It's funny. People don't say goodnight to me, they say "What's your next stop?"
Which is understandable when I'm asked at certain points in the evening, but I get asked it when events end at 10:00. And 11:00. Even midnight.
So I'm trying something new. Sometimes I'm going home instead of making a third or fourth stop.
Scandalous, I know.
Tonight I made two stops. That's it.
The first was at Six Burner for half-priced wine night with a favorite girlfriend. It was an interesting night. Oddly enough, we saw the owner serving tables.
When another server asked if I was having my usual pink, I opted instead for red. Raised eyebrow. "It's been an emotional couple of days and I want red tonight," I told her.
"It's more dramatic, too," she said, enabling me.
Later, the bartender kept forgetting about us and finally said, "Next time just throw a shoe at me to get my attention."
All I wanted was another glass of the Gabriele Rausse Cabernet Sauvignon. It hardly seemed like shoe-throwing was in order.
Besides, we were slurping oysters. The roasted oysters with horseradish, bacon, Parmesan and roasted red pepper were a good way to get in the mood for the Shockoe on the Half Shell Festival this weekend.
After a couple of hours of chatter about her new husband's long-awaited return from his cross-country trip and some of my male "admirers" coming out of the woodwork en masse, we made to leave.
"What's next?" she asked. Okay, fair enough at 7:30.
It was the Listening Room, putting me back at the Firehouse for the third night in a row, but the first for music.
First up was Grant Hunnicutt, who usually plays upright bass in the River City Band and Ophelia, playing guitar tonight.According to him, he'd brought in a few "ringers," namely Jessica from the Jungle Beat and Jonathan Vassar, not that he needed anyone.
With his new CD about to be released, he played songs of Jonathan's, songs he and Jonathan had written together and, as he put it, "old super hits."
Favorite lyric: "Where you are now is my home and where I'll stay."
Saying he was going to play one of his favorite Ophelia songs, he zoned and called to David Shultz, "What's the first line?" before launching into a stellar rendition.
It was a pleasure to see Grant front and center for a change. He's such a low-key guy but so talented, with or without ringers.
During the break, the scientist arrived, full of energy after a busy day teaching VCU students about plant life's asexual reproduction.
In a high point of the evening, he demonstrated how he'd shown them just that. It was so funny I made him repeat it at the next intermission.
Russell Lacy played his long-delayed set next. He'd been scheduled to play last February but had been in a car accident.
"This song is about Virginia. I was out of the state for a while. Funny how you miss home," he said by way of an introduction.
He had a fine voice, tender and at times almost bluesy. My musician friend suggested that he'd listened to a lot of James Taylor.
"Here's one I wrote after my wreck," he said, beginning with the lyric, "I always pray a little too late." The song came across beautifully heartfelt. "As long as you don't die, you can get a good song out of it," he explained philosophically.
You have to appreciate a musician with a sense of humor.
The intermission afforded me a chance to enjoy a piece of Thai tea Tres Leches cake with salted caramel made for the occasion.
And speaking of occasions, today was David Shultz's thirtieth birthday, so after he walked onstage and scooped his guitar off the bed (part of the set for "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"), the audience burst into "Happy Birthday."
It was at that point that the scientist leaned over and pointed at David and quietly said, "That guy sells me all my latex gloves for the lab. It's a lot of gloves."
I swear I couldn't make this stuff up.
And then David, minus the Skyline, got down to singing.
Favorite lyric:"Something's drawing me to you. Must be madness in my bones."
He also covered Paul Simon's "Gumboots," saying he just recently learned it. The crowd ate up his version of the song and its spirited delivery.
Promising two more songs ("And then we can all enjoy our evening"), he began a song, promptly forgot the lyrics, grinned and stopped.
"And that song was called The Falling Tree," he said sheepishly. "That song's really good when you do it right."
His entire set had been really good and who knows, maybe thoughts of his birthday celebration were crowding his mind.
David's a Listening Room alum and what's an occasional missed lyric between regulars?
It was as I made my way to the door after the show that the absence of good-nights became clear.
When asked, I shocked more than a few people with my intent to go home.
It's good to know I can still surprise people.