So, those 18 years of near daily walking? Paid off in spades by 10:30 this morning.
"You've got a badass walk," a guy informs me on Cary Street as I walk toward Can Can to have an apricot scone while my companion destroys a half baguette, the sausage of the day and a French Press.
Badass, you read that right.
Fittingly, I end the day with Mac, who never seems to have an umbrella on a rainy day (you have to appreciate a person's idiosyncrasies) despite prodigious walking skills but who doesn't mind borrowing or mocking one of mine (what's a few broken spokes between friends?).
Umbrellas in hand, we made it to Saison Market before the deluge was unleashed on J-Ward. There was an appropriately groovy alternative soundtrack while we ate the Springiest of Spring salads: asparagus, fresh peas, pea shoots, radishes, carrots, pickled onions and goat cheese lovingly drizzled with a practically perfect coriander vinaigrette.
Because how much help, really, do Spring vegetables need?
Fact is, I've been craving asparagus since spotting bunches of local Northern Neck asparagus on the counter at Ellen's store yesterday.
We followed our salads with oxtail sopas, which looked so enticing that a woman who sat down next to us asked what they were as if she might order them. Originally from Mechanicsville, she'd worked at an Applebee's there, which had proved to her that she needed to escape Mechanicsville ignorance and move into the city (her words).
A trip to the loo resulted in a memorization exercise when I flipped on the light switch and found the bulbs burnt out, but I only had to open the door once to determine the position of the essentials. Mac's subsequent visit benefited from me alerting the staff to the darkness problem and only then did I learn that the chalkboard wall in the loo had become a tribute to Prince. Sorry to have missed that.
I didn't even need the purple umbrella for the trek to The Basement, but the front had changed dramatically while we were eating, making it far cooler and drier than it had been pre-rain.
On Broad Street, we ran into some theater types "taking a walk" which they said was code for "sharing some gossip and talking about people," and isn't that one reason why having a walking buddy is essential sometimes?
Down the steps to the Basement we went, only to be greeted by the Prince station playing - although naturally there was no actual Prince music - but who's going to whine about Sheila E. and MJ?
My only complaint was when a Marvin Gay song came on and someone (Mags, was that you?) skipped it forward to Earth, Wind and Fire, whom I have nothing against (in fact, everything for) but seriously, no one at any time should ever be allowed to skip Marvin.
While the music was Purple-themed, the Basment's loo read, "Have you kissed a Canadian today?' with a drawing of a maple leaf beneath it. And you know what? I hadn't.
Tonight's comedy show was called "The Set Up" and featured four of Richmond Comedy Theatre's finest doing long-form improv on the set of TheatreLAB's current production of "Venus in Fur." For the uninitiated, this gave them access to a lounge chair (the kind psychiatrists had in their offices in Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies in the '50s and '60s), a desk, a radiator, two metal folding chairs and a fur coat.
Oh, yes, and a flip phone that was touted as a "brand new $800 Nokia phone" and got tons of laughs.
Using a bad Uncle Cracker song (redundant, I know) as a starting point, the first two actors took the lyric, "Swim through your veins like a fish in the sea" as their starting point for a riff on a shaky marriage ("I told you marrying me was a big mistake"), a Caddyshack-themed wedding ("Remember when the priest came out of the hole in the ground?") and a deluded attempt to arrange for more couple quality time to get the magic back by having their daughter kidnapped ("I have to come home every night and clean up my life!").
The crowd wasn't large but most everyone was doubled over with laughter watching masturbation under a fur coat and frustration with putting shoes on ("Double knots!").
Two people in the audience became part of the show with their non-stop commentary ("Oh, no, he did not just do that!") and reactions (hand slap to forehead, shaking head in disgust) as the drama and comedy unfolded.
Intermission gave everyone time to refill their glasses and give their face a rest from cracking up. Those of us huddled under a windbreaker were thrilled when the artistic director dialed back the A/C and put the warmth back in May.
For the second skit, the jumping off point was a song called "Nobody's Darlin' But Mine" - somebody in the audience's wedding song, awwww - with a line about, "Come lay your sweet head on my brow."
Somehow, this took us to the Founding Fathers' penchant for rye whiskey ("That's how they balled out") and getting the McGillicuddy contact ("Mama's gonna eat a lobster tonight!"). Maybe you have to be there to understand the transition, but it made perfect sense at the time.
What soon became clear was that when someone gets a grant to map the genome of a human squirrel, it's just a hop, skip and a jump to her injecting herself with squirrel venom containing squirrel genome.
The only problem with someone admitting, "I'm going to level with you, I'm 75% squirrel now," is that it also means they now have strong, furry thighs to climb a tree and that's not everyone's cup of tea (or bag of nuts).
With a cohabitation clause stipulating, "And they lived happily ever after" in her work contact, the squirrel woman finds out that contractually, she has to live in a tree with her coworker.
When he offers to inject himself with squirrel venom, she tells him, "I'm not attracted to squirrels," but she does sit him down to school him on what is and is not acceptable to say to squirrels.
She didn't mention it, but I'm pretty sure it's always okay to tell a human squirrel that she has a badass scamper. It's all in the furry thighs.