It began with a man carrying an ax at the Roosevelt.
As in, there was a huge ax handle sticking out of his backpack tucked discretely beneath the bar. Right next to me.
I was only mildly concerned until he informed me that he'd come directly from the hardware store and that he'd also bought a roll of plastic.
Uh huh. Sure.
Upon further conversation, I learned that Patrick, a recent transplant from San Francisco, had just bought a load of wood, all of which was too wide for his Church Hill fireplace.
Wisely, he'd bought an ax to chop it to fit. The plastic was to move and then cover the pile.
Uh huh. Sure.
Like the bartender, he'd been one of the "Lincoln" movie extras before getting bored with the whole process.
"I saw Daniel Day-Lewis do a scene, I saw Spielberg and then I was over it. Anyway, it was more of a bro-friend-fest. It was lots of guys I knew and we talked about music, Richmond and grilling meat."
Sort of sums up mankind, doesn't it?
Actually, a friend and his wife stopped by the bar to say hello and knew Patrick, a photographer with an awesome drooping Civil War mustache, and vouched for him.
It didn't much matter at that point since I was 45 minutes into our conversation by then and had decided to take my chances on talking to an ax murderer on my own.
My reassurance came when he told me he was going to the Drive By Truckers show at the 9:30 Club tomorrow night and borrowing his brother's Cadillac Escalade to make the trip.
He promised to wear his helmet in the Escalade, making the entire conversation worthwhile.
Once Patrick climbed aboard his motorcycle and took off, I turned to my right-hand neighbors and began chatting with the three guys on that side.
Somehow, they were all Patricks, too.
Luckily, by that time I'd finished my Gabrielle Rausse Vin de Gris and moved on to the Blenheim Cab Franc.
One can't face her second, third and fourth Patricks for the night without a bit of fortification.
And the Patricks varied widely. One was a P.E. teacher, one wanted to discuss restaurants and the third engaged me in a discussion of spirituality after death.
While entertaining them, a quartet came up behind us and tried to order the Barboursville Octagon, which the Roosevelt was out of.
The bartender's recommendation was to sub the Linden Hardscrabble Red and I took the opportunity to second that opinion.
Sharing my tale of a recent evening devoted to the Hardscrabble, I heartily recommended that they set their sights on Linden and convinced them to do so.
Meanwhile, I savored the roasted fennel and oyster stew with smoked bacon, fennel pollen and lemon oil. Divine and obscenely rich.
They were an eating out bunch, the Patricks, so once the conversation turned to how La Grotta had the best steak in town (no doubt much to the disgust of the vegan Patrick, also a fan of German hip-hop), I ordered the crostini with local beets and ricotta.
The crostini was a thing of beauty with thinly sliced yellow beets atop a thick layer of ricotta perfectly salted.
Eventually two of the Patricks departed, leaving me with the Philly Patrick who assured me that I'd love Cape May (I'd heard the same from multiple people before) and that he'd be at the Balliceaux show I'd soon be attending.
But only because I told him about it.
Even better, the Hardscrabble group stopped by to rave about the wine I'd chosen for them and left me aglow in heir gratitude.
Then it was on to Balliceaux and a most diverse crowd.
Long before I ran into Patrick #4, I saw several familiar faces: one of the members of Photosynthesizers, the band I'd come to see, who'd friended me after our first meeting ("I've been reading your blog, too" he told me) a guy who wished me Happy New Year "and all that pagan stuff" and a handsome gay friend who kissed me not once but four times on the lips ("Why don't you ever ask anything about the real me?").
I have to assume my pheromones were in full effect tonight.
A guy walked up behind me to get a drink and leaned in, taking a deep breath. "Mmmm" he said, "your hair smells so good. So do you."
For the record, I wear no scent.
Turns out he'd just come from the Republic (the smelliest place in town) so, in comparison, I'm sure I did smell pretty good since I didn't reek of cigarette smoke.
A guy who'd been hired by the band to perform magic tricks approached me and made balls appear and disappear, stuck his finger through a non-existent hole in my hot pink scarf and even made the three of clubs dance after I'd chosen it from the deck, before leaving me to entertain the masses.
A charming guy (who turned out to be in the band) guessed me for a Leo (I'm a Gemini) but had high praise for my legs and their potential.
When he challenged me on not having seen the band before, I retaliated with specific shows and venues and he was forced to acknowledge his error in misjudging me.
Well, except for my legs and their potential.
He also told me straight up that I wasn't from Richmond or the West Coast. His guess? Boston or D.C.
Points were awarded for accuracy.
Photosynthesizers played an outstanding set, necessitating much dancing amongst the crowd. Hip-hop fan or not, there is a singular pleasure to live hip-hop done as well as they do it.
The magician returned and changed into a high school English teacher and I was rewarded with someone with whom I could discuss Shakespeare, the Iliad and punctuation.
I don't often meet a guy to whom I can recommend "Eats Shoots and Leaves" but he was one.
During the last song, the hair smeller returned, questioning the force field the gay friend had thrown around me.
Since when am I so interesting?
It was probably a good thing that the lights came up.
Mom always said that it's best to take raging pheromones home at a reasonable hour.
Okay, she didn't really, but she