Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Won't You Smile a While for Me?

Yesterday's escape to the river was enough to make me forego poetry.

My Tuesday evening plan had been to go to Poetic Principles at the Library of Virginia, an event I always look forward to.

The only problem was that it was still 82 degrees when I got home from my road trip and I couldn't bear the thought of being inside while all that summer-like warmth was still outside.

I laid out a Plan B and my fellow poetry-lover was gracious enough to agree to a change in plans.

The river it was, albeit the James this time, by way of my favorite waterfront stopover, the Lilly Pad. Expecting it to be mobbed on such a gorgeous evening, we found only one large table celebrating a birthday, complete with balloons tied to the chairs.

Inside, we inquired what our choices were in white wine and were told, "I have this Chardonnay," as she hauled out a big 1.5 bottle and looked at us expectantly. Well, if that's what the options are, we'd love two glasses of it.

Looking at the chalkboard menu, I gravitated to the adjective adorned "juicy cheeseburger" and since it was also sushi night, the poet chose a spicy roll to round out our pan Asian-American meal.

Back outside, we headed straight for the coveted glider table closest to the river, aiming for the most distance from the raucous birthday celebrants and the best views of the goings-on near the water.

Boaters were pulling their boats out of the river and a couple of small crafts were still making their way along the dock. On the other side were what looked like a couple of houseboats with the blue light of TV screens glowing from within and the occasional occupant on the upper deck.

It must be an interesting life living on a houseboat. I met a woman a couple of years ago who had a house in Urbanna but chose to live on a houseboat at the end of her dock rather than in the house, which is where she let her guests stay when she had visitors.

Touring the boat with her, I couldn't help but be impressed with what an efficient use of space it was while they still had everything they needed. She was a talented cook who whipped up elaborate meals on the boat every night for her husband after a liberal happy hour on the deck above first. It sounded like a pretty good life to me.

For all I knew, some of those houseboat residents we were looking at were doing the same.

After polishing of the (juicy) cheeseburger and spicy roll, we wasted time gliding in the warm night air and watching new arrivals - a couple who surprisingly chose to eat inside, a biker who arrived on a chopper and then walked around to get feeling back in his legs before going in - help populate the place.

I know it's October, but I was still surprised that more people hadn't been lured down to the river on this beautiful evening like we had.

The only problem with the Lily Pad is how early it closes, so we stopped on the way back to the city for a nightcap at the Checkered Flag, a place I knew I was going to like as soon as I approached the door and could hear the jukebox playing "Me and Mrs. Jones."

Inside, we were welcomed warmly and a couple gave up their stools to go play video bowling so we could sit down.

The bartender, affable, welcoming and attentive, looked pleased as punch when I asked for 1800. "I got a bottle already in the freezer, honey" she said, beaming. After asking us our names, she used them every time she addressed us, as if were old friends.

Turns out her mother owns the bar and it'll become hers in a few more years, something she was clearly looking forward to. So now that we knew her five-year plan, we kind of did qualify as friends. That and when we asked if the kitchen was still open, she went right in the back and perfectly fried up some chicken wings for us.

I was way into the music someone had selected on the jukebox and when it ended, the woman who'd been bowling got up to put more money in, inviting me to join her to make selections while her boyfriend did a quick shot at the bar.

Since it was her money, I didn't want to foist my taste on her, but luckily I didn't have to because she was as big a fan of old-school soul as I am. Between the two of us, we chose Marvin Gay, Four Tops, Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder and a bunch of others.

When I asked her what her first concert had been, she didn't hesitate. "Hall and Oates, Three Rivers Stadium, 1987" and then selected "Sara Smile" from the Hall and Oates offerings on the screen.

Not a personal favorite, but it wasn't my money.

Returning to the bar, we chatted with her and her younger boyfriend who didn't recognize a lot of the old R & B we'd chosen. Technically, she was also too young to recognize it but she said her taste reflected her mother's taste and that her mother had been young.

And by young, she meant fourteen.

When you're told such personal facts as that by a stranger, you just take a sip of your 1800 and smile.

With apologies to the Sundays, poetry was not for me tonight.

No comments:

Post a Comment