I got to play dress-up tonight because no cute boys were available.
My friend the theater critic hadn't met anyone he wanted to invite to the Richmond Theater Critics Circle Awards so he settled for inviting me.
"It's formal," he wrote. "Do you have a nice evening dress?'
Conveniently, I do and I can cover up my legs when it's required.
Despite me not being of the sex of his dreams, my date was gallant enough to pick me up since driving in a full-length dress is a pain.
The evening began at Popkin's for a reception and the first person I saw was singer Desiree Roots in a dress with a train.
A train. In Popkin's. Think about that.
After schmoozing and glad-handing for an hour, we moved across the street to the Empire Theater for the awards.
I didn't see many open seats and the crowd was a lively and stylish one, so it felt more like a seated party than a stuffy awards banquet.
And because these were theater people, there were not one but two intermissions to allow people time to get their drink on.
The entire show had been scripted with loads of inside jokes and lots of theater humor, including critic roasting.
When two of the presenters talked about acting versus teaching, one said that the advantage of teaching was that you could send difficult students to the principal..
Or even suspend them.
"I know some critics I'd like to suspend," actress Susan Sanford cracked. "From a bridge. Or a tall building."
Singer Susan Greenbaum asked co-presenter UR basketball Coach Chris Mooney why he'd wanted to participate, given his non-arts occupation.
He answered, "I'm not really known in this part of town." The audience loved that.
One of the biggest laughs went to Anne Holton when she was asked about the high points of being First Lady.
She mentioned the Queen's visit in 2007 and the challenges of learning all the protocols required.
"Thank God there are no queens here tonight," she deadpanned.
Another good pairing was Culture Works' John Bryan with DJ Melissa Chase.
Talking about the contribution of costume design, Bryan said, "Without costumes, theater would just be a bunch of naked people sitting around."
Pause. "Like in radio," he said.
"Hey, we wear headphones," Chase corrected him.
But it wasn't just banter. A song from each of the nominated musicals was performed throughout the evening.
Favorite lyric: "I'd rather be nine people's favorite than a hundred people's ninth favorite."
I, too, aspire to be nine people's favorite. I just want some say in who the nine are.
Like any awards show, there were surprises.
The very first award winner wasn't present.
Another acknowledged how surprised she was with her win by saying, "I was so unprepared that I'm still chewing gum."
The very talented Alan Sader got my vote for most dapper evening attire for a male in his red plaid kilt and high socks.
He looked magnificent accepting his award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Play (for King Lear).
My money is on him winning next year for playing Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof."
Best Musical was a tie between "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "Title of Show," prompting comments about RVA having room for the biggest musicals as well as the smallest (budget).
I had just turned to my (critic) seatmate and commented that Henley Street Theater hadn't won anything (she gave me a cryptic smile) when lo and behold, they won Best Play for "Last Days of Judas Iscariot."
When all was said and done, the crowd was well-lubricated, a bit hoarse after so much yelling for favorites and savoring the camaraderie of the Richmond Theater community.
What else could we do but go for munchies and rehash it all?
My handsome date who opened doors for me and introduced me all night long by saying, "This is my date. Isn't he pretty?" and I were joined by another couple at Third Street Diner.
Over diner food of nachos, cheeseburger, chicken fingers and fries (in our defense, they were out of lettuce), we watched a waitress clean the floor with the vacuum cleaner strapped to her back.
We talked about gay men with girlfriends for beards and which lecture topics attract lesbians.
And before we left, we ogled the contents of the vending machine at the front of the restaurant
Cigarettes, Advil, tampons; all the essentials of life were there.
Our server said the machine used to have candy and condoms, too but, alas, no longer.
Not that my date and I needed either. We were full and neither of us was getting that kind of lucky tonight.
Not that we hadn't looked fine enough to tempt a couple of (very different) guys.
We just didn't meet the right ones.