Saturday, May 4, 2013

Socially Booming

I played the hand that was dealt me.

I called a friend but he had birthday dinner plans with a cousin from Haymarket.

I called another friend who didn't answer.

I gave up on friends and opted for the VMFA and whatever was happening there.

But, just to be safe, on the way to the museum I drove past my friend's house in case she was home.

Even better, she was walking out her door and into the street right in front of my car.

When I inquired where she was going, she said the market.

Get into my car, says I, ever the bossy oldest child. We're going to the museum.

To her credit, she did as told.

Once there, we had the pleasure of hearing New Orleans duo accordionist Matty Metcalfe and drummer Brian Caputo playing their hearts out in the atrium.

Nothing sounds like New Orleans music, that's for sure.

We couldn't linger too long because my friend had had  terribly stressful week, so we made our way to Best Cafe and scored a bottle of Las Lilas Vino Verde Rose, continuing my Portuguese streak this week.

The Friday deal of a price didn't hurt either.

Best Cafe was mobbed with a group wearing name tags and a card on one of the tables told us who they were: Social Boomers.

There are so many jokes I could make, but I'll refrain.

We found an unoccupied table, procured a cheese plate (although technically it was in a plastic clam shell box and not on a plate) and positioned ourselves facing the sunset.

The Las Lilas was lovely, intense, floral and fresh, and we got to talking as the bottle's pink contents dropped lower and lower.

When cloud cover suddenly obliterated the sun, the automatic shades on the cafe's windows automatically rolled up in reaction.

Immediately a guy now visible at a table on the deck waved, and we returned his greeting.

Enjoying our cheese selection, all at once the shades began rolling back down when the sun came back out.

I waved good-bye to our new friend and went back to the matter at hand, girl talk.

We eventually invited a couple of women milling about to join us at our table, feeling sorry for them as they carried trays of food in circles with no seating in sight.

A sister's got to help a sister out.

Once the sun had slipped behind the Pauley Center, our Las Lilas was gone and the cheese long consumed, we made our way upstairs to Amuse.

According to the bartender, they'd been mobbed all night and we'd arrived moments after things had emptied out.

When she heard how I'd found my friend in the most happenstance matter, she said, "That's awesome! That's the best reason ever to start an evening."

We were there to correct a gross inadequacy in my friend's museum-going, namely that she'd never drunk from the absinthe drip at Amuse.

As she would say, horrors!

Our attentive barkeep immediately set up two drips while we considered menu options.

Much as I was inclined toward the skate wing, she preferred the mussels, the fried oysters and the asparagus.

The P.E.I. mussels with Surry sausage, garlic, white wine and butter and Pecorino had grilled toast with which to sop up all that lovely broth.

The crispy Rappahannock curry-fried oysters over cucumber mint raita came garnished with pickled veggies.

Asparagus was roasted in oil and garlic with a sprinkling of cheese and was the first thing we devoured.

Because we were the only bar customers, the bartender had time to engage us in conversation about her latest obsession, the British monarchy.

She'd recently seen the film, "W.E." about the Duke of Windsor abdicating the throne for Wallis Simpson and it had ignited in her a passion for the full version of their love story.

When I inquired if she'd seen "The Kings' Speech," she said she had, but only very recently, and because she'd first seen "W.E."

We recommended to her "A Royal Affair," a movie about the Danish monarchy with romance busting out at every turn.

That led to the best discussion of the night.

She admitted that she secretly harbored a hope that a man would meet her and want to draw or paint her ("So "Titanic!"), a fantasy both my friend and I held.

Our little trio concurred that no greater compliment could be imagined than a man so enamored of us that he wanted to capture us artistically, faults and all.

No doubt the absinthe had a hand in our daydreams of being the muse to someone's artistic bent.

By the time we'd finished our supper, the dining room was down to three tables, so we knew the museum had closed and it was time to move on.

Despite a myriad of options for culture, we wound up back at her very French-looking apartment with a bottle of Le Ferme Julien Rose and Pandora set to the Arcade Fire station.

Her two little dogs heard us chattering and began causing a racket, at which point she threw up her hands and said to me, "You rescue a dog from death and they think they own you!"

I almost rolled off the couch laughing.

We passed the rest of the evening talking about research and word use, marriage and youth, milk and dark chocolate, all the while sipping Rose and agreeing with each other about everything.

Had I driven down her block one minute earlier or later, my evening would have unfolded in a very different manner.

Sometimes it's all about the luck of the draw.

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