Thursday, November 17, 2016

Well in the Present

No doubt about it, we're in the home stretch for November.

Walking by the front of Kroger yesterday - it's 63 degrees, sunny and I'm wearing shorts, mind you - I see employees untying Christmas trees. When I make a comment about it being a tad early, the manager-looking one cracks, "Yea, they're Thanksgiving trees!"


Tonight I drive out to the boondocks Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen for the On the Air Radio Players' "Turkeys on the Radio" live radio show.

Walking in, the receptionist looks at my outfit and says, "You look like you're from the '80s. I like it!" As I pass by, she calls out, "Rock on!" which is always my intent anyway.

The audience was scattered all throughout the November Theatre (yes, there are November Theatres in every nook and cranny of this town), but I was surprised that as many times as I've been there for these radio shows over the years, this was the first time I'd ever seen someone I know there.

Unfortunately, it was also the first time anyone was foolish enough to bring a toddler who squawked throughout or that someone forgot to turn their cell phone off, meaning the live recording now includes an anachronistic ring tone midway through (something the director usually warns against but he was a first-timer and forgot).

As is only right, both tonight's radio plays had Thanksgiving themes.

1950's "Our Miss Brooks: Thanksgiving Turkey" was about how Miss Brooks tried to plot to get her favorite single man to invite her to turkey dinner (even if she had to pay the $1.50 for her own meal), a dilemma that involved buying a live turkey to save money and then catching it once it got loose in the house.

Favorite line: "Live well in the present. The future ain't never done nothin' for nobody!"

1942's "The Great Gildersleeve: Thanksgiving" was obviously a wartime story with references to gas applications, food shortages and the Ration Board. In it, ten-year old Leroy worried about looking like a sissy in his Pilgrim costume for the school production of "The Courtship of Miles Standish" and cracked  a Longfellow joke.

They sure don't make 10-year olds like they used to.

Along the way, the cast did singing commercials for Colgate, Luster Cream shampoo and Parkay margarine, touting it as "a nourishing energy food with Vitamin A, wholesome and economical." They left out the awful tasting part, but in wartime, I guess you take what you can get.

Maybe most interesting to me were the frequent references to having ham for Thanksgiving instead of turkey, a tradition I've never even heard of. Ham for Christmas or Easter, both ham and turkey for those holidays, but just ham on Thanksgiving? Not in my lifetime.

I've long been a fan of OTARP's shows for the glimpse they offer into a time I didn't know - as well as for watching the machinations of a radio play - not to mention the appealing corniness of the commercials. Although tonight's cast had more than their share of muffed lines and lost places in the script, it was still more than worth the price of admission.

But after an hour in the county, I was ready to return to the city for another November tradition: the Cru Beaujolais tasting followed by the post-midnight unveiling of the Beaujolais Nouveau at Amour.

Except, unlike my friend Holmes, I'm not much of a fan of the young, fruity wine, so it was enough to join the regulars at the bar, enjoy a warming bowl of French onion soup and marvel at my first white Beaujolais, Domaine des Nugues Blanc, a lovely acidic wine with a distinct honey taste.

"This would be wonderful with lobster," one of the regulars commented. "Perfect for New Year's Eve. Except we'll probably be here." The owner smiled. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see lobster with this wine on his menu come December 31st.

A woman came in to, as she put it, "drink her dessert" while her son finished up a game of Dungeons and Dragons nearby, so of course we invited her to join our conversation. A New Jersey transplant, she was already madly in love with Richmond after only two years.

When she left to collect her son, it was with regret about leaving our lively political discussion, but she also assured us she'd be back next Wednesday, should we want to further it.

As the hour got later, but still pre-midnight, the many bottles of Cru Beaujolais clustered at the end of the bar were opened as more people arrived looking for their November fix.

After pouring wine in several glasses, the owner stood by the bar, holding the neck of the bottle, whether guarding it or ready to pour more, I can't say for sure.

A female guest looked at his stance and joked, "I work out and I could just grab that bottle from you and run!"

"Grab a wine bottle? Not from a Frenchman!" he responded. Acknowledging the French lock on wine, she didn't bother trying. Meanwhile, I discussed piano moving with an expert - a man who'd moved his three pianos six times - amazed at how many ways there are to move such large objects.

For the first time in years, I didn't stay for the uncorking of the Nouveau (it was a short night last night), instead abdicating my bar stool to a later arrival once I heard there were a dozen reservations on the books for midnight, which was minutes away.

And so November rocks on.

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