Saturday, February 13, 2016

Smelling the Bright Cold

Sometimes a last minute date is the best date of all.

Shivering in the Polar Vortex, I was thrilled when my date arrived with heated seats and a good attitude, explaining away the occasional snowflake as mere errant precipitation. That's pretty sunny justification for someone who was only with me after canceling plans to go to a North Carolina oyster fest tomorrow because of snow.

My gain, but apparently we're a match made in heaven. Seems that triple Scorpios have loads of Gemini friends and I fit neatly into that category, or at least so said the astrologer of Patterson Avenue.

We started with dinner because after being gone for the early part of the week, my hired mouth was behind in its duties and we finished with my introduction to DeLuca Gelato because who doesn't want ice cream when it's 28 degrees and falling?

Honestly, I expected to find the place deserted but a half dozen people were enjoying gelato and another half dozen came in to buy it to go while we ate ours (banana Nutella and mint chocolate chip pleasingly not electric green) with our coats on.

I didn't say it made sense, I only said it was what we both wanted.

The heated seats then took us to HATTheatre to see "Connected," a black box production of ten 10-minute plays about relationships. This being Valentine's weekend, 'tis the season to focus on them, no?

It was an interesting premise and some worked better than others. A man crush on William Shatner and a cancer-stricken woman's attempt to connect with her daughter-in-law felt out of place with the other vignettes showcasing the hazards of couple love.

One of the best was "Sure Thing," set in a coffee shop where a guy decides to approach a woman busy reading Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury" and sipping coffee. The hook was their repeated attempts at conversation.

Each time one of them said something that turned the other off (and would have potentially ended their interaction), a bell rang and they "redid" their answers to each other. Reading material, film preferences, college, political affiliation, they went back and forth until each gave answers that pleased and intrigued the other one.

If only it worked that way.

My only bone to pick is that if there are men out there not only interested in women who read Faulkner but eager to discuss it with her, why haven't I ever met one? And men who also cop to an appreciation for early Woody Allen films? Where?

My date had a theory, "Men like that don't try to pick up women." Pity.

"Left to Right" was compelling in a different way, with four people lined up at a table, essentially two couples who were cheating on each other with the other's spouse and discussing it with their own and their lover. Very post-modern and civilized.

You'd probably have to be of a certain age or at least have had enough relationship experience to appreciate "Auld Lang Syne or I"ll Bet You Think This Play is About You" since it dealt with a couple who'd been together for years and now had been apart for two. She wanted to discuss their mistakes and move forward, preferably together.

You weren't so cynical before.
I'm older now.

In between each play, '70s music set the mood with songs like "I Feel the Earth Move," "Love the One You're With," "You're So Vain" and "With a Little Love." My date (who joked, "I was raised on ZZ Top") sang along to more than a few of them.

We both lost patience with the couple in "Phoning It In," two millennials purportedly attempting a serious discussion about the state of their relationship, while being almost constantly interrupted by their ringing phones, which (for whatever unfathomable reasons) they answered every single time.

The kind of annoying characters who are impossible to like or care about.

One of the sweetest plays was "Please Have a Seat" about two patients in a group therapy office. After seeing each other for months at their weekly appointments without speaking or acknowledging the other, he finally starts talking to her, despite her resistance (which is one of the issues she's working on with her therapist).

Fittingly, the evening ended with "Grunions," about a couple who've been married 14 years, have come to see a fish orgy and are dealing with the reality that nothing turns out the way you expect it to in love and relationships.

Or, as my mother likes to say when my father does or says something particularly male and annoying, "No jury in the world would convict me."

It's true. You only want to kill the ones you're connected to.

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