Saturday, July 28, 2012

My Weekend Opening Ceremonies

If I should have been home watching the Olympics, no one told me that.

So naturally I wasn't spending my Friday night in front of the TV (not that I have one).

Scene 1, in which I watch the chaos that is preparation for a bridal dinner party at 27.

The mother of the groom arrives less than an hour before the dinner with sixty little boxes of chocolates inscribed with the happy couple's name and instructs the staff how and where they are to be placed.

Good luck with a mother-in-law like that, honey.

Meanwhile a friend of the sous chef stops by, making a hell of a fashion statement.

"Anyone ever tell you that you look like an extra from Mad Max?" he is asked to make a point.

Taking it as a compliment, the guy responds, "No, no one, but that's awesome!"

Moral: be careful who you insult obliquely for they may hear a compliment.

Scene 2, in which we take shelter from the storm.

With a fierce-looking storm about to break overhead, we scuttled up to Amuse for their panoramic window views.

Dark clouds loomed, fading sun outlined the windblown trees and rain fell without us even noticing.

The balcony was understandably closed and the bar was three deep. Half of RVA, it seemed, was at Amuse.

We established a beach head at the far end next to the absinthe drip (foreshadowing) and ordered a bottle of Urban Uco Torrontes.

I promised the Viognier lover that it would deliver a floral nose, a hint of sweetness and a refreshing finish and did it ever.

Friends who are leaving for Las Vegas Sunday joined us for spirited discussion of the virtues of Neil Young ("Why doesn't he do Canadicana instead of Americana?"), how the Byrds went country and the eternal question, Rubber Soul or Revolver.

Noshing selection was left to me and I chose rabbit pate with apricot, dill pickle slices and pickled turnip on crostini.

Even he who hadn't had rabbit or turnips was impressed with the earthy pate.

We'd come to say farewell to a friend and favorite bartender who eventually joined us on the fun side of the bar.

Absinthe drips were prepared, arriving unusually dark green, a sure sign that a generous drip had been poured.

There really is nothing like the feel of absinthe as the green fairy winds its way through your veins.

Before long, texts were arriving demanding to know why I wasn't at my next stop so we break camp for new adventures, the bartender and I.

Scene 3, in which we did not sample Shockoe.

The bartender and I drove down to the Bottom to meet a friend at 2113 and between it being a restro-lounge and tonight being part of Sample Shockoe, we expect a Friday night mob scene.

Instead, it is seven people at a bar and dance music pumping loudly.

Our waiting friend glares at me for my tardiness and I order a Don Julio.

Nearby, a trio is discussing ex-wives although they don't look like the ex-wives types. But then, who does?

We talk about the local dining scene until we decide we want some food and exit stage right.

Scene 4, in which we discuss religion on a deserted street.

Arriving in Carytown, we head to Don't Look Back, where I run into a bast from my past.

He sits down next to me with an enormous grin on his face, clearly surprised to see me there.

When I meet his girlfriend, she is full of compliments and already knows things about me.

Moments later, one in our group gives DLB the thumbs down (the bass is loud and thumping) and we proceed up Cary Street.

It's not that late and yet nothing much is open. But the heat is absent and the night feels cool and lovely.

We pass a couple where he is telling her about how awesome the food at the Eatery is and the three of us laugh over the dirty grease smell that defines the Eatery.

Nearly at the end of Carytown, we finally stop at Doner Kebab when we see the vertical spits with meat on them.

It was as if a chorus of angels suddenly began singing hallelujah.

Inside the brightly-lit and tiny restaurant, we order two shawarmas: one chicken, one beef/lamb, both on fresh pita bread with creamy yogurt sauce.

We take the food outside to a table to ravage it.

I taste the intensely-flavored chicken variety my bartender friend has ordered and am an immediate Doner devotee.

The patient one and I share the overstuffed beef/lamb shawarmas, with me handing it back to him with lipstick on it.

It's a good friend who will eat your lipstick prints.

Once our Turkish fast food has hit our stomachs, we all feel full of life again and conversation ensues.

As a group of women in head scarves ate nearby and couples came and went with food, we inexplicably found ourselves knee-deep in a discussion of Catholicism versus Protestantism.

Organized religion versus individual spirituality.

Literal bible reading versus interpretation.

As a card-carrying heathen at a table with a Christian-raised man who's done missionary work and an Indian-born man who labels himself neither an atheist nor an agnostic, but with a profound doubt about a higher being, it was fascinating.

Fortunately for us, Doner is open until 3 a.m. so we sat there in the light of the spit trying to unravel life's mysteries until about 2:15.

Scene 5, in which I hugged a friend not knowing when I will see him again

I knew once we left I had to drop off my departing friend and say one last goodbye. He moves halfway across the country in a week.

But if ever there was a satisfying final night with a friend, this had been it.

Hmm, I wonder how things went with the Olympics.

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