Sunday, July 10, 2011

Alone Again, Naturally

Current read: "Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick" by David Thomson/1992
Best song randomly heard: "Don't Believe in Love" by Dido/2008

We had visitors all afternoon but they were friends of my guest.

I was welcoming, then I napped on the beach, we ate a fried chicken and fruit lunch and then I read. Meanwhile, they played catch-up, got burnt in the sun and drank beer.

For a day that began as cold, very foggy (the piers were invisible) and sunless, the afternoon boasted blue skies, bright sun and temperate water. It was a lovely last day.

When the visitors pulled out, my friend wasn't far behind. She's more disciplined person than I could be. You'll not find me giving up a last night in an oceanfront room; falling asleep to the sound of the ocean is a non-negotiable indulgence of mine.

After that departure, I got properly cleaned up and headed up the beach to the Ocean Boulevard patio. I had never sat oceanside and listened to the live music, so tonight was the night to correct that.

With a chair and table and a view of AR, the singer, I was able to enjoy the last hour and a half of daylight and my last night beachside instead of inside.

Thirst-quenching came in the form of Loredona Viognier with a beautifully floral nose and nice fruit. Maye it was because it was the last night, but that glass disappeared like water.

Helping my mood were the dulcet tones of the singer playing his heart out to a) a 40th birthday party for a noisy bunch of six women and b) a girl's night out for a group of seven. They never once clapped until I began doing so. Very telling.

Dinner was surf and turf: Price Edward Island mussels steeped in sake and pickled ginger with julienned veggies, followed by Sicilian veal meatballs with parsley linguine, mushrooms, capers, roasted red peppers and natural jus, making for an interesting contrast of flavors.

To accompany my meal and in a nod to my recent read. I selected the 2008 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, velvety and with the dark fruit I expected.

Knowing that it was the first vintage after the winemaker's death gave it a special significance now that I know all the sordid history behind the winery and the family..

As I was eating dinner and enjoying the singer's voice and ocean breezes, a guy approached me and asked me to join his group of locals, but I politely declined.

My server came over and offered me some bug spray and while I hadn't been the least bit bothered by mosquitoes, I sprayed my legs generously, figuring she knew more than I did.

Ten minutes later, the singer said he was being eaten alive by bugs. Good move on my server's part for saving me from that.

The singer's repertoire was varied, encompassing John Mayer, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead and finally finishing with Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." He had me all along.

I talked with a couple from Maryland who were in town to celebrate  his birthday and had been out beach house-shopping all day. We talked about the drive down and beauty of the Varina-Enon bridge.

They were amazed that I was at the beach by myself.

Once they moved inside to eat, the locals adamantly insisted I join their group of transplants, which included a Georgian who drew out her vowels like honey dripping (Jim became "Gee-im"), a former Wyndam-dweller of all things, a Norfolker by birth and a woman from the hills of North Carolina.

They, too, were fascinated by me being out by myself on vacation and wanted to adopt me for all future outings. I didn't have the heart to tell them that this was my final foray of the week.

Eventually A.R. joined us after his last set and, small world that it is, discovered that we'd been to a lot of the same shows, especially at the Norva (Band of Horses, Interpol, Imogene Heap). You just never know what you'll have in common with a stranger.

But, unlike him, my father was never a session musician for Lou Reed (a conversation starter if ever there was one).

Which means I have to find other ways to make my mark in social situations.

Lately it seems like just being out by myself is making me appealing to people. Sure, it's probably just a sympathy or curiosity thing, but sometimes that's enough.

As we prepared to leave after hours of chatter, I thanked the last two of the group about insisting I join them.

"Well, you are a hottie," Jim ("Gee-im") said before he and his wife hugged me good night.

So much for the sympathy theory.

And I'm okay with that tonight.

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