I officially rang in birthday season tonight.
Because I will not see my Paris-bound friend before my birthday next week, we met tonight to kick off the festivities.
Rowland offered sun streaming through the front windows and happy hour deals of the liquid and edible varieties.
Sitting directly behind us was an eight-top, a family birthday celebration complete with multiple generations and be-ribboned gifts.
Despite the pretense of ours being a birthday celebration, it was really a class A catch-up session.
She began with a jaw-dropping story of a girl crying wolf and the unexpected and potentially awful ramifications of her bad call.
Food-wise we had to order their signature butter bean cake along with another special, essentially a panko-crusted pork schnitzel with an oozing farm egg on top, a tomato Hollandaise and an arugula salad.
Pig with egg? Come on, that's as good as breakfast. Yum.
I heard about the dream screened-in porch she intends to have built and as an ardent fan of outdoor rooms, I envy her the future pleasures of it.
It's with fond memories I recall the one I had for thirteen years when I lived on Floyd Avenue; sadly, it's the one thing I don't have in Jackson Ward.
And hers is going to have a sleeping couch on it, the ultimate porch indulgence.
With nothing to top that, I told her about some of my recent escapades and she told me about an hilarious trip to a Charleston wedding.
And a dry wedding at that, necessitating her bringing a flask.
I loved the part where a guest asked her if she was a model and, true to her quick wit (and the truth), she quipped, "Only nude," a nod to her college days modeling for a drawing class.
That shut 'em up.
We finished with a chocolate cupcake that was more of a molten cake with a dollop of caramel to push it over the edge.
By then she had to leave to get home to hearth and husband and probably weeding in her splendid gardens.
My next stop was a cocktail/listening/birthday party at Balliceaux for a dear friend.
Playing on the screen behind the stage was a 1929 German silent film, "Pandora's Box."
And really, German is so guttural a language, it's really a prime contender for silent film.
He's a musician with a wide range and I'm always eager to hear what his latest direction is.
But we also talk about life with a capital "L" so shortly after our greeting, he put his hands on my shoulder, looked in my eyes and said, "I met a girl."
This was very good news indeed because he's such a terrific, interesting guy and his last girlfriend was a cereal-stealing alcoholic.
And, as I told him, no one should have to lock up their cereal.
But then he was off to play host and mingle until it was time for the debut of his new song.
I knew a few people at the party, said my hellos and then sat down at a table in the center.
A friend and former soul mate came over to chat, looking exceptionally dapper in a seersucker jacket and bow tie.
Bragging that he'd not only tied it himself but had an extra in his jacket pocket ("Gentlemen always carry an extra just in case"), I challenged him to teach me to tie it using my leg.
Despite several attempts, my lower thigh was never adorned with a bow, nor was my neck, the second location he tried.
You have to appreciate a party where someone tries to tie a bow tie on your leg.
Out of the blue, a girl standing near me said to me, "I work in a gun shop."
It was such a surprising way to start a conversation that I couldn't help but be sucked in.
What did I glean?
She makes $9 an hour, she'd never shot a gun before they hired her, they made her take a gun class and it's the largest shooting range in the country.
Oh, yes, and she's learned to keep her mouth shut when surrounded by Second Amendment-spouting customers.
There was a face painter there and my bow-tied friend came back with a disturbing clown face painted on.
After complimenting what a good job the painter had done, I said he needed to see himself in a mirror.
But the bar's bathroom doesn't have a real mirror, causing him to joke, "They don't need mirrors here because if you're at Balliceaux, you must look good."
Someone else postulated that it wasn't only good-looking people who came to Balliceaux, but that once you crossed its threshold, you were in another dimension that made you attractive.
I wasn't buying either theory but his clown face looked damn good.
Finally the birthday boy got up to announce his new song, "We Are Foxes," but it took the crowd a while to stop mingling and listen.
Someone called out for him to talk louder over the hubbub, to which he responded, "I'm trying to talk loud but I have small lungs."
And, no that wasn't a metaphor.
Unfortunately, he told the crowd that it wasn't like the Listening Room so they could talk over his song, and they took him up on that.
I liked what I heard and I'm looking forward to hearing it when people aren't chattering.
Man-about-town Prabir was there with sampler CDs of the new album he's working on.
While it wasn't the whole album, it did come with a sheet inside the CD case with a listing of how to say "breakfast" in every language.
I may have pointed out that he has too much time on his hands.
We got off on a tangent about how proudly weird Richmond is (he put caricature-drawing on a Wednesday night at a bar in that category), an element that seems to have become part of our citywide identification.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Lauren, the caricature artist, was doing impressively good drawings of anyone willing to sit for a few minutes.
I saw one of my music buddy Andrew on the wall, looking exactly like him, only with a much bigger head.
Nearby talking to a girl was a guy whose hair was pure Rick Astley, causing the funny guy near me eating meringues with fresh cream and fruit to jest, "He's never gonna give you up, honey."
Maybe you had to be there (circa 1987) but I found that hilarious.
But the final treat was a song from Capital Opera Richmond singer Sarah.
We'd been promised ponies, too, but I was more than happy with a new song, a bunch of friends and a classic bit of opera.
Or, as the invitation stated, "All this and the possibility that you'll get some if you kiss good."
I hate to sound like the voice of experience here, but there's always the possibility that you'll get some if you kiss good.
True story, kids.