Friday, May 23, 2014

So Bohemian Like You

There's something about Geminis.

I'm one (and a pretty classic one at that) and many of the people closest to me are as well. That means that for the next little while, I'll be celebrating with them while they celebrate with me.

Tonight's quartet was 3/4 Gemini with one non, meaning we had seven personalities at the table. It can be a lot when you put so many multiple personalities together.

Our dinner party got started at Amuse just after that hailstorm that surely caught everyone off guard, littering the streets with so many leaves that in places they looked solid green.

But things were calm and collected at the museum as we were led to a table overlooking the reflecting pool and sculpture garden.

Celebratory drinks were in order - mine was Montand sparkling brut Rose- as we toasted the birthday boys and girls in the now sunny dining room. To each his own, but nothing says "I'm special" to me like bubbles.

The storm was the topic of the moment with one in our group having already lost power due to a fallen tree in his backyard. I was teased because my lack of a cell phone meant I hadn't received the dire "Take shelter" text that the three of them had to warn them of impending doom.

No, I figured it out the old-school way, by closing the windows and staying inside once hail began pinging off my tin roof and the wind became louder than the music I was playing.

Call me old fashioned.

I started my meal with a salad of local greens, pickled radish, goat cheese, spicy candied pecans and fig vinaigrette as we watched the sun give way to clouds and another bout of torrential rain begin.

At first we thought the hail was back but it turned out to be nothing more than gigantic raindrops, almost causing waves in the reflecting pool.

There was lots to catch up on - a possible new love that had been keeping the writer from working on his book, the theater in one Gemini's background that her mate didn't know about, the non-Gemini who'd blown his mates' minds by introducing them to spring mix instead of iceberg lettuce- and before long, we were the loudest table at Amuse.

A dubious honor, at best. YOLO- you only live once- became the rallying cry of the night.

Things settled down a bit as I ate mussels for the second day in a row, these with Surry sausage and Pecorino, and noticed all the familiar faces in the dining room.

With the film director I'd met at Bistro Bobette, the curator I'd interviewed about pop art, the yoga master recently returned from Mexico, the multi-media artist whose new show I'd just seen last night, the dining room was quickly filling up.

Our server offered us dessert, but we had plans elsewhere for that (if there's one thing Geminis require on their birthday, it's sweets), so we decided instead on after dinner drinks and before long, the absinthe drip was brought to our table so I could have a birthday eve visit from the green fairy.

The gentleman at the next table looked on curiously, eventually compelled to ask what it was and I was only too happy to explain about the drip's arrival back when the museum was lousy with Picassos and we were celebrating all things bohemian.

Not sure I made a convert of him, but I at least got him thinking about absinthe for the first time in his life.

Once everyone else had their post-meal bevvies of choice, we toasted each other as the adaptable, enthusiastic and eloquent people Geminis are known to be, ignoring what a pain our dual natures can be.

Next stop: Shyndigz for birthday cake.

We only had to wait a few minutes before being led to a booth but the place was already crazy busy for a Thursday evening.

When our gregarious server (a Gemini maybe?) told us about one of the cakes of the day, a black raspberry chocolate cake with whipped cream filling and chocolate icing, I knew I'd found my slice of heaven.

Others chose the s'mores pie for its warm, ooey-gooey goodness recalling Girl Scout camping trips of our youth and pushing me right over the edge after one bite.

Stick a fork in me, I was done.

Well, finished eating and drinking, but certainly not done for the evening, so I bade farewell to the Gemini contingent after birthday cards were exchanged and left to meet a friend for a movie.

We'd been trying for the better part of a week and a half to see the new John Turturro/Woody Allen movie, "Fading Gigolo" at the Criterion.

Coincidentally, the last time I'd been at Shyndigz, I'd run into a friend who'd heard a segment on NPR about the fabulous soundtrack to the movie and been so impressed with what she'd heard that she rushed out to order the CD.

One more reason I didn't want this movie to leave town without me seeing it first.

My friend was waiting for me in the lobby and with her popcorn in hand, we became the second and third people in the theater. Clearly not a big night for gigolos.

But my girlfriend and I are both Turturro fans and I've been a Woody Allen devotee since high school, so we already knew there was plenty for us in a script written by Turturro and finessed by Allen.

And the score! From the opening scenes set to jazz, the music was as fabulous (and often foreign) as my friend had told me.

But mostly it was the charm of seeing Woody Allen play pimp in his low-key comedic way to Turturro's middle-aged florist turned reluctant gigolo that captured me and made for such a charming story.

"A man needs to be funny," a woman tells her girlfriend, a fact any woman could affirm.

"A woman is meant to be looked at, else she'll just fade away," another tells the gigolo as she poses fetchingly for him.

Like an Allen film, the story is a postcard to NYC, in this case Brooklyn, and to jazz music, apparently also a favorite of Turturro's as well as Allen's.

There are probably women who can't imagine one as unconventional looking as Turturro as a for-hire gigolo, but I had no problem at all seeing why women wanted to sleep with him and pay for the privilege. Plus he brings them artistically arranged flowers, always a bonus.

What Gemini wouldn't savor a sweet, little movie about the nuances of love and intimacy to round out her evening?

YOLO, no matter how many personalities you have.

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