Life is a sunny Saturday with cake at the end.
My morning can be summed up as the epitome of soulful spring in Jackson Ward: a guy on Marshall Street washing a car with "Girl, I Wanna Shake You Down" blaring as I walked by. Another was driving down Clay Street with all his car windows down blasting Bill Withers' "Use Me Up." All my apartment windows open so I could share Donny Hathaway with the neighbors, too.
My afternoon took me to the Bijou, past a guy on Broad Street who inquired if he hadn't just seen me at Kroger, proving that some people pay far more attention to their fellow shoppers than I do.
The film that lured me inside on a gorgeous spring day was "Neruda," a biopic ostensibly about a communist poet going underground when communism was outlawed, but actually more of a poetic dream that allowed the director to take us on a journey through brothels and political meetings, orgies and snow-covered mountains as a driven policeman makes it his mission to find the poet.
To write well, one must know how to erase. ~ Neruda
Weird, but utterly entrancing and sometimes as enigmatic as poetry can be, it was a film that left the small crowd - including a musician there on what she called a "lady date" with a girlfriend - dazzled with the beauty of its cinematography and the sheer pleasure of watching the story of how a talented man indulged his every whim, with little regard for consequence but laser-focused desire on seeking out his own stimulation, whether physical, intellectual or emotional.
My evening began at Pru's manse on Church Hill with bubbly on the screened porch before dodging the green-clad masses of the Church Hill Irish Festival to make it down to the Slip and Bistro Bobette for a proper French birthday celebration meal in her honor.
Actually, feast might be a better word because of everything that landed on our table, was Hoovered up and whisked away by our young server, who quietly informed us that not only was it his first night there but we were his first table.
We promised to be gentle.
Out first were bowls of cream of asparagus soup, a cheese and charcuterie plate and ahi tuna tartare, followed by monkfish medallions, two kinds of beef including beef wellington for the birthday girl, and, for me a special of scallops with celery root galette with roasted garlic crema, all washed down with a Sancerre recommended by the barkeep who greeted us with hugs and the intel that a good friend of mine was downstairs at a private dinner.
When I felt a tap on my shoulder, I turned to find said friend looming over me, and soon chiding me for not responding to his recent email, one which I'd mistaken for a mass email (it wasn't, apparently). Still, it was wonderful to see him.
And while I heard two Grand Marnier souffles being ordered, I missed out entirely by heading to the loo, where I ran into friends along the way and chatted a bit too long, returning to see empty plates. It mattered not because we were heading back to the manse for dark chocolate cake with ganache (lovingly made by Beau), and far more my dessert speed anyway.
That the evening was so beautifully temperate ensured that we all set up camp on the candlelit porch again, this time for bubbles, birthday cake and present-opening, a highlight being the exquisite absinthe fountain Beau had bought for his beloved. As much artful as functional, the winged woman holding up the glass reservoir with four taps exuded feminine energy and was a thing of beauty at the same time.
In the interest of testing out the new apparatus - and the new wormwood leaf-shaped absinthe spoons - Beau filled it with ice water and we all set our taps to drip over the Granddaddy of absinthes, Vieux Pontalier, mine being the slowest by far because of how much I enjoy the lead-up to the arrival of the green fairy.
Once she'd arrived, conversation reached new levels. On the subject of a former boyfriend who'd told me he dreamt of eating my belly for dinner once I'd gone to the other side, Pru observed, "Other cities donate their bodies to science, but in Richmond, we donate ours to local chefs."
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Beau took issue when we pointed out his tendency to titter, claiming he was actually guffawing (as if), finally agreeing that he perhaps did giggle a bit. Neither Pru not I saw that as preferable. "Neither a titterer nor a giggler be," he quipped.
Impossible, we discovered, when you find yourself at an eight-hour birthday soiree. To party well, one must know how to go where the green fairy takes you. Preferably, without tittering.