Thursday, June 8, 2017

Lookin' for Adventure

It was a day for relaxin' with the womenfolk and then showing a gent around.

Pru, her boho-clad Mom and I had made a date last week to lunch at Merroir for a reprise of our "ladies-who-lunch" extravaganza, meaning all of us had been eagerly looking forward to it.

When the weather forecast showed that it would be a cloudy, breezy and cool afternoon, Pru got nervous. Me? I interpreted those conditions as prime beach weather and looked forward to not having to slather on sunscreen for our al fresco meal.

"You and your silver linings," she always chides me. Yea, aren't they great?

The trip there, as always, delights with that bucolic, small town Northern Neck charm that announces you are heading toward a body of water. It's not just the flat landscape - her Mom, a Rodanthe native, likened it to Currituck and I could see the comparison - but the softness of the air as you get closer to the river.

With an hour's drive, we had plenty of time for chatter about non-assertive men, being gas-lit and how people change because of what life hands them. Pru tried to label us by saying, "We are some hard, jaded, bitter women," but I disagreed.

We are some experienced, cautious, complex women if you ask me.

We were also far from the only people who'd wanted a riverside lunch despite the forecast, although we did choose to eat on the porch rather than out in the open air. Fortunately, the "windows" of the plastic porch enclosure were rolled up on the marina side and the front door facing the river was open, so we had all the smells and occasional errant breezes but without getting chilly.

The food, as always, was second only to the view.

When our server asked if we wanted un-spiced or spicy steamed shrimp, she looked to Pru for an answer. I immediately did my best impression of spicy, which unexpectedly involved jazz hands and a vibrating body that the server found hilarious.

In fact, I may have over-vibrated since there was so much spice on the shrimp and accompanying vegetables (onions, celery, red pepper) that our mouths were soon on fire. Meanwhile I polished off a dozen Old Saltes and probably the best bowl of crab and vegetable soup I've ever slurped.

There were also angels on horseback, a stuffin' muffin and grilled shrimp to round out the meal on the porch. The sky was just as cloudy and the air just as beachy when we reluctantly hit the road for Richmond, making a stop at Norman's produce just long enough to score vegetables and hanging baskets of petunias for Pru's Church Hill manse.

"Are you sure you don't need some vegetables?" she asked. "Don't you ever cook at home?" Have we met?

And, yes, I make oatmeal every morning.

Back at home, I had enough time to answer a few emails before heading out for a walk that would take me to my evening's plans and provide the walk I hadn't had time for because of my lunch plans.

Unexpectedly, I had company.

Barely two blocks from home, a girl walking a bike joined me at a corner and we began talking. In Richmond a year after growing up in Roanoke, she's an anthropology major who knows she wants to work outside. Except she might want to do something else, she admitted guiltily.

As we crossed Broad Street and headed down Grace Street toward her boyfriend's apartment and my plans at Secco, we talked about a woman's range. She said she felt like her interests were so wide and she had no idea how to begin to narrow them down to figure out who she is and what she wants.

I may have made her day when I shared my age and that I'm still narrowing my range and figuring out who I am and what I want. When she admitted that she's often quiet in group conversations, she said it was because she was eager to hear other, more knowledgeable people's thoughts to help her form her own opinion.

I couldn't help but assure her that the older she gets, the more comfortable she'll be with what she thinks and likely lose that hesitation about speaking out. Opinions form themselves as you navigate the pleasures and perils of life.

When we parted, I told her I couldn't have asked for a better companion for my walk and she thanked me for the wisdom.

I was meeting a friend who'd been to Sicily a few years back and swore he hadn't been able to find Sicilian wine in Richmond since returning. Always happy to take on a challenge, I'd suggest meeting at Secco to see what it offered up.

One Sicilian red, but since we were looking for something a bit lighter, we wound up drinking a Basque Rose, mainly because he'd never heard of Basque wine, much less had any. Wait, there's more: he hadn't had a Rose before.

Intervention was essential.

The slightly spritzy Ameztoi Txakolina Rubentis not only brought him into the Rose fold, but did so with zippy notes of mineral and red fruit. It was a gorgeous pairing with smoked arctic char bruschetta and roasted asparagus with a crusted egg, its yolk oozing richness over every bit of green.

We finished the bottle with just enough time to stroll over to the Byrd to see a film that had already aroused the envy of everyone on Secco's staff who had to work tonight: 1969's "Easy Rider."

My friend had not only never seen it start to finish (my one and only viewing had been at Capital Ale House a lifetime ago back in 2010) but it had been one of the first two albums he'd bought with his own money.

In other words, it was inexcusable that he'd never sat through it.

From the footage of Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans (which might as well have been newsreel footage for how fascinating a glimpse into what the parade used to be it was) to the masterful use of existing music rather than a true soundtrack (can you ever have too much Roger McGuinn?), we were both completely sucked in to the late '60s with Captain America and Billy as they encountered hippie communes, free love and a whole lot of bad attitudes about nothing more than long hair.

We took our post-film discussion to the Gypsy Room so as to have the accompanying musical stylings of the Mikiyas Negussie Trio - jazz guitar, upright bass, drums - with more Rose education for him in the form of glasses of La Galope Rose.

We'd barely settled on the couch when my friend commented on the beautiful tone of Negussie's guitar, but soon corrected himself to acknowledge that it was as much about the young trio's talent as the instruments.

And although he'd played the room before as a musician, this was his first time hearing a show there and was inordinately pleased at the room's sound. The low-lit vibe and three sets of music, the final with a sax player sitting in, didn't hurt either.

Cultural lapses corrected? Check. Rose education begun? Check. Great company morning 'till night? Check.

Captain America may have put it best: "I'm hip about time." I like to think I am, too, especially when using it like I did today to store up especially satisfying interludes for those times when things are not so pleasurable.

Just another deposit of good times in the bank of life. Ya dig?

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