Friday, February 26, 2016

Keep Your Eyes on the Legs

Gemini: Allow a little more levity into your daily life. Sometimes you could feel overwhelmed by all the requests being made of you. Schedule time for a loved one, whether it's a lengthy lunch or a special happening at the end of the day.

Believe me, I'm trying to look for levity in all the right places.

After two solid months of planning, two Geminis took on today's fierce wind by walking to Citizen for lunch (see above) and two hours of conversation.

What do you call something if you're trying to name it after me? The Bon Vivant, I'm told.

My day was made.

The new location boasts everything the old one didn't: soaring ceiling height, a rack of vintage comic books, colorful artwork, lots of light and a bar (not to mention dinner hours).

Lunch was two pupusas filled with black beans and cheese, topped with radishes, cilantro and pulled pork with a sassy tomatillo salsa for dipping. The accompanying curtido was less slaw-like and more pickled sliced vegetables, but the fruit salad - pineapple, apples, grapefruit, orange, kiwi - was appealingly fresh and juicy.

The entire afternoon was spent south of the river at the studio of a painter whose Dad once told me I was hot. Did I mention his Dad is my eye doctor? When I shared this information, he chuckled, insisting his father had every right since it was an "appropriate compliment."

With a clever wit and decided talent for mimicry, he entertained me to the point of laughter (see above) while surrounded by his paintings on the wall. Even when we got on to heavier subjects, an innate positivity suffused his take on life, something a fellow optimist appreciates.

Then there was the geek appeal. There is nothing quite as satisfying as spending hours with another art history nerd.

To illustrate what he was talking about, he'd pull out an art book or six and show me color plates of the paintings in question. Eventually, he brought out his laptop and we went down countless rabbit holes when we were reminded of this artist or that.

We went so far as to look at his high school yearbook so I could see him as a fresh-faced over-achiever participating in almost every activity.

It's no wonder when we looked up hours had passed and the sun was looking faint.

Scheduling time for me, I stopped at home long enough to find out how many people were making requests of me (see above) in the time I'd been gone (eight), changed clothes and went to dinner.

L'Opossum's bar had my favorite stool free and a man just finishing up his dinner - well, actually scraping every last bit of creme brulee out of the dish noisily with his spoon - so I slid in and was immediately greeted by the bartender who said he remembered serving me at Balliceaux.

Honestly, I marvel at how servers manage to remember a face out of so many.

As always, the lighting was gloriously dim (read: flattering) and the chef's play list was terrific. I'm talking French pop songs, Liberace, Burl Ives' "Keep Your Eyes on the Hands," a cover of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" and my favorite Petula Clark song, "Don't Sleep in the Subway."

Noting my interest in the eclectic soundtrack, a photographer friend walked over, pointed at the speaker and said, "And that's Charro. I love this play list he made." Coochie, coochie (Google it, kids).

New to me on the menu was French onion dip gratinee with brandied figs served with Grandma Dave's toasted pecan-currant bread, which read like a list of things Karen loves. Accompanied by a glass of Jean-Luc Columbo Rose, I swooned over the sweet/salty combination and the flavorful vehicle to get it to my mouth.

Just as I finished eating, a guy asked if the seat next to me was taken (nope), ordered a martini (gin, so it counts as a martini) and provided me with a conversational partner.

I couldn't get too excited about his taste in music - jam bands, as in he's seen Phish scores of times - but his job fascinated me. First of all, he lives nowhere, as in no apartment, no house.

Because he works for the largest mobile power company in the world, he moves around and makes his home in different places depending on the job. Right now, that's in Richmond, but often his job involves happenings such as movie shoots and major sporting events. As in, he'll be in Rio this summer for the Olympics.

No home base, how interesting is that?

It suits his foodie nature fine because he gets to discover fabulous food cities through constantly moving around. Right now, he's in love with Richmond, especially how affordable it is to eat here, although he admitted a tendency to find something he likes and get in a rut with it.

He's been to Pizza Tonight four of the past seven days and had the same dish - pappardelle with duck ragout - every time.

Running into me seemed pre-ordained since he immediately asked for a list of places to eat so he can branch out, noting them in his phone and checking the spellings with me.

While I enjoyed venison carpaccio, he dug into Moroccan chicken, moaning over its complexity (and price) and feeling virtuous for a) having gone to the gym and b) breaking his pasta streak.

Despite our near stranger status, I neatly took care of that by sharing with him my lobster mac and cheese adrift in truffle mornay sauce and effectively sucking him right back down the pasta rabbit hole. Don't let him tell you he wasn't willing to be seduced.

Sated, our conversation drifted back to music. After procuring paper from the bartender and checking his phone, he wrote something down and slid it over to me like a secret password. The New Mastersounds, April 26, Broadberry.

"I expect you to be there," he said, certain that the British jazz fusion/funk band would appeal to me. "I hope you show up on a bar stool next to me at one of these other restaurants."

Are you trying to overwhelm me by making a request of me?

The final stop of the evening was at Stir Crazy Cafe to see Eastern European and Balkan folk band My Son, the Doctor play.

Not that I haven't seen them before, but now my friend is their bass player, a fact I only learned  last weekend when I randomly ran into him for the first time in three years. So long that both our relationship statuses had changed since I'd last seen him.

Holy cow, he'd gotten married. I had nothing to compare to that.

With dueling clarinets, guitar, bass, drums and percussion, the band wove a spell over the coffee shop that eventually caused two obviously talented women to get up and begin belly dancing in the center of the room (see above), despite not a single song being sung in English.

Sometimes special happenings at the end of the day don't require words you can understand. Most times they do.

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