There are so many metaphors to be found in the goings-on of a busy Valentine's Day.
It's when your first "Happy Valentine's Day" comes from a stranger on Broad Street but is quickly followed by one from your walking companion who's already heard it from her honey.
Like today's soundtrack, whether my new Prince albums (home), classics like "Torn" and "Love is a Battlefield" (dinner) or the sweeping innuendo of James, which greeted me at the theater.
Got a dark heart for Valentine's Day? Looking to fill that empty space in your life with food? Come, be alone...together!
With the promise of angst-filled love/hate songs like "Don't Speak" and cheap food, it wasn't hard for a dark heart to be seduced by the Lonely Hearts pop-up mixer at Citizen, where I took the sole remaining bar stool directly in front of the kitchen and was immediately handed a bowl of spiced chickpeas.
Butternut tamales with mole and BBQ shrimp with bread for sopping smokey broth followed by flourless chocolate almond cake delivered satisfying sustenance while the kitchen provided the entertainment, succeeding at making me laugh a lot.
Whether touting the uses of tongs ("They just invented them!") or telling his assistant how best to start a pastry cone, the chef kept his suggestions terse. "If you have to force it, you're doing it wrong."
When I said, "That's what she said," my server was at my side in an instant, saying, "I'm glad it was you that said it." You're welcome.
When we touched on the loud, pulsing club vibe of District 5's Sunday brunch scene, the assistant pronounced the place a "UR bro scene," a subset of the collegiate population I disdain as much for the large purses and high-maintenance looking women as for their inability to parallel park.
Tonight's crowd was anything but.
Next to me was a guy who seemed to always be a dish or two ahead of me - but somehow managed to eat through $57 worth of food but barely drank, significant when everything was priced at $4, $5, and $6 - while marveling that I live without a cell phone.
'How can you do that?" he asked. Too general a question. Ask me specifics of how I do things, sir.Yet, he said he loved being overseas and not having a phone for the freedom it afforded him.
Interesting compartmentalization, right?
When I asked for my check, my server looked surprised. "You don't want to stay for the rest of the playlist?"
Kind of, sure, but I have tickets for a Valentine's Day show. Besides, as soon as I got in my car, "Love is for Lovers" came on and you can't do much better than the dbs for a soundtrack today.
James' "Laid" provided the soundtrack as I took a seat at the Comedy Coalition for "It's Complicated," an evening of sketch comedy done in a variety format, kind of like "Laugh In" with different recurring characters and scenes and new bits throughout.
Next to me was a comedic couple from Chicago who moved here two years ago and recently landed in Barton Heights, which they love for its easy access to everything. Behind me, I overheard some young comedic types kvetching. "Man, that goes all the way back to Belushi and Akyroid."
The way he said it, he could have just as easily said Abbott and Costello. Or Fred and Barney.
"Now when I go back and visit Chicago, I go to the Tower and cool shit, which I never did when I lived there. My family always just went to the museums," another voice says. Bummer of a childhood, dude.
"It's Complicated" ran the gamut of relationship issues from distasteful (daughter sings a song at parents' suburban cocktail party to tell them the neighbor's been abusing her) to film geeky (parents square off over the appropriateness of letting children watch "Star Wars" prequels) to topical (a duo tries out for a wedding gig but all their songs turn out to be activist songs - "But policy change brought us together!" the bride laments - so not exactly right for a reception).
A recurring bit involved two old broads, one with an eye patch, the other formerly married to a stuntman, at a bar drinking bloody Marys and ruminating on life. "As a child, I always wanted to be divorced," Eye Patch says. "I always wanted to be a widow. It's why I married a stuntman," the cigarette-smoking other says.
Some humor was overwhelmingly millennial, like a sketch about a guy's meticulous preparations to pop the question, only to have his girlfriend guess immediately and upset everything. When she runs roughshod over his speech about bower birds feathering a nest by calling her mother, he says, "Could you just stop? I've put a lot of work into this presentation."
He didn't want a trophy, just her attention.
In between sketches, there were commercials for "Scwartzman Diamonds, Cupid's Jeweler," focusing on inter-tribal warfare over diamond mining, stealing diamonds from tombs and other blood diamond concerns that always ended with a slow fade to a couple embracing and in love.
A dating game show called "You're Too Thirsty" ("thirsty" being a euphemism for "needy") involved three bachelors taking questions from a bachelorette about important relationship concerns such as how soon he would return a text, while another sketch had a nobleman falling in love with Alexa (and, yes, I know what Alexa is, smartypants) although he couldn't figure out why she didn't return his love.
Or answer his questions when he didn't say her name just right.
The three tenets of marriage - active listening, creativity and teamwork - were taught to a prospective son-in-law by the girl's vaguely psychotic Dad, who tested him with sports trivia, intruder scenarios and viable conspiracy theories.
One of which involved '60s musicians in Laurel Canyon with parents working for military intelligence and how they made music that created secret brain slaves to the Doors' Jim Morrison.
Confidentially, I think the Doors' Jim Morrison may have had enough overt sex slaves to preclude the need for any secret brain slaves, although it makes for a solid contender for a conversational heart: B MY SBS.
But it's Citizen who gets the award for most romantic. Each item of food was listed on the receipt as "Lonely Hearts," so you know they put a lot of work into that presentation.
If you have to force at laugh at that, you're doing Valentine's Day wrong.