Just to be clear, I have nothing at all against being happy.
After a long, busy day helping a favorite Fan resident thrift and decorate her guest room, I came home to learn that my planned cultural partner was bowing out.
Quick! Who do you call when it's 45 minutes to curtain call?
I caught her as she was about to make coq au vin and lured her away with the promise of theater.
Some nerds are so easy.
This afternoon I'd scored an adorable high-waisted floral skirt while thrifting and put that on to set the tone for Saturday night.
During a stop at Kroger on my way to pick her up, I got a double-take from a girl as I breezed through the produce section.
"Were you in Diversity Thrift today?" she asked, pointing at me and my skirt.
Were you behind the counter at Diversity, I inquired.
"Skirt looks good!" she enthused with a nod.
Every Saturday night should start with a compliment.
A few minutes later when my arms were full of unwieldy fruit, I heard a voice behind me.
It was a Kroger employee, helpfully bringing me a basket. "Here you go!" the guy said.
In all my bazillion trips to Kroger, I can't remember anyone ever noticing my hands were full and bringing me a basket.
Score 2 for the skirt.
My skirt and I went to fetch my girlfriend and head to Centenary United Methodist Church on Grace Street where Henley Street and African American Repertory Theater were doing a staged reading of "Sunset Limited."
I knew nothing about the play except that it was the winner of the National Book Award and National Book Critics' Circle Award.
Well, and that the Sunset Limited was a train that went between New Orleans and Los Angeles
It would have been enough but upon arrival, I also learned that they had cookies, lots of cookies.
Saturday night's alright for munching.
We found second row seats and settled in a for a play about two people who only met because one was ready to die.
"If it ain't got the lingering scent of divinity, I ain't interested," said the devout one.
"People stopped believing in books, music and art," bemoaned the atheist one.
The set was simple and perfect: a wooden table and two chairs, framed by perpendicular pews with stained glass windows above.
"What do you have against being happy?" asked the believer.
"It's contrary to the human condition," shot back the non-believer.
Despite being a reading, the actors moved about quite a bit and railed at each other with periodic glances down at the scripts in hand.
Although they couldn't have had much time for rehearsals, actors Daniel Moore and DL Hopkins kept up the intensity of the philosophical discussion that made up the play.
I was especially taken by how the play began, with compelling, full-on confrontational discussion going on with the audience completely unaware of what had brought us to this moment.
The intellectual pull of trying to figure out what had happened prior was very seductive.
As a card-carrying heathen, I related on many levels to the character who had no use for religion, although I don't think a lack of belief necessarily sends one into a downward spiral that ends in suicidal thoughts.
It was much harder for me to relate to the evangelical character, except in his devotion to saving the other man from himself.
"Sometimes people don't know what they want 'till they get it," he wisely says.
Amen, says I.
In lieu of staying for the talkback, Friend and I headed across the street to Pasture to have our own dissection of the play and enjoy some refreshment.
We barely made it to the back of the bar in search of seats before running into some favorite Amuse staffers, who helpfully told us about tonight's special on Spanish bubbles before giving my cute skirt its due.
Then they departed for Brown's Island to hear Toots and the Maytals and dance to reggae, while we finally had a shot at some bar stools.
Before I could sit down, I ran into a restaurant owner, all dressed up pretty and uncharacteristically out on a Saturday night, sharing a drink with a cheese monger and her bearded hubby.
Lots of people were coming in from the "Single in the City Bachelor/Bachelorette Auction" at CenterStage, never an option for me because of its cost (not that it's not a worthy cause).
There was talk of new restaurants - Dynamo, the Well- before I made it to our seats and the possibility of a light meal.
Muscanti Cava and Frito pie more than did the trick for me, especially after a first course of cookies at the play, while my lovely companion did Cava with pork and Chorizo meatballs the size of, well, big.
And flavorful, just for the record, especially with grits underneath.
During our talkback with each other about the points raised in the play, we decided our heathen credentials were in danger of being revoked because we don't feel the despair typically required of black souls like us.
How can we go through the world so damn happy when we should, in theory, be wringing our hands about the hopelessness of it all?
I can't answer for my friend, but personally, all it takes to keep me satisfied is the occasional $3.25 cute flowered skirt, a thought-provoking play and good conversation.
Like the evangelical pointed out, sometimes people don't know what they want till they get it.
Sounds pretty hopeful to me.