Saturday, April 30, 2016

Honk If You See Me

Sometimes, you take a newspaper to a restaurant, only to get moved three times.

Every seat at Amuse's bar was taken when I walked in, so I was directed to one of the mod green chairs, a perfectly fine perch for a solo diner intent on reading her Washington Post  and all the better if I could find someone who wanted to read a section with me

Just as I was finishing the Weekend section, sipping a glass of Rose and awaiting my food, I was asked if I minded moving so a group of four could use the chairs.

No problem. I took a chair near a couple who told me they were busy dissecting their awful Friday, but since my day had consisted of a walk (where one of the guys down on Dock Street had greeted me by saying, "I'd recognize that walk anywhere! Where's your hat today?") and hours in at my desk writing to make a deadline, I didn't have a lot to complain about with them.

It was a bit awkward trying to eat chicken tortilla soup while seated in a deep chair hovering over a low bar table, but the bartender's recommendation of the soup was right on. Full of chicken, chickpeas and tortilla strips, the broth had the level of heat that ensures you crave another bite immediately but not so hot that it was ever burning my mouth.

I was only halfway through the bowl when I was alerted that a seat had opened up at the bar, if I was willing to move yet again. With another drippy course on the way, it seemed wise to get to a closer surface to eat off of.

The bar crowd welcomed me into their fold, I cleaned my bowl of soup and started on a bowl of Mussels and ham in a white wine butter broth that eventually left me in a butter coma after sopping up an obscene amount of it.

Needing to move for fear I'd fall asleep, I strolled the new photography show, "Kertesz," marveling at the photographer's Modernist eye in the collection of stunning black and white images, some familiar like the one of two people looking at a circus through a hole in a fence. For another, Kertesz used his brothers as models, the two in Speedos, holding hands and using their body weight to counterbalance each other in mid-air.

I'll need to go back when I have a bit more time to scope out the show in full.

When a familiar face called my name, I joined their group, which involved tasting a new cocktail of mezcal, moonshine, pineapple juice and vanilla shrub (you'll never disappoint me with a mezcal cocktail) and discussing my trip to California with one who lived there a dozen years. It isn't often I meet someone who's also stayed at the Timber Cove Lodge, so that made for a delightful surprise.

Another restaurant type informed me that she'd spotted me in my natural habitat - J-Ward - recognized me immediately ("I spotted those legs and knew it was you!") but resisted the urge to hit the horn, knowing I wouldn't recognize her car. What's a random honk among friends?

Despite the dining room being completely full, for a change the bar wasn't overcrowded, so we had no guilt camping out to reminisce about the history of Richmond's restaurant scene and why certain neighborhoods are so far superior to others. Fan? No, thank you. Church Hill? Too isolated. Woodland Heights? Not for me.

When I pulled out my card to pay, I made a crack about its prehistoric nature since I don't yet have a chip card. As soon as I said it, the guy in the seat next to me whipped around to explain that if I called Wells Fargo, I could get a chip card immediately.

He pulled out his card to show me the graphic pattern he'd designed to go on his card and suggested when I do get my new card that I have an image put on it (so, yes, this stranger was trying to drag me into the 21st century right here at the bar) to further personalize it.

Explaining patiently to him that I'd only gotten a Wells Fargo card last year - yes, I've been carrying around a Wachovia card for years after the 2009 merger - he laughed.

I'm in no hurry for a chip card, I told him, because I'm a Luddite. When I said I had no cell phone, he countered proudly that he didn't use Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. As a 29-year old, he thinks his generation is losing social skills due to reliance on technology and as a millennial who realizes this, he's an exception.

The funny part was, he sees the generation behind him (the early 20-somethings) as completely clueless and overly-dependent on devices in a much worse way than his people. I tried not to laugh at the distinction, then belatedly noticed he had a companion.

Wait, are you on a date? Yes, he says and turns back to it reluctantly. Good luck and godspeed with that, friend.

I got home to find a message waiting for me requesting the pleasure of my company and before long I was walking over to the Comedy Theater for some laughs and a Red Eye chocolate chip cookie, which, if you ask me, was a cookie tailored to the taste of generations raised on slice and bake cookies.

Overly sweet, not enough texture, just a lame sort of cookie. Granted, their target demographic is students studying and munched out at 2 a.m. and that's not me, but I couldn't help but be disappointed.

Luckily, the comedy made up for the cookie with the Disco Lemonade team kicking things off with a skit about boys - What do dudes like to do? Play video games and smash things - and the Work Family team taking on this unfortunate election cycle - I am a millennial and we are the future - with no hesitation about slamming Trump - I went to a restaurant and there was no T-bone on the menu. What's this world coming to? - and the rationalizations of racism - I think I'm a cute racist - all in pursuit of laughs.

Walking home in the finest of drizzles, my butter coma finally starting to wear off, I took stock of my evening. A few good laughs and excellent food and wine savored in multiple seats, although epic failure at finding a fellow reader.

Wait, I went to an art-filled restaurant and there were no newspaper-readers to discuss its articles with? What's this world coming to?

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