"It took a woman to show us the light." ~Teenage Mother
What sentiment could more perfectly sum up Mother's Day than that?
After a drive to the Northern Neck to pay homage to my own maternal ancestry (sign on insurance company: "Farmers, please report corn acres planted," and sign on gas station: "Happy Momz Day!"), it was time to let the Mother's Day festivities begin.
To ensure mixing with as diverse crowds as possible tonight, first there was a picnic at Agecroft with music by the Richmond Concert Band.
It unfolded under an enormous magnolia tree and with a straight-shot view of the conductor, a bottle of Chianti and way too much food.
This year's theme was "Virginia Connections" and featured the works of, yep, Virginians.
An outdoor concert sounds so different than an indoor one, with the sound having endless space to move around in.
Acoustically, I know it's inferior but that's balanced by the pleasures of a picnic with live symphonic music.
After the performance and a stroll of the grounds, it was on to Firehouse Theater for mockery.
Film Roasters was doing their monthly screening of a truly bad movie with Mystery Science Theatre-like commentary from a trio of wise asses.
The cinematic gem we saw was "Teenage Mother" from 1967 which featured the Young Set (complete with jerky go-go dancer, mocked by one of the improv guys as, "Some bronzer and a lampshade and she's good to go") and the star's wardrobe supplied by Betsy Johnson Paraphernalia.
I know my fashion history; Betsy Johnson was the mod designer in the sixties. Her clothes made guys say things like, "I want that chick. She's stacked."
The movie told the story of a sex education teacher from Sweden trying to enlighten an American high school to much resistance.
Translation: between the dated dialog and endless riffing on it, I was laughing pretty much non-stop.
"Health education being taught by a woman? That's something new!" In 1967, I'm sure it was.
As we laughed along to lines about a teenager's $10 allowance and going to a drive-in to see "Girl on a Chain Gang," we never saw it coming.
"It" was the sex ed teacher's last defense to save her job when the parents got mad at her unorthodox subject matter.
She shut them right up by showing a film of a baby being born using forceps.
That's right, in the middle of this corny 1967 movie with every cliche in the world about teenagers, smoking pot and pre-marital sex, we saw an actual clip of a baby being delivered.
With, I might add, a voice over explaining the placement of the forceps and the accompanying issues.
We saw the baby's head and shoulders come out. Um, happy Mother's Day?
Let's just say that the room got unspeakably quiet as the audience tried to process what was surely most people's first actual birth footage.
When the lights came up, we were instructed, "That's it, you can go home and think about that now."
I'm guessing most people did the opposite and tried to block it out for the rest of their evening.
I thought a better solution was to head over to Richmond Triangle Players for the Ghostlight Afterparty, essentially a piano bar where all the singers are actors.
Afterbirth, afterparty, I always say.
The five hour party was underway when we arrived and the first song we caught was a fine one, "My Funny Valentine" by Carla.
With my J-Ward neighbors a few rows behind, the 'hood was representing.
The superb accompanist Sandy, this time on a grand piano instead of last month's keyboard, did harmony for her daughter's rendition of Carole King's "Where You Lead" in honor of the holiday.
Host Matt kept the show rolling with jokes, tambourine playing and his excellent singing voice.
Walking across the stage at one point, he noticed a stool with a cocktail on it and cracked up.
"That's what I love about Ghostlight Afterparty," he said with no clear idea whose drink it was since no one was onstage then.
Jason did a stellar version of "If I Loved You" after talking about his talented musical mother and why he'd turned out the way he had.
Tonight's guest star was Lisa who set the tone by proclaiming that every time she mentioned her adored 11-year old son Jamie, everyone in the room was required to drink.
A deceptively simple rule and yet one with comic results as the night wore on.
She did a "Mad Lib" version of "A Spoonful of Sugar," singing off a Mad Libs sheet of nonsense words.
Because they're actors, the hamming never stops, like when one guy paused mid-song and said, "Dramatic cross" and moved from center stage to the piano for his big finale.
Of course I saw a couple of my favorite boys, in particular Princess Di (blue pants, pink shirt) and the theater critic (on a date), both pleased as punch to see a friend.
B.C. did a terrific version of "When You're Good to Mama," while Matt shook his booty against the tambourine and Maggie danced across the back of the stage.
Afterwards, Matt noted dryly, "B.C. sings songs in women's registers better than most women do."
And that is why we come to the Ghostlight Afterparty.
Around 11:30 the pizza arrived and the hungry audience took a break and descended on it.
Susan killed it with her rendition of "The Man That Got Away" and a duet of "Suddenly Seymour" had half the room singing along.
Pianist Sandy and Audra wowed the crowd with "Just a Housewife" before we got to the last song of the night.
According to the non-actor, non-singer who took the stage, she was a straight white girl rapping like a straight black man about, you know, having what you need.
It was at that point that Princess Di turned to me and sniffed, "There's fifteen men singing along to this in the back row."
Indeed they were and having a grand old time.
And wherever their mothers were, I'm sure they'd have been very proud of them.
Cause especially on Mother's Day, it takes a woman to, well, do it all.
See the light?