Saturday, June 19, 2010

Forget Smitten, Forget Safe

When Andrew e-mails me and says, "It's been forever since we did drinks," we do drinks. And on a day as beautiful as this one, we do them outside, in this case on Ipanema's patio.

He tells me about moving to suburbia with his main squeeze and I tell him about my curious social life lately. He tells me a couple of juicy blogger stories and I enjoy them even when I only know of the people involved (and especially when I actually know them). We compare recent hangovers and the vastly different causes of them. And eventually, we talk music because that's what we do.

And before we know it, it's time for me to leave to make a reading in Carytown, so we never even get to the traditional CD exchange of new music. If I didn't know that I was going to see him twice in the next three days, it would've been a shame. As it was, I'll just have to delay my gratification for whatever he was going to offer up. My CDs for him will stay in the car, at the ready for the hand-off. Besides, the delay gives me time to dig up some good Micheal Buble jokes.

Chop Suey was hosting another promising reading, which seemed like the ideal activity to bridge happy hour and meeting a friend for wining and dining. Kill brain cells, enrich brain cells, kill still more. The reading was being touted as a "boy sandwich reading" with the only male author reading in between two women. Let's just say I liked the imagery.

Rachel Glaser read from her short story collection, Pee on Water, an abbreviated version of one of the stories, which dealt with art ("Are Jesus paintings of Jesus covers of Jesus paintings or of Jesus?"), music (Cobain and Coltrane got nods) and sports. At the end, the question remained: Is the U.S. a cover of England? (Quite possibly, yes.)

Next to read was Mike Young from his book We Are All Good if They Try Hard Enough, a poet who texts himself with the interesting things he hears ("It's a really expensive way to take notes," he observed). He mentioned how impressed he was that the convenience stores in RVA sell fried chicken. I was impressed with his way with words, such as "Dancing is putting yourself on inside out." Another favorite was, "The world is something I will gather for you and brush off." His poetry was full of such imagery.

Last up was Natalie Lyalin, author of Pink and Hot Pink Habitat which included poems that originated in nightmares, which were just as dire as they sound. I was particularly fond of the line, "A listless day slid into a tense night." Ah, yes, I know those days and nights of which you speak.

My final stop was Secco to meet a friend I hadn't seen since 2009, but since I arrived first, I started with the 2009 Xarmant Txakolino, not that I was able to pronounce it properly when ordering. Still, it was as light and refreshing as a Vino Verdhe, so I sipped away until my friend arrived.

I did ask that the level of the music be raised because the weekend eve crowd was drowning out any sense of ambiance in the place. Julia obliged, not a bit surprised at my request (she is my band bitch, as she likes to call herself, so she's aware of my affinity for the right music).

It was my first foray into Secco during prime time and it was mobbed in a Friday manner; there was a waiting list to sit at the bar so I stood. The staff teased me for not using my usual discretion and coming at a more civilized time, but I felt up to the challenge.

I ran into a former Floyd Avenue neighbor (we'll call him Fly Guy), a couple I had recently met and befriended at Balliceaux (they were headed to Stuzzi for their fourth visit) and a couple of guys willing to discuss what makes a woman desirable (one actually told me it was as basic as ready, willing and able).

We shared the Gorgonzola-stuffed and fried olives, the duck terrine (with pistachio and dried cherry) and the flamenquines (Serrano, fried potatoes, Meyer lemon mayo) and a bottle of red that drew praise from owner Julia (I won't bore you with what it was). The later we stayed, the more manageable the crowd became and the easier it was to enjoy the music and catch up after so many months.

She had some concerns about my life based on her blog reading, but I assured her that I was up to the multiple challenges that worried her. As another friend had recently commented on the same subject, "They're totally smitten and think you're safe," to which I'd responded, "They underestimate me then."

"They always do," she shot back.

Me, safe? Obviously they don't know that I subscribe to a line from a Mike Young poem: I want to reincarnate as an emotional guitar solo.

Emotional guitar solo types are never safe. I thought everyone knew that.

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