Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Devil Went Down to Third Street

I have seen the devil and he was at a diner.

Which is not where I began my evening. First up was meeting a friend at Aziza's, where I walked in to an empty restaurant.

As in no one but me and the hired help.

Apparently Restaurant Week is taking its toll on non-RW places, although our server said that an early crowd had just left.

I felt bad for the staff, money-wise, but their Halloween costumes were good and I was okay with one-on-one service.

My friend followed me in shortly after I struck up a conversation with a customer picking up his to-go order.

When I heard him say he'd painted himself brown for Halloween last year, I had to ask.

"It's no big deal," he shrugged. "I'm Mexican so it's okay."


The wine list yielded up Riscal Proximo Tempranillo, a red we needed given the damp and cool night.

"I think it's actually going to freeze tonight," my friend said incredulously. Kill me now; it's October 29th.

Despite multiple compliments on my tights tonight, I am in no way ready for tights weather.

We had lots to discuss: upcoming anniversaries, CD gifts, whether or not guys ever fully mature, you name it.

Our servers were unfettered enough to join in on conversations throughout the night, providing illuminating other viewpoints.

For dinner, we chose whipped Prosciutto with cashews, citrus, basil and balsamic on bread.

The concept of whipped Prosciutto intrigued us both but the resulting spread had an appealing depth of flavor that we loved.

Neither of us could resist local wood-grilled rabbit with Brussels Sprouts, carrots and anchioade, but we were both surprised that the veggie mixture was not hot.

Which is not a complaint, because it was a flavorful, textural delight.

The rabbit, although a tad salty, was perfection when eaten with the craisins for contrasting sweetness.

Although I wasn't crazy about the music (a vintage '50s station), both my friend and the servers loved it.

It led to a discussion of which Patsy Cline song is best done karaoke-style.

That's information I never need to know.

Sipping our wine after we finished, our server offered dessert and we declined...until we started talking about the great Aziza cream puff and then we caved.

Setting it down in front of us, our server justified it saying, "It's small anyway." What she meant is that it wasn't as big as our heads like it usually is.

After discussing the Lincoln movie with a guy who didn't make it in due to his size ("No one over 200 pounds," he said. "People were skinny during the Civil War, especially Confederates."), we left.

Even though it was almost 11, we had theater to see.

"Robert Johnson and the Devil"was playing at, of all places, Third Street Diner.

Most surprisingly of all, it was playing on the third floor of the diner. I didn't even know that there was a third floor.

It's not a big space and it filled up quickly but there was drink service up there, so things were pretty convivial.

The play was about blues guitarist Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 in Mississippi.

The fog machine put out a serious amount of fog in the small room and lasted far longer than the audience expected.

But the short play was elevated by Roi Boyd's performance as the Devil, although his horns had a bad habit of slipping down to his shoulders.

Friend and I laughed so hard we almost cried.

The story of a man fascinated by women and whiskey (as opposed to, say, men and tequila) took a turn for the worse, like the musician's life, when a jealous husband laced his bottle of booze with strychnine.

Because apparently, even a deal with the devil can't ensure immortality.

There was a guy in the front row with a loud but distinctive laugh. After the show, the narrator put the mic in front of him and said, "You should just laugh."

When the play ended, the actors became musicians and a blues band kicked into high gear where moments before a play had been.

The Devil was absent but he probably had souls to buy.

But not mine. There's nothing I want badly enough to sell mine for, at least nothing that I can't get on my own.

I hope.

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