Sunday, October 19, 2014

Autumn, Comes She Will

I hope I'm wrong, but I fear today was it.

With a cold front approaching, it could be the last day I get to wear shorts on my walk and the last night I get to see moonflowers open. As if they knew, I watched three open tonight through the screen in my bedroom window as I was dressing to go out.

Ah, summer, I miss you already.

My date for the evening was Pru and we headed to Bistro 27 for dinner, just across the street from the November theater where we planned to see a play afterwards.

Looking at my legs as we walked to the restaurant, she demanded to know how they looked so tanned in October. Simple, I told her, I'm still wearing shorts on my walk every day.

Inside, we sidled up to the bar and ordered glasses of Bricco-dei-Tati Rose, the color of cherry Kool-aid, coincidentally also the color of Barbera Rose, a far tastier pink quaff. Alas, I fear I will soon be missing my Roses, too.

Momentarily distracted by a dessert going by on its way to a nearby couple, we then debated what to order since it had been a while since we'd been in and so much of the menu is new, eventually settling on crabcakes (her) and Tuscan chicken flatbread (me).

The flatbread loomed large over the entire plate and then some, covered in a savory/sweet combination of grilled chicken, balsamic, plum tomatoes, basil and goat cheese. Her crabcake appetizer was mostly crab and sauteed golden brown, in other words, practically perfect to a crabhead like me.

Over dinner, we compared our thrifting adventures today (I won with a haul of 17 tops, 2 skirts, 1 shorts, 1 pants and 3 shrugs for a total of $5) at the Robinson Street Festival. I heard about her outing to the Roosevelt with old college chums last night, an evening that involved absinthe and a 2 a.m. bedtime, neither unusual for me and both highly irregular for her.

Today, she had the headache and lethargy that follows infrequent debauchery.

Dessert was a given (hello, Saturday night with a girlfriend) and the triple chocolate confection we'd seen go by earlier seemed like the obvious choice. Made by one of the prep cooks, it's the newest dessert item, all but begging us to check it out.

When Pru decided she needed coffee with hers, our bartender offered her espresso and then a single or double.

"Double, please," she said demurely. "I want it dark and growling." I assumed we were no longer talking about coffee, but I didn't pry.

The triple chocolate cake got my thumbs up for both its lightness and its variety of chocolate textures: mousse, cake and ganache.

As we were devouring it, four young men arrived to serenade the Irish couple sitting at the front table celebrating an occasion. Their lilting harmonies were beautiful to behold, made even better by having chocolate in our mouth as we listened.

What a delightful addition to the evening.

A satisfying meal over, we strolled across the street to see Cadence Theater's production of "Sight Unseen" by Donald Margulies.

Waiting in line to pick up tickets, I ran into a woman I hadn't seen in years whose first words were, "You don't age! You look exactly the same." While I know this is a compliment, what I wanted to say is, sure, it's fine now, but who wanted to look like this at 25 or 35? Instead, I say thanks.

Tickets in hand, we find our seats in the second row minutes before the lights go down.

My preference is always to go into a production knowing as little as possible so that the action can unfold for me with no hints of what's to come. It's like how I don't like to see previews for movies before I see them. Just give me what you got and let me see what I think.

"Sight Unseen" begins in a chilly farmhouse ("Here we hold on to our overcoats") in England ("No one is a good cook over here") with a visit from a now-famous American painter named Jonathan to Patricia, the woman who'd been his muse in college, and her adoring husband, Nick ("I take what I can get. I'm English").

His father has died last week yet he's crossed the pond for his first career retrospective where he's finding the press combative and trying to focus solely on his Jewishness. A flashback shows us how cruelly he dumped Patricia fifteen years earlier.

All of a sudden, it's intermission and I have absolutely no idea where this play is going, a truly delicious feeling as a member of the audience.

As the second act unfolds, we hear some excellent debate on what art is and what an artist's responsibility is as Nick looks at the catalog from Jonathan's show and finds his paintings lacking. As far as Nick's concerned, art ended with the Renaissance and he's dismissive of all modern art.

Jonathan insists that the job of the artist is not to participate because his intention in painting is irrelevant. Art is what the viewer brings to his work and what they choose to take away. Defending himself and his work he says, "It's the layers people go to in order to feel something today."

The layers in this play are many: about how relationships change, about settling when we can't get what we really want, about how success and money changes people, about losing our way in life and love and never really recovering. Why do people feel obligated to attend blockbuster art shows and then spend more time in the gift shop than with the art?

Andrew Firda is a standout as the husband in a mostly sexless marriage and his dry, British wit provides much of the play's humor while his sweet attempts to challenge the man who's been haunting his wife's heart for 15 years hint at the passion beneath his archeologist's heart.

Smart and thought-provoking, yet again Cadence Theater had provided plenty for Pru and I to discuss once the play ended and we were walking down Broad Street.

Where, I might add, the temperature was noticeably cooler than when we'd gone in and the breeze hinted at a night that will require closing my windows.

Except the bedroom windows, which will remain open so I can luxuriate in the scent of the moonflowers for the last time this year.

I take what I can get when summer is on her way out.

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