Sunday, February 12, 2017

Resistance is Futile

Where better to discuss 45's latest embarrassment than on the way to Colonial Heights?

If I'm not mistaken, the round table discussion (or should that be rectangular car discussion?) got off the ground because of the awkward bully handshake he's been thrusting at world leaders lately by refusing to let go, but moved on to hanging up on the leader of the easiest-going nation around before we found a way to name it.

The consensus was that these past three weeks have given new meaning to the term "mind-boggling," spurring the backseat to relate it to shaken baby syndrome - boggled adult syndrome. It may not be contagious but it's clearly widespread.

And each of us deals with it in our own way.

I go out with friends and do things I enjoy as a way of banking good memories for the dark days when the regime's control is complete and such things are no longer possible.

It hurts my optimist's heart to write such things, but there it is.

What our quartet hadn't counted on when making plans for tonight was that for some lovers and would-be wooers, tonight was the main event because Valentine's Day falls on a school night, making our four-top stand out in a room full of couples dining at Chez Foushee.

Or maybe they thought we were swingers. We're not.

"I can personally vouch for the Sancerre," the Francophile noted and no one was going to argue with a personal recommendation.

In what has to be one of the most unexpected dishes on a Valentine's Day specials menu, fried chicken livers were right there next to a far more quotidian sauced fillet mignon with crabcake blah, blah, blah.

You can be damn sure the livers came to our table, along with multiple bowls of a sublime parsnip bisque heavily stocked with wild mushrooms, a platter of broiled local oysters under a mounding sauce of parsley, bread crumbs, butter and Pernod and - because it's irresistible and no one was offering to share - multiple brussels sprouts salads laden with candied walnuts, Bleu cheese, pickled red onions and swimming in red wine vinaigrette.

I told the group that chicken livers always took me back to Barbados because I'd over-indulged in them on my first night on the island and now the two are inextricably linked in my memory. Turns out one at our table calls Barbados his favorite Caribbean island, so he opened up the conversation by soliciting my opinion, which pretty much matched his for all the same reasons.

Over dinner, the word geek squad (all of us, really) went down the linguistic rabbit hole trying to figure out why, if vegetables can be cruciferous, do we call raw vegetables crudites? Shouldn't the root word be the same, making them crucites instead?

Legalities cropped up when the doting boyfriend told me that if, god forbid, his intended should vacate this mortal coil, he would be incapable of sorting through her bedroom so it would fall to me to sort through everything in her inner sanctum.

Well, of course I agreed to be executor of her bedroom, even before she sweetened the deal, saying, "You'll have to imagine me telling you from the beyond how cute you look in certain of my outfits so you should take them for yourself. You should bring a suitcase, wait, you can just take mine."

Shoe fetishes and dressing room etiquette were discussed over four supremely decadent desserts and I'm ashamed to say I was in the two-person minority who couldn't finish theirs, although I'm convinced that the sticky toffee puddings weren't nearly as dense as the double chocolate mousse tarts with praline sauce the rest of us had attempted.

Dessert failures always have an excuse, don't we?

We left behind couples still celebrating romance and staring into each other's eyes to trek to Swift Creek Mill Theater to see "Deathtrap" because sometimes murder is the result of love we had tickets.

Director Tom Width began the evening by telling us that when Swift Creek last produced "Deathtrap" in 1989, ambulances had to be called twice (no one died, mercifully) and once the ice bucket onstage was appropriated so a female in the audience could barf into it.

Small wonder they wanted to produce it again.

Except, of course, that we're no longer the sensitive souls we were in the late '80s, having upped our tolerance for dishonesty, hypocrisy and breaking the law significantly since then. The past three weeks alone have helped immeasurably with that.

I immediately recognized the playwright's name, Ira Levin, because of his book "The Stepford Wives," which, like every other feminist-minded woman with a reading list, I'd devoured and reviled for its misogynist themes.

But "Deathtrap," a one set, five character thriller, I wasn't familiar with.

Which turned out to be a lucky break for me because I was completely sucked in by the plot, of which I had no knowledge. Hell, I was so enmeshed in the thriller thread, we were halfway through before I recognized the gay theme.

Even better, it was written in 1978, making it chock full of dated references a millennial might have to go home and Google, like the Merv Griffin Show, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon or fear of obscene phone calls.

Meanwhile characters mentioned Women's Lib, middle aged suburbanites talked about "smoking grass at a party," writers debated manual versus electric typewriters and someone was derisively accused of "preaching" ecology.

Maybe they were preaching it because they worried that one day there'd be ecological imbeciles denying climate change.

Perhaps most tellingly, the biggest issues were changing cultural norms. "I know what gay means! Elizabeth told me!" or "Everybody's opening up about everything these days!" sounded positively archaic to modern ears.

Positively modern to archaic ears, on the other hand, is when you stand up to leave for the loo and are told that while they hate to see you go, they love to watch you walk away. Their fulsome appreciation didn't fool me, I knew it was the Berlin tights.

Everybody opens up about everything these days. I'm just enjoying it now before 45 bans that, too.

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