Saturday, January 14, 2017

Post-Midnight City

As M83 would say, hurry up, we're dreaming.

Vorfreude aside, when an outing begins with the presumption that trouble will find you and ends on hold - not once but twice, mind you - someone's bound to describe it as a wonderful evening.

Even if it takes almost eight hours to reach that conclusion.

At Pasture for drinks and curry cauliflower, a wall map of the state's geology results in the devoted urban dweller being teased about being a devotee of Virginia's coastal plain and light-heartedly chided for not venturing to the western part of the state more often.

I say give me a reason and I'll get in the car.

With my back to a young woman at the bar, I overhear her bemoaning how she feels like a cougar ogling young male actors in movies. I can't let that go, so I whirl around and tell her to imagine how I feel at the movies admiring younger men.

"Yeah, but you've earned the right to do whatever you want!" she tells me, a perfect stranger. I lean in and assure her I already do anything I want without compunction.

"Ooh, can we hang out? Can I have your phone number? What's your name?" she eagerly asks, sounding for all the world like a fangirl of a middle aged woman. I'll take it, but only because there don't seem to be fanboys of the same.

The crowd at CentreStage for the Richmond Symphony's casual Friday concert is a decidedly different one than what you'd see at a Masterworks concert: more diverse in age and race and many, many decibels louder as people take their seats and chatter.

In what has to be the bossiest thing I've yet to hear out of my ultra-polite companion's mouth, he commands me, "Move!" when yet another couple arrives at the end of row O, where we're seated. It's not that we mind getting up to allow late arrivals in, it's just easier for them not to have to climb over us.

This is not an agile crowd.

I silently nickname him Bossy Boots, moving over and rearranging. A tiny piece of paper flutters out of the side pocket of my purse - a fortune from a cookie eaten my first night in San Francisco last month.

Investigate new possibilities with friends. Now is the time!

Now BB really had something to chuckle about while I look around, noting other differences from a usual symphony performance, like the lights not being lowered for the performance and that there's a host making his way through the orchestra section with a mic, warming up the crowd.

What was especially cool, though, was that Jacques Houtmann, who'd conducted the R-Symphony from 1971-86 (so right up until I arrived in Richmond) had been tapped to lead tonight's performance of Franck's "Symphony in D Minor," which we were told in his charmingly French-accented English was particularly significant for its use of English horns (a first) and that it was written in only three movements.

Easier to digest for casual audiences, one presumes.

The program described the piece as a "cathedral of sound," which is sort of what I strive for in my living room with my turntable cranked to loud, but this was a different sort of cathedral. And while it wasn't an uplifting piece, I'm not about to complain about any aspect of starting my night surrounded by classical musicians playing.

Back on the pavement, we needed sustenance for more than the soul.

It was my first time in Maya, diagonally across from CentreStage, where I was immediately won over when I saw "tequileria" painted on the glass, found flights of tequila on the menu and heard a soundtrack playing loud enough to make things lively despite being isolated by a wall on the bar side.

I only had a bite, but his corn tamal with shrimp and scallops was stellar - sweet from corn and smoky from poblano - while my tilapia tacos suffered only for the pedestrian tortillas that cradled the fish, mango salsa, jicama, cabbage and jalapeno crema contents.

Libation-wise, my Espolon blanco won out hands down for how well it complemented both our dishes in a way that his COTU beer simply couldn't begin to match, for obvious reasons. Agave, tomatillo, poblano, hello?

Once sated, it was time to move on to my cathedral of sound for records, wine and a wide-ranging conversation that stayed fluid enough to take tangential tracks when a song lyric, a painting on my wall or a recounting of a conversation with mutual friends provoked something (the latter usually causing major laughter on his part).

I wish that I believed in fate
I wish I didn't sleep so late

Next thing you know, I'm listening to his defense of why he doesn't believe in fate, a point raised by the National's "Mr. November," a song about new blue-bloods and great white hopes. Perhaps he's both; I didn't inquire. I, on the other hand, made no defense for liking to sleep late.

I regaled him with stories from my recent past, including an evening with another friend who'd marveled at not having to "entertain" me after making me dinner because I was more than happy doing nothing more than conversing for pleasure and diversion.

We talked about people we know who are in it for the long game, despite the challenges. He explained the sonic reasons I need to ride my bike over the T Pot bridge. I let slip that I'm only 5'5", which is how he discovered I'm short.

Meanwhile, we listened to records: Lydia Loveless, Roxy Music, The National x 2, Arcade Fire, the XX.

The stars and the charts and the cards make sense
Only when we want them to
When I lie awake, staring into space
I see a different view

A tad long, but otherwise, I'd say that's practically fortune cookie material.

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