Drinking The Bottom Shelf, Valentine's Edition: Life As A Research Coordinator

Drinking the Bottom Shelf

Will Gordon drinks his way through the bottom shelf of the liquor store...so you don’t have to.

Editor's Note: In honor of Valentine's Day, we're hearing from the better halves of a few of our favorite columnists today. First, we'll get Research Fiancée Emily's side of the Bottom Shelf story. Take it away, Emily!


I was born to parents who kept me well nourished until I was 18, then I went off to college to learn how to order chicken wings, and then I found a fiancé who not only knows what a food processor is but can also make me peanut soup with it.

On a typical day Will makes me all three meals. He is kind enough to cook, so I do not have any reservations about eating whatever ends up in front of me. The only thing I really speak up about regarding meals is my preference for red-lidded Pyrex to tote my lunch to the office in. Blue's a bad color for food storage.

So when I decided that I would make guacamole for our two-man Super Bowl party, it was somewhat historic. And as long as I was making guacamole, I decided to make up my own "recipe" instead of just using Kenji's. I am not sure what exactly I was thinking, because nothing in my kitchen past suggested I would ever be able to pull this off.

Will and I are scarily similar in our interests and abilities. We both like New England sports teams, reading before bed, and bar-hopping on Sundays. The one glaring incongruity in our relationship is cooking ability. I spent my younger years learning how to be a microbiologist, but my love of organic compounds and the scientific method somehow failed to translate to an understanding of how to assemble an uncooked dish with a maximum of four solid ingredients. I'm good at pouring shots of faux pumpkin schnapps for Will's blind taste tests, but it's best if I stay out of the kitchen. Lucky for us, Will studied words, which I guess ended up helping him in the "reading a cookbook alone in the kitchen" category.

But I decided to give guac a shot for the Super Bowl, which resulted in my fiance pretending to move some of the light greenish liquid around with his chip and eating way more cheese and salami than he had originally planned. (Note from Will: And I had planned on eating quite a bit of cheese and salami.)

My first instinct was to never enter the kitchen again, but then what happens to us if Will gets the flu and the wings place is closed? Since I was utterly ashamed of my previous failure, I decided my next dip attempt would be in stealth, on Saturday night while Will was off checking IDs at the bar. This is the part of the week that I pretend to like. I get all excited for some alone time...until I get lonely, ignore my huge to-do list, and end up watching hospital dramas and romantic comedies from the early '90s.

I realize I can't complain about being left to my own devices and missing my Bottom Shelf writer when he is at work, but after he left, the thought of being all alone with another round of disappointing guacamole was just too much to handle, so I abandoned my redemption plan and resorted to my old standby, Trader Joe's Three-Buck Chuck Pinot Grigio and peanut butter cups.

Over the past year of being Bottom Shelf Research Coordinator, my eyes have really been opened to all the booze out there, but I am pretty simple in my tastes. While my favorite drink is Will's jalapeno-grapefruit margarita, I'm not ambitious enough to break out the squeezer and the shaker when I'm alone. I specifically choose white wine for my one-girl couch parties, because cheap white wine is one of the few kinds of liquid Will doesn't care for.

So last Saturday night was like all the others; no guacamole, just me and ol' Chuck watching fake medical shows in our suddenly gigantic, empty apartment. The party had its usual ups and downs as I tried to figure out what to do with my free time, but it ended well, as it always does: After I caught up on all the wine-drinking and TV-watching I had to neglect during a busy week of research coordination, I made it into bed in time to warm it up before I heard the door open at 3 a.m. Then on Sunday we went out for margaritas and guacamole.