Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Seduced by a Breeze

It's always a challenge settling back in after vacation.

Oh, I don't mean the conscious un-vacationing part - the loads of laundry, the putting away of beach gear, the housecleaning to restore some order, the grocery shopping - I mean the adaptation to life back in the city after a week of endless reading and napping, the soothing sound of the ocean, of all leisure all the time.

Sound of brakes screeching.

That meant after a full day attending to the minutiae of life, there was no walking on the beach or sitting on the porch swing transfixed by the surf to cap it off.

Come on, Karen, make lemonade out of lemons here.

So what didn't I have at the beach? A good foreign film (and, yes, Canada counts), that was it, so it was off to the Westhampton Theater I went to see "The Grand Seduction." Me and six other people, so it wasn't a big crowd needing to be seduced.

Set in a former fishing village in Newfoundland, the sweet story of a harbor community trying to woo a young doctor to their remote location so they can qualify to have a much-needed factory built and provide jobs for the town's out of work former fishermen, unfolded gently and engagingly.

How the town seduces him is the funny part - tapping his phone to learn about his passion for jazz, his dead father and favorite food (which the town restaurant then duplicates) - and even leaving money around for him to happen upon because "finding money makes people happy."

It's true. While I was in the ocean last week, I looked up to see a $10 bill floating by and nabbed it, feeling inordinately pleased with my find. The good doctor was no different.

One of the funniest lines came when the doctor shows up at the home of the town's eligible, young postmistress. "I've been drinking," he says.

"Just what every girl wants to hear when she opens her door to a man at night," she deadpans before closing the door in his face.

My kind of humor.

The movie was charming, chock full of stunning island landscapes with a cast of wonderfully oddball characters such as you'd expect in such a remote location, a gentle reminder that seduction isn't always about sex.

Not that there's anything wrong with seduction when it is about sex.

Not ready to go home after the movie, I went instead to Balliceaux for the RVA Big Band, immediately running into a bartender friend, who, like me, was wondering how our mutual friends seem to be on vacation every other week (currently they're in Aruba).

In the back room, the big band was getting set up and tuning, so I took a table near where a sax player was unpacking his instrument. He said hello and smiled.

Shouldn't you be up there blowing? I inquired of him.

"There will be a lot of blowing tonight," he said with a grin. "You may even feel a breeze." I was okay with that. Maybe a brass breeze could substitute for the absent sea breeze.

Sitting in with the band tonight were three horn players from Charlottesville, including the guy I'd just met, and after introducing them, the band leader said, "They grow some really green grass there." Non-sequitur or inside information?

The first song began with nothing but the upright bass and within seconds, everyone in the room was snapping their fingers along with the beat, a very good start.

From there, they did some testifying, swung hard and took the band in just about every direction they could as the crowd continued to grow. One group of eight or so pretty young things arrived, all sundress-clad, pulled out their phones and shot footage of the band briefly before exiting, stage right.

At the end of the first set, I got up to leave and was stopped by the music-loving science writer I'd met there a few months ago.

"I was just coming over to join you at your table," he explained. "I was getting tired of standing. Do you have to go already?"

Actually, yes, I do. You see, I had some surprisingly early nights - 10:25 one night!- while I was at the beach and my body hasn't fully adjusted back to RVA time.

Give it a few days and it'll be there. But for now, the ocean is still sorely missed.

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