Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Sometimes a week gets off to a slow start and all my looking for something to do yields nada.

Fortuitously, there are always the old Monday standbys, Stuzzi and RVA Big Band.

Because they're so reliably there to kick off the week, Monday in and Monday out, it's easy to take them for granted, like a dogged but annoying always freind when you're bored.

But after spending indiscriminately all weekend, there's a lot of appeal to a $2 margarita pizza.

Another thrifty type and I arrived late in the game to find only two seats free at the bar and Katherine Hepburn in "Summertime" playing on the screens.

The scenes of Venice in 1955 were fascinating, with far fewer tourists and far fewer signs of modernity.

Once our pizzas were ordered, we fell into conversation with a nearby man, who'd apparently had enough wine to open up about his love life.

He told us about the three women he's currently seeing, explaining that each one fulfilled a different need in him.

Specifically, he mentioned how important sexual chemistry was and why it sometimes necessitates a partner just for that.

"She's like a goomah," one of the three Italians said, with another chiming in, "Like a mistress."

I said it sounded like a booty call to me, someone you just wanted to have sex with.

Suddenly the woman sitting behind us, who'd introduced us to her Italian boyfriend earlier, spun around in her stool, grinning.

"It sounds like an ex-girlfriend," she said, making the international symbol for texting.

All at once is was a free-for-all on the laws of attraction and mating in general, especially at middle age.

The woman told us how in high school, she lived with her Dad, with him on the third floor and her on the first.

"That way, I couldn't ask him who's car was parked in front of the house because I really didn't want to know," she confessed.

That must have made for some enlightening teen years.

Pizza and wine gone, we wanted a sweet finish to the meal, ordering the Italian doughnuts, excuse me, zeppole with Nutella/mascarpone.

The cinnamon sugar on the outside gave way to a dense interior, a bit heavier than it probably should have been, but still quite tasty.

One by one the others got going, the one couple inciting jealousy in the rest of us when they said they were leaving for five weeks in Italy tomorrow.


Five weeks! She looked positively giddy at the prospect, while for him, it was just going home to Mama in Piedmonte.

We left soon after to go to Balliceaux and hear the RVA Big Band for the first time in ages.

They were swinging hard when we walked in and found seats on the back banquette with a clear view of the 17 musicians.

The beauty of the RVA Big Band is simple moments, like when the drummer takes off on an extended solo, giving the bass player time to grab his PBR and take a couple of long pulls on it before anything further is expected of him.

We were late, so their set ended not long after, giving me time to say hello to some of my favorite people, friends I hadn't expected to see there tonight.

One was celebrating her birthday, happily loopy and looking radiant in a long, blue dress.

Her best line: "Yea, but I'm a lazy hippie."

Yea, but aren't we all?

When one of the trumpet players came down to talk to the couple next to me, I couldn't help but overhear him tell them about how the band practices.

"There's not exactly practice," he admitted. "We get a list of the music we're going to play the day before and that's how we know what to practice."

The couple looked surprised and I felt the same, although I have to assume that at a certain level of musicianship, if you all know your parts, it's bound to come together.

And it did so most sublimely on Johnny Mercer's "Skylark," a song that had me imagining a man smoking at a window, looking out on the nighttime urban skyline and thinking of a woman.

Since I didn't recognize it, I turned to the guy sitting next to me (because he looked like a musician) and asked what it was.

He not only told me the name and composer, but that its lyrics reflected Mercer's longing for Judy Garland, with whom he'd had an affair.

So here we were back to unavoidable sexual chemistry and longing for a woman you can't have.

Just another reliably good Monday night in the city.

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