Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Up in the Air

I got lucky on my solo mission tonight.

Which is to say that after addressing a week's worth of missed work and unattended chores, I wanted out even if no one was expressing any interest in the pleasure of my company..

For my pre-theater dinner I chose Pescado's, welcoming the blast of air conditioning when I walked in. I may not use it, but some days, I can appreciate it.

Likewise, I could appreciate the soup of the day, a watermelon gazpacho with a tomato/mango emulsion and a generous cucumber/jalapeno/mint drizzle.

The sweetness of the melon was tempered by the tomato but it was the subtle-but-there heat of the jalapeno that made for a wonderful contrast with the soup's cool flavors.

That and a glass of Vinho Verde did much to lower my body temperature and make me forget about the sweltering heat outside.

One of the owners came in and joined me for a bowl of the soup after I raved about it. Coincidentally, he'd been down at the beach only a few miles from me last week.

Which got us to talking about beach restaurants/bars and before we knew it, the bartender was telling us about her years as a server down there at one of the most renowned meat market bars. 

Everyone's got a beach story, it seems, just some more sordid than others.

Because I had plans, I had to move on to dinner in the middle of discussing a beach bartender we both knew. I decided the fish tacos were sounding good tonight. 

Seared dorado filled corn tortillas along with pico de gallo, local micro-greens, pickled red onion, and tomato/jalapeno sauce. On the side were their excellent coconut black beans, which I could eat everyday.

By the time I finished stuffing myself, it was showtime so I paid up and traveled the short distance to Firehouse Theater.

Tonight was the last night of the 9th Annual Festival of New American Plays. 

Showing was "Somebody's Daughter" by Chisa Hutchinson, the story of a Chinese-American student and her Chinese-American guidance counselor trying to muddle through the consequences of culturally sanctioned gender bias. 

The staged reading sang with energy and although there were four Asian roles and only one Asian actor, it totally worked.

Perhaps most interestingly, the subplot about the Chinese guidance counselor and her African-American boyfriend was played out in the front row tonight where a Chinese theater student sat with his African-American girlfriend.

He admitted that his family reacted just as the character's had in dealing with him dating a non-Asian.

My seatmate was VCU theater professor and director Barry Bell, whose wife was in the production, and who, like any good theater pro, questioned me on the origins of my love for theater.

Not wanting to over-share I didn't tell him I eschew television, but instead said how I'd been taken occasionally as a child and become a fanatic in college, partially due to easy access to Kennedy Center tickets from my part-time job.

As lame as that sounds, I saw more theater in college than any theater student I knew. And once I was hooked, I just never let it go.

I have a friend who used to call me "Miss First Nighter" back in the nineties. I think she meant it as a compliment.

At the talkback afterwards, the audience was enthusiastic about seeing the play produced, although opinions varied about the casting. Apparently finding ethnic actors is no easy job in Richmond, but some people felt it was non-negotiable.

On my way to the lobby, I ran into a friend and man-about-town who usually kneels and kisses my hand when he sees me. I find it charming.

Tonight he embraced me in a bear hug, lifting me completely off the ground as he did so.

I can't tell you the last time a guy scooped me up so that my feet left the floor. I found out tonight what a loss that is.

He's taken, but surely he's not the only guy capable of sweeping me off my feet. 

That much I know.

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