…Michael Jackson Makes Small Boys Nervous… or at least, things I’ve learned from a sommelier…



I’ve always reveled in how amazing and odd my life has been. Not much has been the least bit conventional. For that, I am grateful. I sincerely hope it remains on that course. The few moments it has been, I’ve found myself always immediately bored and feeling utterly purposeless. I relish my life, my tomorrows, all of the odd bits left to discover, and wonder sometimes how it will all unfold.

A few years ago, this whole thing came up; Michael Jackson Makes Small Boys Nervous. I suppose in this day and age I should qualify that it was after THE Michael Jackson had passed away in that stunning trilogy of deaths along with Farrah Fawcett and Patrick Swayze. The fact that he was gone and the statement ‘makes’ obviously implies it’s nothing about him per se, merely a string of words. And it is, exactly that.

It’s something that was given to me in the course of a random conversation with my sommelier friend about how they study and remember copious amounts of information. She uses mnemonic devices to spark her memory, in some cases. This was one that was used to remember wine bottle sizes. M J M S B N. I was puzzled, and rattled off what I knew of bottle sizes, and learned that many were obsolete and redundant, and these six were sort of it, what was left…

Interestingly, the wine bottle you buy most often at the store is 750ml, approximately equal to a fifth of spirits, and that bottle, whether fluted/tapered or with a collar, has no name whatsoever. The big bottles do, however.

Everyone, likely, has heard of a ‘Magnum’ (the ‘Michael’ part of the mnemonic). It’s a double size bottle of 1.5 liters. You may also have heard of a ‘Double Magnum’, which is 3 liters, but has become obsolute, and thus does not appear in the mnemonic…

Next is the ‘Jeroboam’ (‘Jackson’), which is 4.5 liters and also used to be alternatively and simultaneously known as a Rehoboam (a term which is mostly obsolete/redundant).

After that is the ‘Methusalah’ (‘Makes’), also once referred to as ‘Imperial’, at 6 liters.

Then there is the ‘Salmanzar’ (‘Small’), a 9 liter bottle, and after that the ‘Balthazar’ (‘Boys’), coming in at 12 liters.

Finally, there is the ‘Nebuchadnezzar’ (‘Nervous’), a whopping 15 liters, equal to 20 bottles of the un-named 750ml bottle you probably have laying around in some manner.

It all fascinates me on some other level, of course. Wine bottles of varying sizes are almost all named after Old Testament Biblical figures for reasons I am not certain of. It’s on my list of things to one day discover, explore, another rabbit hole I will indeed wander down…

For the time being, it is fun, a complete blessing to be given such a simple little thing; Michael Jackson Makes Small Boys Nervous. I will never regret filling my brain with such lovely and irrelevant thoughts, and all the doors they show me that I want to open…


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