Friday, September 10, 2010

Enjoying the Subtext

After weeks of schedule incompatibility, a girlfriend and I finally made plans for tonight. Just to be sure, she sent me an e-mail yesterday, "Hey! Do we have a date for tomorrow? A patio somewhere?" I just knew it was my delightful lunch on Ettamae's balcony that had her pining for outdoor conversation.

So I suggested Amuse, knowing that she hadn't been there and that they had an outdoor space. But upon arrival, we were told it was a "serving area," which sounded vaguely unwelcoming and we compromised at the bar where I knew from past experience that bartender Tommie would welcome us with open arms.

Beginning with his enthusiastic greeting (I was flattered that he remembered me) right through his attentive service, we wound up happy to have chosen him over the outdoor seating, despite the beautiful day. Even when he was absolutely slammed with drink orders, he managed to be charming and attentive.

We drank local, she with the Barboursville Cab Franc and me with the White Hall Viognier. With almost a month's worth to catch up on, we almost had too much to talk about.

She shared near-fires, ER visits and guerrilla drawing classes. I had nothing half so exciting, but shared tales of publishers, birthdays, and some of the undeniably interesting comments the blog has gotten lately.

As always the VMFA crowd was as good as entertainment. Tonight they were hosting a lecture on Faberge, a topic of minimal interest to me, but the crowd of lecture-goers proved that I am in the minority.

Bejeweled women and bow-tied men were everywhere and many, many old fashioneds were sent out to tables. I wanted to think that they were all having a good time, but nothing about their collective demeanor indicated that.

When we got peckish, my friend couldn't resist the mussels and Surry ham in a rich garlic broth and although I'd had the dish before, I was happy to pig out (pun intended) and sop until that buttery goodness was gone.

We followed that with the chocolate hazelnut torte with fresh berries and with the copious amounts of wine we enjoyed, were satisfied on every level.

Because this is the one local girlfriend who knows where all the bodies are buried, I had as-yet unshared stories she needed to hear. Likewise, her recent "big talk" with the boyfriend yielded all kinds of conversational fodder. As much as I enjoy my guy friends, I know that they don't want to hear this kind of stuff.

Three and a half hours later, we decided to stroll the museum and get our blood moving again. Although we've both seen the Chuck Close show, we headed directly there. Coincidentally I ran into my friend Andrew (note mention by name, friend) and his main squeeze viewing the show for the first time. Richmond truly is a small town.

On our way out, we stopped by the German Expressionist exhibit, a show I'd seen but she hadn't. You have to love German art; such angst, such thickness of paint, such tortured woodcuts! It was fun interpreting the show together, especially since she's an illustrator/painter and as big an art geek as I am.

After parting on the Boulevard, I headed over to Sprout for music. I guiltily took a four top because it was all that was available but told owner Laura to feel free to seat others at my table if necessary, community-style.

I then ordered a glass of the Horton Stony Blush (why leave the state after all that earlier Virginia wine?) and the stuffed onion with pesto and bacon.

Moments later a girl I'd met at last night's Tortoise show spotted me and joined me at my lonesome table. Next thing I knew, the guys at the next table, only one of whom I knew, were asking me about the Tortoise show and I was trying to explain the very male-ness of it. They understood immediately, nodding as if the shortage of girls and abundance of testosterone were of no surprise to them.

My stuffed onion was as tasty as it was unusual, but right up the alley of an onion and bacon lover like me. My friend got the Parisienne gnocchi and raved about it.

She finished with the raisin bread pudding which she insisted I try because "it tastes like a warm donut." In fact, it did and a warm donut is a tough thing to resist. I may have taken more bites than were offered, but she was generous. Or polite.

Music followed, beginning with owner Jamie's band, Baby Help Me Forget. He was an amazing front man, singing, shimmying, and dropping to his knees; his feet never stopped sliding around the floor James Brown-style. The audience never stopped smiling throughout their entire set.

The Visitations was one guy with a guitar, a computer and pedals, playing a fun set that the crowd loved. And the talented Diamond Center are my favorite local shoegazers.

So I spent the beautiful evening indoors. What of it? There'll be plenty of other nights I can be outside when there's no wine, , food, art, conversation or music calling to me.

I'd go sit on my porch right now and finally enjoy a bit of the cool night air, but I think I'd prefer to reread some of the delightful comments that have been coming my way of late before I go to bed.

Comments as compliments, don't you know. Or at least that's how I choose to read them.


  1. What? No comments about the best evening I've had in weeks? No poetry... no operas....? I'm depressed.
    Nevertheless, Friday at the VMFA was great fun - from the dark Germans to the bow-tied elite of Richmond... there was much to be smart asses about. You're a good friend Miss Karen, and a helluva writer

  2. I never know what posts will inspire comments. All I can do is share and hope that readers will have something to say...