Sunday, June 12, 2016

For the Love of Mockery

Talk all you want about the "black" card or the "woman" card, but let's get serious about the "city" card.

As in, don't tell me you can't park your compact little car in a space that would accommodate both my Altima and Pru's Mini because I will expect you to park and adjust until you are less than 18 inches from the curb anyway.

Otherwise, I will make a citizen's arrest to confiscate your "city" card. Beau was so hesitant about taking on the parking gauntlet I threw down that a bicyclist riding by piled on, calling out, "Tell him he can park up here," gesturing at an open-ended space that could have accommodated an 18-wheeler.

That kind of condescension while biking is a treat to behold. Luckily, Beau kept his card.

The barkeep at Belmont Food Shop greeted me discreetly, as if we had not just seen each other 18 hours ago, and set up the four of us in the front window, where the confluence of today's 90-something temperatures, a western exposure and the setting sun ensured that perspiration ensued.

"Chef says it's too hot for confit," our server pronounced, setting down plates of amuse bouches (gougeres and three kinds of dressed diced beets, all swoon-worthy) to replace confit. Pickled shrimp and pate took us right into a conversation about the relationship across the table.

"You mean I'm still on trial?" he asks, mock incredulously. No, you're in training, we clarify.

"Training?" Pru challenges. "I prefer 'probation.'" It was immediately clarified that the end game was not a pre-determined outcome, but whatever worked best for both because the term "relationship" is a malleable one, god knows.

Everything we ordered was dead tasty (as my Scottish friend would phrase it) and that extended from the killer skate over sauteed pea shoots to clam chowder to crabmeat over avocado to a sunny asparagus salad with baked Ricotta and lemon to smoked bluefish dip.

When it came time to consider dessert, Pru admonished, "You can have whatever you want," only to get the cheeky response, "I want a 120-pound body and a tall, dark and handsome 35-year old."

Yes, don't we all?

When the subject returned to Beau's lack of parallel parking confidence, the tragic result of too many years living in suburbia, Pru interjected with an idea that she and I would sit in my apartment sipping wine while he practiced parking down on my street between two orange cones outfitted with eggs on top of them, a ploy gleaned from an episode of "The Brady BUnch."

For the record, Marcia did a far better job parallel parking than Greg Brady did, but who's really surprised at that?

In any case, Pru's thought was that we'd watch from above, judging his parking moves and tossing out small rewards when he succeeded. I thought Tootsie Rolls would make a fine reward.

"I'd parallel park for Tootsie Rolls!" she announces, proving yet again why we're soul mates. I'd do a lot for Tootsie Rolls.

After French silk pie and chocolate bread pudding was an acknowledgement that Pru and Beau "will always have coffee" (as opposed to Paris, I suppose), a reference to their shared caffeine addiction which, despite the heat, had them drinking a French press.

We left Belmont to take the scenic route past horse paddocks and nouveau riche houses to Agecroft for Quill's production of "Twelfth Night" on a hot eleventh night of June.

Fortunately, Pru had brought a dramatic black fan with purple flowers for self-cooling, while many in the crowd pressed their programs into service.

My job was to snag the tickets at the box office, where a man walked in and announced, "I hate dealing with old people," a statement that stopped me in my tracks. What exactly do you mean by old?

"Older than you," he assured me. "Besides, you're beautiful." Thanks, stranger.

Tucked to the side of the stage in front of a garden of delphiniums, zinnias, snapdragons and coneflowers and behind a man in a seersucker shirt, our seats afforded a fine view of the two actors laying down the ground rules about not leaving feet in the aisles or walking where the actors would be.

"It sounds silly, but it's happened before and we will cut you," Luke Schares as Feste deadpanned under light blue skies with a pale wedge of a moon overhead. Before the play was over, I'd marvel at a heron flying overhead, spot multiple planes, both large and small crafts, and see stars begin to appear.

Shall we set about some revels?

Goodness knows I've seen "Twelfth Night" more than my fair share of times. I've seen it done as a gender-reversed play, as a staged reading, outdoors in Petersburg, by a high school cast, with Scott Wichmann as Malvolio and actually on Twelfth Night and that's just what I can remember.

But it's an easy play to love, unlike others, as evidenced by the Bermudian explaining why she'd opted out of Quill's outdoor productions last summer. "I just couldn't do "Lear." Talk about depressing!"

Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage

Tonight's cast was strong, the energy never lagged and the entire production felt like a non-stop rollicking good time, the perfect summertime entertainment. There was dancing, singing and headstands.

I smell a device.

For language nerds, part of the satisfaction of Shakespeare is word choice and more than once - jot, dissemble, excellent ignorance - Pru and I bemoaned the loss of certain colorful words that have fallen out of use, at least in the circles we frequent.

Daylight and Champagne discovers not more.

Thomas Cunningham as the hapless Malvolio blustered, begged and was sweating bullets as the play's action moved around him, but we felt sorry for all the men in three piece suits onstage.

I am indeed not her fool but her corrupter of words.

The lights being on during intermission put out a call to nature, resulting in a swarm of night bugs joining the audience for the second act, flying about into our chairs, noses and mouths (so undoubtedly the actors' as well) and swirling around the stage.

Pru referred to it as "The Pestilence," but I prefer Shakespeare's words.

Why, this is very mid-summer madness.

Which perhaps is what sitting in the courtyard of a 500-year old Tudor house watching a 500-year old play about love and mockery absent Tootsie Rolls amounts to.

If so, give me excess of it.

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