Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tell-All Tuesdays

Tinder Tuesdays aside, usually you have to go on a first date to get asked that many questions.

Instead, it was a solo night out.

Waiting at a stoplight en route, a gaggle of, yes, children (there really is no other word for them based on looks) crossed in front of me looking clueless and equal parts excited and terrified. Then I caught a glance at the back of one's t-shirt: VCU Class of 2020.

Well, now, that explains why they look like they need burp cloths.

My soundtrack for the drive over was "Best Kept Secret" by Case, Lang, Veirs, a harmony-fest as sunny and soul-soothing as the beautiful summer weather outside.

It's times such as that that you realize that the music randomly playing really is nothing more than the soundtrack to your life (cue long shoot from above).

Walking to Balliceaux after parking the car safely out of the parking nazis' purview, I had the pleasure of hearing before I saw him, a guy on a bike pedaling into the sun, a smile on his face as he whistled a song, not just loudly, but really well.

Already it was a good night. With a plan to park once and party thrice, I had some basic goals: eat, celebrate National Rum Day with a cocktail and hopefully get some laughs with Back Room Comedy. Modest intentions, really.

I may have confused the bartender a tad by wanting my food - caramelized boneless chicken thigh atop a forest of pickled cabbage - before my drink, but she played along as if she understood.

Just as I was starting to eat, the couple next to me took an interest in me and began chatting.

In that way that friendly strangers do, we began by talking about generalities - why wasn't Kampot busier, the pleasures of being able to walk out your door and have multiple worthy restaurants nearby, how it sometimes feels like you're always the oldest people at a venue - and soon found commonalities.

They live on Floyd Avenue and I did the same for 13 years. They feel perfectly safe walking around at night, as do I. We agreed that porches make great neighbors but also ideal perches for watching street theater unfold (including middle-aged people stumbling drunkenly down the sidewalk).

Honestly, I got so engrossed in our conversation about all the stuff that goes on in Richmond and how I (or anyone) finds out about it that I almost forgot to order my drink and what kind of a way is that to celebrate National Rum Day?

I found my party in a glass with a Billie Holiday in Cambodia made of Plantation 5-year rum, tamarind, palm sugar and fish sauce (Mac, are you listening? It's everywhere!) with a kaffir leaf floating on top like a dead frog in a pool skimmer basket. Except tastier, much tastier.

He was a builder and they were both real estate agents (although she admitted it with downcast eyes and a side glance that was pretty funny) but her curiosity revolved around my work, leading to stories from my past covering legal sex harassment, how I found my spirit liquor at a job interview and why a future mayoral candidate would want me to tell people what to do.

Seriously, those are stories that usually get trotted out on first dates.

Not wanting to scare them off, I neglected to mention my biggest eccentricities, thus avoiding the whole "Karen is so odd" conversation while we're still in the honeymoon phase of our budding relationship.

Things got eerie twice, once when we were talking about same sex families (they had three boys and I grew up with five sisters) and I told a story using the name "Cindy," which, oddly enough, turned out to be her name.

Just as surprising to me was when, apropos of nothing, she asked me if I blogged and while that wasn't an unusual question circa 2009 or 10, I do find it odd now that Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have replaced blogging in the hearts of device-carrying people, namely the entire first world except me.

Why, yes, thank you, I do blog, have blogged for close to nine years now, both for journaling purposes and as writing exercise.

Do I intend to write a book with so much material, she wondered. Why would I not might be a better question.

And like any good first date prospect, I answered all the queries about who I am, where I live, what I do and where I like to go. When pressed about my weekend plans, I shared Friday's, genuinely excited to entice new friends to see two favorite musicians playing a show together.

Especially new friends who like to talk.

Since my original intention had been to see stand-up and they were long since finished eating, we parted ways with all kinds of new information about former strangers. Cindy and I both speak very quickly and eschew clothing for sleeping, for instance. Her husband and I share a passion for tequila and hearing compromised by too many loud shows and no regrets about it.

By that estimation, the three of us are practically a match made in heaven.

Things almost got dicey when I let slip that I sleep nine hours a night and Cindy looked at me like I'd grown two heads. According to her husband, it's all that stressing out at 3 a.m. that keeps her from the same, a bad habit he long since left behind since there's no gain to it.

In the back room, I was solo again and had missed some of the comedians, but had no problem finding a good seat with a table and a view for the next one up, Winston.

Talking about adult children living with their parents, he immediately pulled me in by joking about his people, "The millennial plan is to live at home until you inherit it." Hilarious.

Having problems with a heckler seated with three young giggling women, he observed, "He doesn't need a $3 rail drink, he needs a $30 Uber back to his apartment. Alone." More tittering from the peanut gallery, who may or may not have been there because it was Tinder Tuesday.

John came next and jumped right into his foot fetish and sucking big toes, although a poll of the room proved that most men didn't share his attraction to feet. He was having trouble getting a stronghold with the audience.

"I like you guys," he told the room. "You have a very humbling response." Sometimes impassive faces and no laughter really do tell the whole story.

Cory was next, riffing on whatever his gaze landed upon. Balliceaux's name ("I thought it was "Ball o' cocks"), decor ("They got the theme for this place from, what, Noah's ark?") and ordinary signage ("That fire exit sign says no smoking or drinking in the alley, but the only things people do in alleys is smoke and drink. Occasionally kill people").

Instead of a heckler, he had a couple at the bar - although the guy came from the same Tinder table as the heckler - who were talking loudly non-stop through his set.

He tried calling them out but they didn't hear him for their conversation. Naturally he began mocking them and specifically, the guy's flip-flops and sleeveless shirt ensemble.  It was funny stuff.

The show's last segment involved John and Cory facing off on topics called out by the audience, which is apparently what they do on their podcast. Pro wrestling! This killer heat! Chain saws! Sandwiches!

"Sandwiches need to be talked about," John announced, making a case for square cut sandwiches over diagonally cut ones. A poll of the room revealed a distinct preference for diagonal.

"I have taken sandwiches back to WaWa because they were cut diagonally," John said, causing Cory to roll his eyes and end the topic.

It got even funnier when John began talking about trying to buy a chainsaw to take down a bush in the backyard of his newly purchased house. When he couldn't decide on the proper chain saw, he decided to go with an ax, a terribly challenging endeavor he discovered.

"Now that's something that needs to be live-streamed on YouTube," Cory insisted, trying to hold back laughter. "A black man chopping down a bush with an ax. You know that would've gone viral!"

Before it was all over, I (and apparently more than a few others in the room) had learned that lingerie football is a thing and so are trampolines in the Olympics.

Looking as aghast as I felt, Cory responded to that bit of news with, "Then there's hope for everyone now."

Everyone? I'm still holding out for an Olympic talking event. It's my only chance at a gold.

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