Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Way We Get By

Few things are as charming to witness as a man falling in love.

A lavish lunch lasted until nearly 4:00 because there was so much to talk about, namely that he can't even look at her Instagram feed without fixating on her lips and wishing he was kissing them.

Honestly, just being around someone so utterly under a woman's spell feeds my soul.

Luckily, we built a walk into our lunch outing so we'd have plenty of time for discussion of other matters, too, but by the time I got home, it was time to get ready to go out for the evening.

Climbing over a man in the prime row at the smallish Criterion Cinema, I was surprised when I heard him say, "Karen?"

Sure enough, it was one of my play-going cohorts who, like me, manages to make it to most of the local art theater's offerings - especially when the movies are about to change - for the sake of seeing the more obscure films that make their way to Richmond.

Tonight it was "Elvis & Nixon," appealing to me on many levels - the '70s era it depicted, Kevin Spacey as Nixon and even the surreal notion that these two oddballs ever ate M & Ms and Dr. Peppers together - despite being distributed by Amazon Studios, and who knew they were even in the movie business, although no one will be surprised when they take over the world, either.

Fun fact: the official photograph of Nixon and Elvis taken at the White House that day is the National Archives' most requested picture.

Let's pause for a moment to consider what that says about us as a people. Even the moon landing shots take a backseat to the King and Dick.

The soundtrack, succinct but evocative, ranged from "Hold On, I'm Coming" to "Spinning Wheel," an effective cross-section of the time. At least it wasn't the usual hackneyed choices.

Yes, of course, I reveled in the cultural history details: ceramic coffee mugs on planes, multiple phones for bigwigs so they could multi-task, Secret Service agents fawning rather than protecting White House occupants.

But I also recall the 1970 photograph of the President and Elvis and that was enough to pique my curiosity about the unlikely tete a tete, even if Michael Shannon did make for a gruesome looking Elvis.

After watching a hippie-hating Elvis appeal to a war-mongering president, there wasn't much to do but go drink to forget.

Luckily, tonight was Secco's sixth anniversary, making for a full house, far too many amateurs and a killer flight of 2010 wines: Marguet "10" Grand Cru Champagne, Defaix Chablis and Sella Brammaterra, an understated mostly Nebbiolo gem to close out the flight.

Next to me was a couple with a bag from For the Love of Chocolate who, raised by wolves as they apparently were, saw no problem in pulling out pieces of candy and eating them at Secco's bar as they sipped their wine.

I was nothing short of overjoyed when a staff member informed them that this was not a good idea, which put them in a huff, causing them to leave soon after. Since when is it okay to bring food into a restaurant, children?

Meanwhile, a couple on a date took over two tables with their food and belongings, but my sense was that the date wasn't going very well because the woman kept disappearing into the bathroom (four times in 15 minutes, whoa) while he continued to shovel in food, seemingly oblivious to the red flag.

With the anniversary celebration public knowledge, it was an understandably lively vibe with people continuing to arrive as lights were dimmed and music went from Portishead to Spoon, making for a decidedly more upbeat vibe.

It was the regulars who benefited when it was discovered that a bottle of Pierre Paillard Grand Cru Brut Champagne had mistakenly been opened and its creamy contents shared among the fortunate few. Timing is everything and I was happy to be in the right place at the right time.

Olli Calabrese and Chateau les Valentines Rose took me through the home stretch, wherein I was warned that the full moon falls on Friday the thirteenth, that some people have never heard of a digestif and that dish pits make men out of boys.

And hopefully, the best kind of men: the type who wind up utterly in love and unable to think about anything else but her.

That, my friend, is a high as good as a bottle of Pierre Paillard. Or so I've heard.

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