Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Run Over by a Bus

Not to start out too deep, but life is all about timing.

There have been certain instances in my life when I knew that a good thing was happening to me, but it wasn't the right time to accept it. Other times, I feel like my arms were wide open to whatever life handed me, but nothing appropriate came into them.

The biggest lesson of my life happened when I was 28 and it taught me that I have absolutely no control over what awful things could be dropped in my lap.

It was also a gift that convinced me that I'd had my lowest point and nothing could ever destroy me like that again. Of course, I was wrong.

These days, I'm really quite happy with my life, simple as it is. I feel lucky to have the people I do in my life and fortunate to still get so much pleasure out of what I do.

Would I change a few things if I could? No doubt. Am I complaining about where I am? Not a chance.

Tonight's adventure began at Graffiato's early, meaning when I walked in, it was uncrowded enough that I could actually hear the music (Goo Goo Dolls, Tom Petty, Bowie) and there were plenty of bar stools available for dinner. At that point the staff outnumbered the guests three to one and I saw more than one restaurant owner was in attendance.

Taking advantage of happy hour, Montelvini Prosecco on tap was procured, followed by a plate of cheeses- Grayson and Bianco Sardo- and meat -finocchiona, a fennel Tuscan salami, served on slate with all the usual suspects.

Pickled veggies, you are as ubiquitous as tattoos in this town.

Conversation was more focused than usual, defining, designating, qualifying and planning for a project that has its seeds in a decade-old idea.

Finally, it's time to walk the walk.

As customers - the kind who like to sit at tables and not the bar - began to arrive and with plans for a movie, we moved on to entrees: satisfying gnocchi with pork ragu and whipped ricotta followed by rich, meaty monkfish with farro and gremolata.

I'm getting used to the showmanship of the food runners who not only bring the plates but deliver a detailed explanation of what you're getting along with a spoon, whether you need it or not (um, a spoon for a meat and cheese board?).

Easy as it would have been to linger for more Prosecco, we had a movie to catch at the Westhampton, "Love is Strange" with John Lithgow and Alfred Molina.

Having just last month seen Lithgow in "The World According to Garp," although he was 38 in that and he was 69 (and playing a 79-year old) in tonight's film, it was fascinating to see a more recent representation of his superb acting skills.

The story of two gay men who have been together for 39 years was sweet, romantic and a reminder that marriage can still get a gay person let go from a church-related job. Is this not 2014?

Most of the film revolved around them having to temporarily bunk with relatives after they sell their apartment when one partner loses his job.

The story sails along with family interruptions, comic moments and couple tenderness when the two can be alone and then suddenly there's a huge surprise that I never saw coming. It's sad and surprising/not surprising at the same time.

Is anyone ever truly ready for whatever life hands them? Of course not. We adapt, adjust and regroup, we're mended at the places that broke but we're also changed for good.

Sometimes there's still time to move on changed, but not always. Who doesn't remember what our mothers told us about life being fair?

So after an exquisitely acted film, the only logical thing to do was stop for a nightcap and discuss the film, the bartender's path in life and chat with the woman who, when "Sweet Caroline" came on, told me she's been known to dance in the window of the bar when it plays.

After her jukebox picks ended, I insisted on making some of my own selections, to which she retorted, "I'll tell you if I don't like them." No doubt.

With her in mind, I went old school - Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Jackson Browne, Al Green- and she didn't badmouth a single one. That said, she was also outside smoking cigarettes much of the time.

When "Cracklin' Rosie" came on, she exploded with happiness singing along and when her man finally dragged her out, she again reminded me to come back when she's drunk so I can see her dancing in the front window.

Since it's hard to say when that might be, I stand a good chance of never seeing her dance in the window, much as I might want to. Timing.

Then again, life could surprise me with something so much better I'll forget all about her. Lucky timing.

For better or for worse, always the optimist.

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