Sunday, September 14, 2014

Never Enough Sun and Sea

Fall is making its imminent arrival known and I'm not at all happy about it.

You see, I'm a summer person, never happier than when it's warm enough that I need a minimum of clothes. Unlike so many people I know, I'm not into scarves, layers and jackets.

So while parts of my walk this morning on the North Bank trail were delightfully sunny and warm, the shaded parts were feeling cooler than they have all summer.

When I got to Texas Beach to wade in, the river was not the bathwater temperature it's been for months now.

That leaves me hoping for many weeks of Indian summer but acknowledging that Fall is just around the corner. Sadly.

The only thing I like about the approaching season is that the cultural calendar is back in swing, meaning things such as UR's international film series, which kicked off tonight.

Before taking on an Italian film on a serious subject, though, I scooted over to Saison for fried chicken night, sliding into the one remaining bar stool between two guys watching football.

The one to the left was gracious, making sure I had enough room and welcoming me while the other was deep in his crossword puzzle.

When he asked if he could have a vodka and pineapple juice, the bartender paused noticeably and then said okay.

Both his friend and I noticed the pause, assuming that the bartender wanted him to consider the cocktail menu and perhaps order something more interesting.

His friend insisted he try something different, but the guy held fast even after tasting the other's drink ("too spicy!").

You have to respect a guy who knows what he wants.

Their half chicken arrived shortly before my quarter chicken did and it was as I was carving into my thigh that the vodka drinker said, "Look at you using a fork and knife."

Putting them down, I explained that I was only cutting into it to release some heat so I'd be able to eat it sooner with my fingers.

"Look, don't mess with her," his friend said cutting into his own. "She's been to fried chicken night here before and knows the deal."

I was pleased to see that tonight's sides were different: a cucumber and red onion marinated salad and cornbread, but not that sticky sweet variety that passes for cornbread so many places these days.

No, this was a much drier crumb and not nearly as sweet, much closer to my Richmond grandmother's classic cornbread.

You know how I do, smearing honey butter all over it, but Mr. Vodka couldn't get behind the honey butter. Too weird, he claimed, although he loved the cuke salad.

When I abruptly got up to leave for my movie, he turned to me smiling and said, "Thanks for our first dinner date."

Went pretty well for strangers, don't you think?

Then it was on to University of Richmond where I joined a decidedly mixed audience, half students and half middle-aged and up.

Tonight's offering was "Miele," which means honey and was the title character's nickname, interesting because her occupation was assisting people with suicide due to terminal illness.

The directorial debut of Valeria Golino, it was a beautifully shot, gorgeously lit character study highlighting the beauty of life and the importance of music.

What struck me was that the film didn't take a position on assisted suicide, just showed suffering people who had made the decision to check out, so Honey felt she was helping them with their request.

That is, until a man asks for her to provide the drugs to do it himself (a first since she always attends the ritual, providing the drug and often the music), which she reluctantly does.

Only afterwards does she learn that he has no terminal illness, he's just depressed and tired of life.

The rest of the film follows their relationship as she tries to talk him out of it and he holds fast to his plans.

Spotting the stud in her tongue he asks about it and she explains it has Aztec roots but he's unimpressed.

"Contemporary idiocy knows no limits," he observes. Amen to that.

When he finally comes to visit her at her tiny and spare oceanfront house, he comments, "Too much sun, too much sea, too much wind," summarily dismissing her choice of habitation.

Oh, and P.S., there's no such thing, in my humble opinion.

Not one but two older couples got up and walked out after seeing the second assisted suicide, not at all a violent thing to watch but most definitely a sad one to see the reaction of the loved one who remains.

Their loss. They missed a visually stunning film, honest to its core, with the kind of complex characters superbly acted rarely seen in American films. A film that never came to Richmond.

My summer days are waning and Fall is beginning to seem like an inevitability but at least the culture quotient is seeing an uptick.

And no matter the season, there's always the beauty of life and the importance of music..honey.


  1. Fall is just the Other Side of Spring.


  2. You're so wise, cw. It's just that at the end of Fall is really cold weather and that's what I'm not fond of. But I'll make the most of it anyway, you know that!