I played a mother surrogate tonight.
It's not like it sounds. My friend Holmes has three season tickets to the Symphony. He usually takes his girlfriend and his Mom.
But Mom's in Florida at the moment, so I was runner-up for the pleasure of dinner and Masterworks.
We met up at Arcadia, took our positions at the bar and had a splendid time drinking the Cline Cashmere Red Blend and catching up.
Because they're inescapable these days, we began with the deviled eggs, here served over basil gremolata.
Holmes continues to insist that $6 for three egg halves is a bit much, but it seems to be the going rate all over town.
I started with the apple and arugula salad with candied walnuts, bleu cheese and cider apple vinaigrette, regretting only that the kitchen was over-generous with the dressing.
The black tiger shrimp ceviche over polenta with shaved greens and orange curry oil, a dainty portion, followed, but it was the girlfriend's Braveheart Black Angus strip steak that stole the show.
We also gave a nod to the obscenely rich potato pave with thyme and Parmesan.
As we sat there enjoying our food, the bartender popped a bottle of bubbly and Holmes commented, "It's like a woman sighing."
For a guy who was told by a date once to watch "The Notebook" because he wasn't romantic enough, I found that sentiment quite poetic.
It also led to us getting glasses of Cava to accompany our chocolate torte with chocolate gelato.
The torte oozed butter in the best possible way and the gelato was sticky with the heavy creaminess that defines good gelato.
Good thing we had the crisp-tasting Cava to cut that richness.
We barely made it up to Center Stage after lingering over our final course but managed to slide into our seats minutes before showtime.
When the concert mistress walked out to begin things, Holmes commented, "How does she play in those shoes?"
She did have on cute shoes, no doubt about it. But when you have to wear conservative black onstage, your shoes are your only outlet for razzle-dazzle.
I usually defer to him on musical matters since he's a talented viola (and guitar) player, but before I could do so, he went on, "And look at the third chair's shoes!"
Hers were the tallest of stilettos and yet she seemed to have no problem whatsoever playing her instrument.
The program was definitely an interesting one, beginning with Piazzolla's extended tango in five parts, "Tangazo," written in 1968.
I loved everything about it: the knocking on the violins, the tapping of the bows to the instruments, the alternate slow and quick tango pace.
I'm sure that that was an analogy for something.
Applauding afterwards, I turned to Holmes to rave about it and he responded, "He should have scored a Bond movie!"
Yea, a Bond movie's seduction scenes, for sure.
Next up was the featured player of the evening. Guesting was guitarist Jason Vieaux on Rodrigo's "Concierto de Arnjuez for Guitar and Orchestra."
When Vieaux walked out in an open-collared black shirt, Holmes sniffed, "Man, if I'd known, I'd have left the bolo at home."
In fact, he looked quite dapper in his black shirt and black bolo, a gift from his absent mother.
The piece went back and forth between the soloing guitar and the orchestra, highlighting Vieaux's virtuosity.
During intermission, I ran into local rocker Prabir with his Mom (clearly good sons take their Moms to the Symphony) and learned that they'd been as thrilled with that first piece as I'd been.
Prabir said he'd been eagerly anticipating hearing it ever since he found out it was being performed tonight.
Okay, good, so it wasn't just my overactive glands responding to the seductive music of an Argentinian from a family of Italian immigrants.
We returned to Bolcom's "Commedia for (Almost) 18th--Century Orchestra," written in 1971 and based on the idea that the bite of a tarantula can only be relieved by music.
With its unexpected sounds and references to traditional classical music, it offered something for every taste.
Conspicuously absent during the piece were the concert mistress, the second violin and the cello soloist, all of whom reappeared at the end of the piece, having played their parts off-stage.
Just a composer's idea of comedy, I'm figuring.
Last up was Mozart's "Symphony No. 39," which meant nothing to me but thrilled Holmes since he'd heard No. 40 performed before but never No. 39.
I only wish my musical savvy extended to knowing which Mozart pieces I've heard played live.
Hell, I'm lucky he even deigns me worthy to accompany him given my appalling lack of classical music knowledge.
More realistically, I'm lucky Mom's out of town every January.