What McConaughey means by selfish is listening to his own reasons for doing things and focusing energy only on projects that resonate personally.

"I do have less time for friends now," he admits. "My close friends have had to come to understand that I can't just throw on a backpack and say, 'We'll be back in four days.'"

For years, one of his partners in crime was Lance Armstrong. He and Armstrong were often spotted around Austin, jogging or getting their party on. With the topic being evolution, growth, and reconciling the personal and professional selves, how, I wondered, was McConaughey feeling about his friend post-confession?

"He told a lie, he's not a liar," McConaughey says, a little uneasily. "When it came out, I took it personally, but then I realized it ain't personal to him. I was going, 'That son of a bitch!' but then I thought, 'Well, what was he supposed to do? Call me to the side and go, "Hey, I did this"?' But I'm happy for him now, because despite all this outside conflict, he doesn't have this inner conflict anymore."

The Châteauneuf-du-Pape is spent, and we're nearly out of time. McConaughey apologizes for not feeling up to facing the Mardi Gras mayhem beyond the garden walls.

I wonder aloud what serendipitous adventures we might be missing. McConaughey's sympathetic. He knows what we all want from him, the part he's expected to play. And it's not as though he's put his well-crafted fun-loving personality behind him; it's just that he's got other priorities tonight. It's getting dark, and he's due home to see the two older kids off to sleep and stay up late with the youngest.

"Awwwww, man," he says with a happy, mischievous grin. "I know you need to fill in the part of the article with the words about where we went and why and what happened on the ride over. But you know what? We were at a bar out there, and we said, 'Let's go find an abandoned old house built by a free slave in 1855. Let's take some nice French wine, because she had a child with a Frenchman, and drink it in their back garden, where you know there were some stories told. . . ."

And just like that, Matthew McConaughey, the natural raconteur, manages to recast our quiet, shut-in evening as a kind of virtuous adventure in hiding out. He sets down his wineglass and stands to go.

"So I'll take this frontier over that one," he says, pleased with his story and happier still that, as he told his little songbird bro, it's time to leave the perch, time to call his lady friend and fly away.

• • •


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