Walking into Avalon, Jason the bartender looked at me and in his usual smarmy tone said, "Well, well, well." I was looking for a group of birthday party celebrants but they were nowhere in sight, not that I told him that.
Taking a seat, I spotted a good friend already at the bar. "Meeting someone?" he asked and then answered his own question, "Of course you are." I explained the celebratory nature of my visit to him and he expressed insincere-sounding concern for me being stood up.
With no sign of the birthday girl in sight and somewhere to be at 7:30, it seemed wisest to order a glass of wine and find my own entertainment.
They pickings were slim, though; Jason shared his latest melodrama (dropouts! rich aunts! wood chopping!) and the couple next to me vacillated over whether the family bed situation is good for youngsters...and they were talking about their poodle. I ordered a sandwich and prayed for strength.
Fortunately, about that time my friend decided to move himself and his cocktail down next to me and save me from eavesdropping for entertainment. My grilled cheese was a nice combination of Mozzarella, pesto, onion and tomato on focaccia and as I munched, friend began talking about building me the stereo system of a lifetime.
It began with an innocent enough question: what did I listen to CDs on? I told him, but apparently my answer was inadequate, which surely meant that my system was inadequate. He began explaining, yet again, the elaborate but sonically perfect system he has been dying to build for me.
Frankly, I think he's just looking for an excuse to start digging around on e-Bay for the obscure parts he needs to piece together a system he knows full well he doesn't need, but wants to build anyway.
I tried begging off (I don't really need it, after all), but finally caved to his enthusiasm. Yes, I need this, I really do, was what he wanted to hear and as a good friend, I gave it to him.
And then had to leave without ever having celebrated anyone's birthday. Hey, I tried.
Firehouse Theater was doing Scott Organ's "Phoenix" as part of its Readers' Theater series and I didn't want to miss it. Organ is a former Chester resident turned Brooklynite and this two-person play was featuring one of my very favorite Richmond actors, Scott Wichmann.
The deceptively simple story was about a couple who'd had one date and then met up four weeks later to discuss it. The dialog was quick, witty and realistic. Wichmann and Laine Satterfield totally sold themselves as insecure, complex and very real people who made the audience care about them.
No surprise, Wichmann had the audience howling within about fifteen seconds of the lights coming up; both his delivery and facial expressions are comedic expression at their finest. But Organ's dialog gets a lot of the credit, too.
"As far as drinks with strangers go, that was my most enjoyable yet," perfectly exemplified the understated post-modern humor throughout the staged reading. The characters, with their commitment issues battling the innate desire to be together, seemed taken from anyone's life.
There was an interesting part of the dialog about the future (hint: batteries will be so much better and there will still be no proof of god), but most noteworthy was that men of the future will be much better at relationships and seduction ("If you see it, it ain't seduction"), surely good news to the female portion of the audience.
Afterwards, at the talk-back with the playwright, the audience expressed much interest in seeing the play produced. Issues of language (the f bomb) and topic (abortion) were much talked about, but the consensus seemed to be that it was a perfect future Firehouse project.
As for hearing more about men becoming better at seduction, I'm all ears. Show me, do.