Sunday, November 20, 2016

Digging My Scene

What do the simple folk do on a Saturday night?

They plan to eat and partake of some death-related culture, but they also leave the ending open...just in case.

Pru and Beau picked me up not long after the sun set and our long-established banter began the moment I slammed the car door shut to escape the blustery wind that had replaced afternoon sun and warmth.

As our trio drove the short distance to the fake "town center" at Libbie Mill, we assumed our usual roles mocking and teasing each other in greeting.

"This is a dysfunctional relationship," Beau observed to neither of us in particular. "And yet we all stay," I reminded him.

Our obscenely early dinner reservation at Shagbark was required given that we had an 8:00 curtain, but it also ensured that we'd sit down in a lightly populated dining room that morphed to completely full by the time we walked out two plus hours later.

My first challenge was convincing my couple date that we wanted to drink Gavi, but doing so took both informational and anecdotal evidence.

Our server made a fine case for Gavi's strengths, but I think I finally won Beau over on the "persistent finish" (he seems to like his women the same way) and Pru when I shared that a favorite Brazilian chef drinks only red wine or Gavi (she's prone to taking a red wine drinker's opinion about a white) and a bottle soon appeared.

I got a kick seeing Morattico Creek oysters on the menu (my parents have lived in Morattico for three decades), so I told our server I had to represent with a plate of them, Tangiers and Seaside Salts to start. The Seasides were so large I almost couldn't fit one in my mouth, while the Tangiers had such a deep cup it was like they arrived in bowls.

Brown-butter basted jumbo sea scallops followed while Beau lapped up duck breast he dubbed the best duck he'd ever eaten and Pru swooned over grilled Outer Banks swordfish (set on a plate that resembled nothing so much as "The Flying Nun's" hat), mentioning to our server that it reminded her of fish she ate during summers at her family house in Rodanthe.

"We like when a table represents our food," our server joked approvingly of our waterside connections. Carrot cake of sorts (their moniker, not mine) delivered spice cake, carrot curd, rum raisins, salted caramel, cheesecake puree and praline for one of my rare non-chocolate finishes.

Tonight's play was Quill's "Assassins," a Stephen Sondheim musical I'd never even heard of, but which the director found eerily relevant when a certain major party candidate suggested to his deplorable audience that they take matters in their own hands should the other candidate win.

Some of the evening's funniest moments came courtesy of Matt Shofner's portrayal of Charles Guiteau (James' Garfield's assassin) with wild eyes, an over-the-top French accent and a dapper yellow-piped suit jacket as he spewed his character's unbridled enthusiasm.

Another laugh out loud moment arrived during intermission when a guy in the lobby caught the eye of Kenneth Putnam (playing Samuel Byck - the nut case who tried to run a plane into the Nixon White House - in a Santa Claus suit with a protest sign) and gave him the peace sign and shook his jowls side to side.

Just as hilarious a moment came when the two guys sitting next to me tried to return to their seats during intermission. I stood leaning against my raised seat to let them come through, but between my velvet pants and the velveteen covering on the seat itself, I slipped down into the seat completely unintentionally with a thud.

Pru and Beau, busy standing themselves and looking away from me, saw nothing.

But as the duo came by me, one grinned and whispered, "Real graceful!" about my unceremonious sit down. I immediately looked at him with new respect. In no time, he brought up similar problems with satin sheets (apparently the sliding factor is high) and shiny pajamas.

I don't start these oddball conversations, I just jump headfirst when invited.

When the disjointed play ended, the three of us headed east with no clue where we wanted to go to discuss what we'd just seen. The happy couple wanted caffeine, so we paused at Saison Market long enough for them to score coffee and then headed to my house to listen to music.

Knowing my audience, we started with the "Camelot" soundtrack, but not the lame movie version, but the Broadway dream cast with the dreamy 35-year old Richard Burton (how did I ever think he was an old king?), 25-year old Julie Andrews and an impossibly young-looking (27) and devastatingly handsome Robert Goulet.

I don't want to say I know my audience, but there was something for everyone: I adore the young man bravado of Lancelot's "C'est Moi," while Pru excels at the kind of female manipulation Guenevere sings of in "Take Me to the Fair" and I have no doubt that Beau subscribes to Arthur's advice on "How to Handle a Woman" sung in Burton's gravely voice of experience.

A couple of hours in - after we'd listened to the Blow Monkeys but before Art of Noise resulted in Beau's pithy comments about their distinctive sound - Beau went all serious on us, bringing up the possibility that we're watching a Facist come to power and questioning what one individual might be able to do about it.

Our mellows were harshed, but not inappropriately given the strange times we're living in, and we were back to cracking each other up before long.

When they finally stood up to leave, it hit us. In three hours of listening to music while discussing relationships, middle age and past life gaffes (how is it neither Pru nor I have ever dated a Jewish man?), we'd yet to touch on the play we'd seen, ostensibly the reason for our post-theater get-together.

It was 1:30 and we were a solid nine hours into our date, but everyone sat back down, I put on some soothing Jackson Browne and we re-opened the conversation to dissect the play in depth. That we got off on a tangent about tufted walls and put Beau through a complementary colors learning session was gravy.

And that's what simple folk do. So I'm told.

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