I got my passport stamped in the east end for the fourth time in three days.
Admittedly my day got off to a late start - noon - given that Pru and I had closed down Cullen's Cove last night.
But after a hearty breakfast, a walk and a workout, I was ready for some holiday weekend action. Since a solo cookout seemed pathetic, I decided to make tracks for the Lilly Pad at Osborne boat landing.
It was the ideal distance for a mini road trip with Matt Kearney's "City of Black and White" blasting and the seductive scent of masses of honeysuckle rushing in the open car windows. I passed two little girls with a lemonade stand set up in the median, along with lots of people cutting grass and doing yard work.
The boat landing was buzzing with cars, trailers and boats so I swung around all that and parked by the Lilly Pad where both the double-sided glider tables were in use (no surprise, who would sit at an ordinary table and chairs if a glider table was free?), although one had a sole occupant on it.
Debating whether to ask to join a stranger, I didn't and ordered a barbecued shrimp with bacon and Ranch pita pocket and found a shady table to wait for it.
The river was a popular place today with every kind of boat and lots of jet skis fighting for water space. The piers were lined with fishermen, children being taught the basics and even one guy throwing out nets.
I was pulled out of my water reverie when the guy sitting alone at the glider got up and went inside the cafe. Was he abandoning the glider? Could I snake him while he was inside? What was the etiquette here?
Before I could make my move, a woman came out of the cafe and, beer and cigarette in hand, made a bee line for the glider.
Now look who had been snaked.
Unable to resist, I called out to her that I was just going to grab that glider and she shouted back, "Come on over then."
I sat down across from her and instinctively, we both pushed off at the same moment so the glider began its rhythmic rocking. "Everyone needs one of these in their yard," she pronounced with no argument from me.
And that's how I met Doc, nee Deidre (the name came from the other woman in her mother's hospital room who'd planned to name her baby Deidre until she'd had a boy) and tired of the over-popular at the time nickname DeeDee.
Doc was deeply tanned, skinny and taut because she does construction and gardening work for a living and lives in Carytown with a country house in Dinwiddie.
The first thing she explained to me was that she'd be turning 50 in August and was having her celebration at the Lilly Pad with two bands playing: Nitro and Rough Stuff.
"This is going to be my seat for the party," she said, patting the glider on which she sat. "I'll have my Jello shots right here next to me and the waitress can bring me my beers."
You have to admire a woman with a plan and Doc certainly had one.
I told her my birthday had been yesterday and she cheerfully wished me a happy one. She explained that she liked to stretch her birthdays out for a month, meaning we are kindred souls when it comes to birthdays.
Five minutes later, one of the guys at a nearby table coming back from the cafe with a beer called out happy birthday to me. The Lilly Pad is nothing if not a communal space.
My sandwich arrived with a paltry amount of chips on the plate and the server apologized, saying she'd spilled the plate on the way out but that she'd bring me more chips (a bag was shortly delivered), essential for the proper sandwich to chip ratio. Good girl.
On the plate were two wooden skewers, each with seven barbecued shrimp and two pita halves stuffed with bacon, lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing. I wasted no time in removing the shrimp form the skewers ("They could have taken the tails off," Doc sniffed, but I didn't mind) and stuffing them into the pita halves.
When I mentioned that I hadn't expected bacon, Doc said that it was the smell of cooking bacon that had caused the glider's former occupant to come into the cafe and order a BLT.
I was more brilliant than I knew. My order had not only resulted in a fat and tasty lunch, but delivered the seat I'd been coveting.
As I ate, a couple of boats came up into the boat slip area next to where we were sitting. One was a tiny john boat with a father and young son, a very sweet sight and probably a memory in the making for the toddler and the other was even better.
A canoe had been painted to look like a shark, then outfitted with two flotation devices painted to look like jumping sharks and powered by three colorful sails and a small trolling motor. Someone was not only creative but had a sense of humor.
Before long, Doc headed into the cafe for beer, returning with a yellow, plastic beach bucket filled with ice and Budweisers.
I'd already heard the six top next to us go inside for the same, one guy inquiring of the table first, "We want Bud Heavies, right?"
Doc and I got to blathering and all of a sudden, she commented on the lack of music. I agreed that the music playing inside should have been piped outside, but wasn't.
It didn't matter because Doc pulled her iPhone out of its waistband holster, holding it up and crying, "I've got three Pandora stations!"
Sam Cooke, Joe Bonamassa and classic blues guitarists were the options. In another situation, there were many things I might have said, but I held my tongue. She played one Sam Cooke song and then moved right into Clapton.
That was my signal to ask about her first concert and her story was a doozy.
"Did you ever see Streisand's 'A Star is Born'?" she asked as prelude. Of course I had. "My first concert was Peter Frampton and it was the show they filmed for the scene in 'A Star is Born' where Kris Kristofferson drives his motorcycle off the stage. First we got to see Frampton and then they told us if we stayed, we'd be the extras in a movie so we all stayed."
Naturally, that led to a discussion of how handsome, smart and talented Kristofferson is/was, at least to women of a certain age.
Considering we were strangers, the conversation was far-reaching as she puffed through her pack of Marlboro Golds and downed Buds.
Doc showed me pictures of her one-acre garden in Dinwiddie from last summer, a lush bed of corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers and god knows what else. I saw a shot of the magnificent salt water pool they put in the backyard, agreeing with her disdain for the chemical usage required for fresh water pools.
When the subject of duct tape came up, she referred to it as "love tape." That was one conversational tangent I did not take with Doc.
But over the next few hours we covered such things as the use of credit cards, feminism, sisters (I trumped her two with my five but she has a twin, so she ultimately beat me) and her spirited 74 year old mother who had double knee replacement at the same time and was back doing yoga in a month.
But her favorite story about her Mom involved a trip to Italy where Mom and her sister planned to take a Vespa sightseeing tour. Only problem was you had to take a class and test first. Sis passed no problem, being a motorcycle owner.
Mom, however, didn't. Doc was suspicious because that left Mom to ride on the back of the Vespa of the young, handsome Italian tour guide. "I think she was brilliant!" Doc laughed, cigarette in hand.
We even exchanged work around tips. When she'd pulled out her phone for music, she'd lamented not having her blue tooth speaker and I'd told her how to use a metal bowl for amplification when nothing else was available. "Like my mixing bowl!" she'd squealed with glee.
She shared that she often gets sun spots from so much working outside and her dermatologist had recommended the dandruff shampoo Selsun Blue to remove them. "You just rub it in every day for a few weeks and they blend right in," she said. "Look!" and showed me her nut brown shoulder with no visible sun spots.
Eventually her man and their dog (whom they both referred to as each other's daughter) arrived and joined us, sharing stories about boating parties, helping to build the Lilly Pad and their biker friends, one of whom had introduced them to Blue Ray.
As if on cue, one of those biker friends showed up and joined us on the glider as we all chatted about Nick's Seafood in Yorktown and the antics of VCU students in their neighborhood (a tree limb covered sofa placed in the middle of the street at 5 a.m.) and mine (parties that start at 1 and end at 6 a.m.) until I realized that I probably needed to get going.
"Already?" Doc asked despite the nearly three hours we'd been gliding and chatting. "Keep on enjoying your birthday month!"
Even without Jello shots at my side, Doc, that's a pretty safe bet.