the Champagne, CSW! stepped in, appearing out of nowhere, took the $600 bottle of Dom Pérignon from the sommelier’s cloven hands and told him to replace it with a nice bottle of $50 Prosecco. Isn’t that amazing? He knew right away this young couple couldn’t possibly know the difference between an industrially produced, high volume, inexplicably popular sparkling wine from a Prosecco! He’s a hero! And with that extra $550 they were able to have the cheese course! Oh, he’s so dreamy, and so knowledgeable about everything wine. I’d let him Stelvin me all night long.”

Brett yearned to confess his superhero identity to Cora Vin. But then his life would never be the same, he wouldn’t be able to continue saving people from their wine ignorance, which was his reason for being. When ordinary people saw him dressed as CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE!, that cool pin on his lapel the perfect, impenetrable disguise, like Clark Kent wearing only glasses to fool people, they listened to him, revered him, took his wine recommendations seriously, and he was able to perform heroic acts nearly every day. If they knew he was but a low level accountant, merely a guy who had passed a multiple choice test about wine and gotten better than 75% correct, that, unlike most superheroes, he’d paid a bunch of cash to obtain his superpowers, he’s just be a laughing stock. Imagine that the Incredible Hulk had had to pay to learn how to become a big green Barry Bonds. Kinda cheapens the image.

Cora had asked to leave work early that day. She had a birthday party to attend, and she was in charge of bringing wine. Brett had offered to help, but Cora had only laughed. “You don’t know anything about wine, Brett. I’m just going to the local wine shop and buying the wines with the highest scores. I sure wish CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE! would rescue me!”

A few minutes later, Brett was walking his usual route home when he spied Cora wandering through the aisles of the local wine store, the Merchant of Vinous. Brett knew the owner to be a buffoon and a shylock, a man who sold wine by the scores it had received from various wine publications because he had little wine knowledge of his own. Cora had a puzzled look on her face, and was glancing incessantly at her watch. Brett knew what he had to do.

Glancing around for somewhere private, there haven’t been public phone booths for twenty years, goddam Superman had it easy, Brett ducked into a local bookstore. Nobody in there. Behind a shelf of the latest wine books, he removed his secret lapel pin from his pocket and fastened it to his suit jacket. His transformation was complete. Wine knowledge flooded his brain. Barolo is made from Nebbiolo. Shiraz is another name for Syrah. Carmenère is a solo from an opera by Bizet. Mercaptans are the leaders of Mermen. Chablis is Chardonnay and vice-versa. He was ready.

Confidently strolling into the Merchant of Vinous, CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE! approached the befuddled Cora Vin. “You don’t want to buy that wine just because that stupid shelf talker says it got 94 points. Only suckers and Costco buyers do that. Perhaps I can help.”

“Oh my God,” Cora disgorged, “it can’t be! But it is! You’re CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE! You’re here, and just in the nick of time. Oh, I’ve always wanted to meet you, CSW!. Yes, yes, yes, by all means, help me.”

His lapel pin glistening in the evening light, Brett, or, rather, CSW!, took Cora by the hand and showed her what to buy. Avoid New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc — they’re like wine blogs, interchangeable and tasteless. Argentinian Malbec? Are you kidding me? The only fools that buy that manipulated plonk are gaucho marks, and you wouldn’t want to be in a club that would have you for a member. Pinot Gris? Pinot Grigio? Yeah, the only grape with less character than a Koch brother.

Cora Vin was smitten. CERTIFIED SPECIALIST OF WINE! had become accustomed to women swooning after he rescued them, having them throw themselves at him when he displayed his 75% encyclopedic knowledge of wine. But this was different. This was Cora Vin. And when she invited him to share her bed after she escaped the birthday party, CSW! knew that he would. He even knew how he would manage to keep his identity secret, knew how to display the deceptive CSW pin, keep Cora from discovering that CSW! was actually the milquetoast Brett who sat next to her at Usury, Penury and Perjury LLC.

Brett had never been so happy to have had his nipples pierced.

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