Start with a good story and end on the swings.
My favorite wine geek/musician wanted to meet up at the Roosevelt.
Until we saw they were closed for a private party. And it wasn't for us.
We switched the plans to Lemaire and at the last minute he asked if I wanted to meet him south of the river.
I declined with enough defiance and humor to make him realize there was a good story there.
So after scoring a bottle of L'Enclos des Bories Minervois, I spun my tale, saving the punch line for the end.
No way, he insisted.
Over the next couple of hours, I heard all the good winery stories before we moved on to music, Tori Amos and the urgency of competition.
I was sorry when I had to leave for my next engagement.
It also involved wine, a Fratelli Urciuolo 2010 Fiano di Avellino, scored at last week's River City Cellars tasting.
Crisp with rich undertones and the perfect way to ease into the upcoming evening, it was our aperitif before heading to City Dogs.
And, yes, that's a joke.
To my companion's horror (and fear for his stomach) I was in the mood for a dog dinner, a Tennessee slaw dog for me and Carolina dog for him, although why someone concerned about eating dogs gets pork on pork is beyond me.
When I insisted on a chocolate shake for dessert, he grimaced like I'd suggested the most outlandish thing in the world.
What, who doesn't need a sweet after all that salty?
And, for the record, he consumed fully half of that chocolate shake.
Then it was on to Balliceaux for what I knew was going to be an outstanding evening of music.
The crowd was regrettably small but wildly enthusiastic for the talent we saw.
Robin Bacior played first with a band behind her, including a cello, an instrument I find irresistible for the evocative sounds it can call forth.
I was especially fond of the songs she played on piano, hearkening back to my earlier discussion with friend #1 about the simple pleasures of a confessional girl and keyboards.
She thanked Richmond for being so welcoming, "You guys are so nice to offer your homes, your bed, your medications."
The scientist, sitting next to me, leaned over, saying, "There's a story there."
He would be the same scientist who always shows up with chocolate, although tonight's offering was sub-par.
Some kind of protein bar, he shared a piece with the warning, "It's chocolate, but it tastes a lot like chalk."
Wes Swing from Charlottesville was next and here I heard all kinds of Andrew Bird likenesses, with the upright bass, cello and his literate lyrics.
When Wes switched to playing guitar, I got more of a Nick Drake vibe.
Favorite lyric: "When you're away, my heart comes undone, like a ball of yarn."
A close second was, "I won't take you in until you pay for your sins." In the next verse, "until" became "if" for a variation on a theme.
The star of the evening was Dave Watkins and his new electric dulcitar, a thing of beauty in blue and completely handmade by Dave.
You really have to see this guy to believe the layers of sound he can create with looping and playing, knocking on and blowing into his instrument.
And no, that's not a euphemism.
Toward the end, someone in the audience called out for "Pangea's Revenge," one of the few songs Dave sings on. He tried to demur.
"How often do you get requests at a show?" the fan called out.
Pretty often, he said, before playing it anyway.
By the time the set ended, Dave was sweaty, the audience was totally caught up in his soundscapes and it was practically 2 a.m. on a school night.
But not a soul had been willing to give up such a stellar show to go home and get some sleep.
Some people even followed that with recess on a balmy night.
A person's got to seize an extra day when you have the chance...or wait four long years to exercise your Leap Day privileges.
I wasn't willing to wait.