Sunday, July 31, 2016

Someday We'll Be Together

Would anyone really want to read yet another sad saga about my attempt to see a play being thwarted by summer weather behaving badly?

That's what I thought.

Better instead I share my walk up a deserted - it was prime church time - Chamberlayne Avenue where the clerk at Walgreens told me he'd driven through heavy fog to get to work this morning. That fog had become pea soup and I'd sweated my way through it to get there.

Walking home, I crossed the bridge over the paddock where two mounted police horses were casually grazing in a mostly dirt field, the one gnawing on some higher branches out of necessity. I remember the first time I'd spotted the horses there and the feeling of amazement that horses lived a quarter of a mile from me.

When I passed Perly's a bit later, the line waiting for seats was almost to the corner. People who wouldn't consider eating outside were willing to stand out there indefinitely in hopes of some beef bacon.

No, you explain it to me.

The shank of the afternoon was spent on lunch and then the matinee of "Dreamgirls" at the November Theatre, which, it must be noted, was completely full and satisfyingly diverse.

I understand that blue hair lives matter, but it was nice to see a matinee crowd who didn't all qualify for Social Security for a change.

With the usual gaping holes in my pop cultural literacy, I'd never seen "Dreamgirls," not the play, not the movie. To my credit, I'm enough of a Supremes fan to have held on to half a dozen pieces of their vinyl all these years, and I've certainly read plenty about their backstory.

So I knew the essence of the play's plot before the razzle-dazzle production kicked off with a parade of '60s and '70s fashions, falls and wigs to designate the passage of time, songs that were well-executed but never truly grabbed me and a lot of choreography I very much enjoyed.

As I did conversation with the charming man who'd moved to Hampton in 1960 and his lovely "friend" ("My wife died 15 years ago," he explained after calling her "friend") next to him, both avid theater buffs who happily discussed venues there and restaurants here for post-theater dining.

To be helpful, I provided a list.

Because it felt like a two-musical day, the later plan was to meet a friend at Dogwood Dell for a performance of "Spamalot," except it was up to me to go and stake out territory until she got off work.

When I got there, the orchestra was chatting among themselves, rows were gradually filling up with a mixture of beach chairs, tall chairs, blankets and, among the young, grass-sitters. It was like being out of town because I didn't see a soul I knew.

Which was only slightly problematic since I was meeting a friend. Later, she calls to tell me she hung with strangers when she couldn't find me, ran into the restaurateur I recently introduced her to and then proceeds to give me the "man dish," at least right up until he calls.

An announcement was made from the stage that there was to be no ball or Frisbee throwing in the seating area, as if civilized people wouldn't presume this. The "no alcohol or glass" announcement was met with no reaction, undoubtedly due to the number of people imbibing.

A few drops of rain, a little heat lightening and the performance was delayed 20 minutes. Lightening got bolder and we were sent away.

Believe me, I know the drill.

Waiting in the bottleneck to leave the Dell, I saw a guy ask about the year on a shiny blue Mustang ('67, classic stuff) and a couple of guys tossing a Frisbee between trees in the parking lot. Making lemonade, folks, that's all they're doing.

Cruising home, listening to the radio sing, "I got a picture of you over the hazard light," and silently giving thanks that young men still write such things, I was caught unaware when, yet again, the Weather Service started warning that Richmond and a lot of nearby places were about to get slammed.

ETA in Jackson Ward: 9:10, which you know means I was determinedly driving east trying to take shelter before any bad weather hit. Why take them so seriously, you ask? Last time they provided a strong warning and time, devastation touched down within two minutes of their prediction.

Seems they are right on the money sometimes.

After deciding not to take out my contacts so as to avoid a near-sighted, impressionistic view of the storm, I took up a completely unsafe position on my balcony, watching as lightening lit up the sky. Never bolts, just enormous flashes and far-off thunder.

Then suddenly, the wind whipped up trees two stories taller than the houses beneath them in a way that said nothing good could come out of such fierceness and a steady rain began to fall.

Two minutes later, the frenetic trees are completely still and the air is palpable. I hate a damp cold, but I relish a damp pre-storm heat.

Before long, a gentle rain began blowing toward my legs and face as I sat sprawled in an Adirondack chair facing the alley. Rain caught on the tendrils of moonflowers twining through the balcony railing, dripping onto my legs.

Sure, I was getting wet, but not soggy wet like yesterday when I decided to walk three miles to drop off rent. I got almost two miles in - I was right in front of Redskin Park with all the weekend fans watching the team grunt practice - when rain started and didn't let up, so I slogged on to my landlord's house, at that point, mainly to borrow an umbrella.

He graciously gave me one and I got two blocks up the street toward home when the rain stopped and the muggy sun returned to start drying out my clothes as I walked home.

By the way, carrying a cumbersome walking umbrella all the way. Grateful/not grateful.

No, tonight's rain was less direct so more enjoyable, even as the lightening and thunder got more and more distant, the temperature seemed to drop and sirens began wailing from a couple different directions.

Inside, without the waning visuals, the storm amounts to no more than the steady patter of rain broken up by the sound of cars on wet pavement and the relentless drip of gutters. It stops as suddenly as it began, kind of like the man dishing.

I may aspire to eat ham and jam and Spam a lot, but clearly there's no double dipping on musicals in one day. Mother Nature says no.

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