Friday, March 2, 2012

Eating Feet and Feeling Groovy

Fortunately, it wasn't necessary to send up the bat signal to find me.

That had been the backup plan for communicating once I made dinner plans with two girlfriends.

They'd exchanged cell phone numbers and dismissed me, saying that if there was a change in plans, they'd send up the signal to notify me.

But everything went off without a hitch and we found ourselves at the front table of Aziza's on Main, ready to wallow in our first-ever girlfriends' get-together.

Usually we just see each other at shows and talk about music and guys there, but we'd decided to kick it up a notch.

It's different when you go out with the girls. You talk to your server about animal jewelry. You admire handcrafted pottery on the restaurant shelf.

You talk about men proposing on bended knee and men with manicured beards.

So, yes, our estrogen cup ranneth over.

Meanwhile, the one with every known allergy got a custom vegan/gluten-free dish created by the kitchen and the picky one declared her margherita pizza the best she'd ever had in Richmond.

Me, I was happy as a clam with a glass of Santa Julia Viognier and a dish of crispy pigs' feet with coconut, Thai chili, lime and cilantro.

The server warned me it was going to be hot (well duh, Thai chilies and all) and it was but the minced feet shaped into savory squares were tempered by the rich coconut broth.

We finished with a cream puff  to celebrate the rarity of getting these two females out of the house and into a restaurant.

Clearly opposites attract.

A favorite chef was dining with his wife and I took a moment to say hello, maneuvering my way to the restroom through an almost-capacity restaurant.

On my way in to Aziza's, I'd heard my name called, only to see a shop owner I knew nearby. He inquired if I would be at a certain gallery opening later tonight (I intended to be) before pointing to the new restaurant across the street.

"You ought to check it out," he said smiling. "It's very sixties, very cool. You'll like it."

Never let it be said that a new restaurant can't pull me across the street after dinner.

So with the girls amenable to a new experience, we walked directly across to check out 2113, Richmond's first restro-lounge.

Never let it be said that RVA won't eventually try a big city concept.

Earlier we'd noticed a photographer outside snapping red carpet photos of every one who entered.

He called to us as we arrived, saying he'd shoot us later, but my friend made short work of him.

"No, you won't," she clarified.

Inside, the owner shook my hand and welcomed us to his very groovy space.

White shades resembled snowflake cutouts, the metal bar had orange lights and that motif carried over to the long mirror on the nearby wall.

White lights and beats per minute were the order of the evening.

The girls and I found stools at the end of the bar and ordered as we took in the place.

My Lunetta Prosecco felt like the proper libation given the abundance of sequins and the photographer roaming the room snapping laughing guests mid-guffaw.

Favorite moment: telling the girls my deflowering story which resulted in two open-mouthed, dropped jaw expressions simultaneously.

"That's so awesome," the one in the pink dress said.

Awesome or telling, the events could probably be construed either way.

Checking out the menu, my friend asked me what caught my eye and, had I not just eaten, I'd have tried the wild boar sausage or the sauteed calves' liver.

But I had, so checking out the room's occupants held more interest.

First I saw a familiar braided server and said hello, surprising her with my presence.

When I turned to check out the front of the room, a wine rep I know waved hello and told me she liked my outfit.

Before long, one of my fellow food writers came over bringing a bowl of wild boar sausage farfalle pasta with roasted garlic, game stock, Roma tomatoes and mushrooms.

Just in case I wanted to try it (I did).

Soon a videographer I used to work with tapped me on the shoulder and introduced me to his friend ("If she's here, this is where we want to be," he told him).

And when we finally left the place, I ran into a restaurant owner ("Well of course you'd be here!") I know, the one who'd first taken me to Peter Chang's in Charlottesville.

"You know everybody," one of the girlfriends said with mock exasperation at the door.

Pshaw. Anyone who goes out a lot knows people in this town. It's just not that big.

When we got outside, there were still people having their pictures taken on the red carpet, but we kept our heads down and out of the camera's glare.

Bidding the girls goodnight, I got myself to Ghostprint Gallery for the opening of the new show, "Body of Evidence" by Chuck Scalin.

I knew plenty about the show because I'd written it up for "Style Weekly," but all my interaction with the artist had been via e-mail because he'd been in Paris until just recently.

I was late to the opening and they'd already been through 36 bottles of bubbly, but there was just enough left that I was handed a glass to enjoy while looking at the show.

Tonight I got to meet him and get an up-close look at his photographs and mixed media pieces.

Fifteen were "evidence boxes" comprised of photos, trinkets, letters and other ephemera, suggesting some long ago crime scene.

My favorite was the box with a very old matchbook ("Mayflower Cab, Phone 616") and vintage cards with numbers on them.

Another had the number 9 and nine black and white photos of faces. It carried a scrap of paper that said, "A Great Summer."

Other boxes included objects like old locks, letters with spidery handwriting and tiny medicine bottles and vials.

On the other wall, large scale photographs that were taken in the Palais de Tokyo Museum's basement showed light making its way through cracks in doors and crevices in walls.

The subtle shifts in the array of shades of black was just beautiful.

They had as much mystery as the boxes, only in a different way.

Interestingly enough, they looked like the kind of subterranean places that don't get cell phone service.

The kind of place from which you might send out the bat signal if you were looking for a missing girlfriend.

Although chances are, she'd be off talking to someone she knew and never even notice it up there in the sky.

And then they'd really give her a hard time. Probably over a cream puff, like tonight.

Because that's what girlfriends do.

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