Thursday, December 8, 2016

And We're There

While it wouldn't be fittin' not to tie dinner to the evening's entertainment, we proved that anything goes afterward.

Waiting to be scooped up by friends, I admired the remains of my garden, still amazingly colorful in December despite the recent spate of cold weather while noticing that the birdbath was filled to the brim after yesterday's day-long deluge.

I don't want to brag (nor do I deserve to given how long it's been since I gave my handkerchief-sized garden any attention), but interspersed with ferns and Gerbera daisies still surprisingly lush were blooms of all kinds: pink dianthus, fuchsia snapdragons, pink and white geraniums, purple and pink vinca, miniature lavender petunias, one pale pink blossom on the clematis hybrid that looks like a dahlia and hips galore on the pale pink miniature rosebush.

Considering I saw footage of snow falling on the Japanese Garden in Portland today, the colorful array felt like a near-winter gift.

Taking a cue from tonight's film, ours was a southern-themed evening, beginning in the understated brown and taupe interior of Spoonbread Bistro, where the flatware is golden and the vibe is luxe.

Pru and Beau faced me in a booth that sequestered us away from the restaurant's activity, while I grilled our server about the origins of her name, correctly having guessed her parents were inspired by a flame-haired movie star.

The subject of not responding to a person's texts came up (clearly not in reference to moi), with Beau mentioning one sent today to Pru, who'd been too busy to answer. My question was, if a compliment falls on a tart's ears and she fails to acknowledge it, did the text even happen?


The amuse bouche was a blue crab arancini, setting the meal's decadent tone from that first perfect bite.

What followed only got more obscene. As proof, I give you exhibits A) a lobster "Pop Tart" with Hollandaise sauce for icing, B) shrimp scampi with possibly the creamiest Cheddar grits I've ever swallowed, surrounded by chunky tomato "fondue," C) Cesar salad that tasted like the dressing had been made tableside it was so freshly egg-y, and D) scallops over caramel corn pudding with applewood bacon drizzle.

And that's just what I ate, never mind the sea bass Beau inhaled or the foie gras and spoonbread with Smithfield ham that Pru managed to disappear with not a bit of  assistance from us.

As she took the last succulent bite, she looked at us with only mild regret and said, "To be honest, I wanted to share with you two, but I literally could not stop myself from eating it all."

Luckily, Beau and I are not the judgmental types. But when she pronounced having had "an elegant sufficiency" and they both opted for coffee over dessert, I alone was left to order tonight's dessert special, a Gran Marnier chocolate mousse.

Just for the record, both their golden demitasse spoons touched down in my mousse more than once, despite earlier assurances that they had no room for sweets.

Tonight's conversation was particularly notable because it was the first in the two years of our three-way friendship that Beau actually heard it all.

After years of missing out due to ears damaged by heavy machinery when he was in the Navy, and despite being a man (so stubborn for no good reason), he'd gotten corrective devices so he could stop reading lips (only a slight exaggeration), a challenge given that  Pru and I talk a lot (both loudly and sotto voice) and he used to miss 85% of it.

No more. In fact, when I commented early on in the meal that he could finally hear us, he smirked and said, "I've already turned the volume down on you. You two are loud."

What his new hearing aids mean is that now when we ask him something, we needn't repeat ourselves. So it was that when Pru was discussing with him who he should conjure when mulling how to handle a situation, she asked who he admired and he came up immediately with Cary Grant.

"So do or say what Cary Grant would do or say," she explained, a point that somehow led to him admitting that if push came to shove and if he were to swing both ways, he'd have little problem swinging with Cary Grant.

The things you learn once everyone can hear the conversation clearly.

Walking out of Spoonbread feeling full as ticks and fully indulged, Pru turns to me and asks, "Remember the Jefferson?"

It took me a moment to get her drift, namely a long-ago December night as we were leaving Lemaire when she'd "appropriated" a poinsettia or two on our way out.

As I mentioned, I try not to judge but I know I left Spoonbread's poinsettia sitting on the table as we exited, stage right.

This month's classic film at the Byrd was "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," a film that is as much about looking at two superior physical specimens - 26-year old Elizabeth Taylor and 33-year old Paul Newman - as it is about a dysfunctional southern family, especially in a Hollywood adaptation that all but scrubbed the homo-erotic elements from Tennessee Williams' script.

I wouldn't have even thought that was possible. Ditto the seemingly innocuous subject of the Sweet Tarts Beau was enjoying devolving into taking vitamins and minerals, which somehow led to the inner workings of Beau's, er, plumbing before, as Pru so eloquently put it, "And we're there."

TMI, that's all I'm going to say. Fortunately, the movie began.

Why is it so damn hard for people to talk?

Praise be that the film at least kept the setting, a stately house with screen doors opening to the veranda from second floor bedrooms cooled by constantly whirring ceiling fans. You could almost feel the humidity plucking on everyone's last nerve.

A drinking man's someone who wants to forget he isn't still young and believing.

Although I've seen "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" produced as a play multiple times, I'd never seen the 1958 movie version (shh, I didn't tell Pru so she wouldn't give me crap about it), so I was pleasantly surprised at the strong performances of everyone involved - scenery was chewed with real skill - although I was ready to smother those annoying child actors every time they came on screen.

Ain't nothin' more powerful than the odor of mendacity.

After leaving the Byrd, I suggested a nightcap and film discussion but was voted down because Herself was tired, at least for the first block we drove east, but suddenly she reconsidered.

Our southern theme went out the window as easily as cigarette ashes, but now at least she was up for anything.

In no time, we were at the bar at Amour, complimenting the owner's new goatee, drinking and swooning over digestifs of Plantation Barbados 5 Year Rum aged in French cognac barrels and taking topics from all four participants.

Sure, some people want to dish about annoying foodies, but others only want to covet swing coats and plan pre-concert parties. To each his own.

We covered a mutual friend's Studio 54-themed party, a planned trip to Antibes next summer, a formerly gawky teen morphing into a handsome young man aboard a yacht (with photos) and Pru's hippie chick Mom recently dying her hair green.

Digressions included Trump's excellent Blanc de Blanc, the grace notes of Willamette Valley wine and tastes of the latest Beaujolais Nouveau.

Marveling at the number of years Amour's been open, Pru wanted to say that she'd visited it first, but the owner corrected her and I won that round.

Not that I hadn't already had dessert, but since my partners in crime had not, we over-indulged in chocolate sea salt caramel creme brulee, followed by the wonder of Beaujolais Nouveau sorbet (hints of orange on the front, anise on the finish), just the kind of delight you'd only get at Amour.

In the blink of an eye, three hours were gone and Beau had some wee concerns about his meetings tomorrow, so we thanked our host and departed.

This time, it took less than a block to realize that we'd not uttered a single word of discussion about the film, ostensibly the point of a third stop.

'We're done. There will be no do-overs tonight!" Pru announced firmly as Beau wisely kept the car moving eastward, knowing we'd made the same gaffe another time and then spent another full hour finally having the discussion we'd lost sight of.

The real question is, what would Cary Grant have done? Go home after a mere seven hours together?

Not likely. As I always say, ain't nothin' more powerful than conversations not shared.

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