Friday, July 18, 2014

Stick with Me, Baby

Luck was a lady pretty much all day for me.

After concerns and re-testing - this time requiring not only X-rays but ultrasounds - my second medical appointment of the week ultimately delivered negative results.

After not seeing a close friend for a month, we managed to fit in a last minute, long lunch with her 10-month old crushing on me hard (perhaps related to me giving him not only his first captain's wafers but his first whipped cream) while leaving a minefield of sweet potato tots under his high chair.

When we finally parted, he gave me a look of betrayal for abandoning him to his mother. "Boys never like it when Karen leaves," she jokes.

And when it came time to plan the evening, I knew I wanted to take it easy with a classic dinner and a movie date.

Collecting my friend Gigi - currently afflicted with galloping consumption - I drove directly to Lemon Cuisine of India for dinner, just in case.

I had no smelling salts with me.

There, the waiter not only recognized her but knew her usual order (chicken tikka masala), a good thing since when she decided to break bad and order lamb masala for a change, he told us they were out of lamb on a Friday night.

"Someone forgot to order lamb," she sniffed.

I wasn't enough of a regular to know anyone. Well, except for the poet at the next table who chatted with me about the current VCU library renovations, promising the return of poetry readings in the Fall.

While I'm no fan of Fall (summer's my season), at least there's that to look forward to.

For dinner, I made an excellent choice with shrimp madras, a plate of jumbo shrimp sauteed in and topped by a crunchy, madras spice blend over pink peppercorn-mint raita.

The spice of her tikka masala acted like a tonic to her compromised body and before long we were carrying on about dullard exes, people who don't read and Kurt Vonnegut. She even spent time trying to convince me I should be on Pinterest.

I don't know about all that, but I knew we had a movie to see.

In line at the Westhampton, the guy behind us said loudly and sarcastically, "Richmond has such long lines!" There were four people in front of him, hence the joke, but it led to talk of why a town this size needs a traffic helicopter to see a three car backup.

Yes, I assumed he, like Gigi and me, is a come-here.

Full of Indian, we opted out of popcorn and found seats in the front row for "Begin Again," a film which had surprised Gigi when I suggested it.

True, it's got big name stars in it, but also it's by the Irish director of "Once" and music is involved, so I wanted to take a chance on it.

The little upstairs theater was surprisingly full considering what a beautiful evening it was, but since most of them appeared to be couples, it was more about date night than weather, I think.

Mark Ruffalo (whom I didn't recognize but Gigi insisted I'd seen before...only I looked up his films and I haven't seen a one) did a terrific job as Dan, the alcoholic, down-on-his-luck former record producer and Kiera Knightley bravely voiced her own songs as Gretta, the waifish (as if Kiera could play anything else) singer who refuses to sell out.

Adam Levine was the self-involved singer boyfriend whose career is just taking off and leaves her in the dust.

As someone who once sat through an amphitheater full of screaming girls at a Maroon 5 concert in August 2004, seeing it on the big screen was like deja vu.

The plot followed Gretta as Dan helped her make an album, recording each song in a different place in NYC over the course of the summer with a ragtag group of musicians.

So, yes, I liked the movie because it had to do with music. "You can tell a lot about a person by their playlist," she tells him, embarrassed at some of the guilty pleasures on her device.

In the olden days, we used to say that about a person's book and record collection.

My favorite scene showed the two of them walking down street using a splitter and headphones to listen to her music.

He was impressed with Sinatra's "Luck, Be a Lady," but it was when Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" came on that she went crazy, half dancing as they walked.

"Okay, okay, we gotta go dance," she tells him and they duck into a nearby club, headphones still on, to dance to Stevie while all around them people are dancing to something else.

Very romantic, if you ask me.

She half apologizes for "As Time Goes By" but it leads him to talking about how music changes everyday banalities into transcendent pearls of wisdom as they watch the theater of the street elevated by what they're listening to.

Tell me something I don't already know.

And on a night when I don't intend to be out until 2 a.m. but still want to enjoy every minute, a movie about music will do nicely.

"Where are you going dancing after this?" Gigi asks when I drop her off.

That's for another night.

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