Saturday, March 14, 2015

All Manners

I may not be a lesbian, but I can play one for an evening.

That said, it was a man who picked me up, albeit one who brought along the apple of his eye and her mother for an evening of food and frivolity.

Although I usually assert my alpha female side and am the one doing the picking up, it seemed silly for me to play driver when our destination was Max's on Broad, four blocks away from me.

Thank goodness we had a reservation at Max's because with "Chicago" playing tonight at the Mosque Landmark Altria theater, the place was a zoo and we had a curtain to make.

Fortunately, our server was the deep-voiced Russell, himself an actor and singer (Mom: "I bet he's a bass"), and a master at ensuring swift and seamless food delivery in the service of making a play.

Approving our choice of a Gamay, he had the bottle out in a flash. It doesn't hurt that he's quick-witted, too. When I dithered over choosing dinner, he quipped, "We have some quiche in the back if that's what you're in the mood for."

While I didn't avail myself of it, I probably should have since I'm not sure I'll ever look at quiche the same after what I witnessed tonight. And I've been eating a lot of quiche in the past few months.

We had a front window table so I had a view of the valets as they appropriated SUVs from people with a distinctive Richmond look, or at least that's what Pru's Mom, a recent transplant back to Richmond, saw. More precisely, a lot of people had a West End look, if you know what I mean.

Our meal began with all kinds of delicacies - foie gras in truffle oil, a cheese plate complete with Tallegio and figs (so right up my alley) among other delights, and beef carpaccio with shaved Parmesan - and everyone's forks eventually making it to each plate for a sampling.

The big news at the table was about the elegant and light-filled house that's just been purchased in Church Hill, the one that'll change Pru from a long-time Fan resident to a Hill denizen. Looking at a brochure about the house, it's safe to say they found a beaut.

While Pru and her date talked about his bad habits, her Mom and I went deeper, sharing our theories on karma and paying life forward. She's a delightful woman and I can see how she could have produced my offbeat and interesting friend.

Things got very quiet at the table when our entrees arrived. Pru raved about her rockfish, but I was too busy devouring my curry chicken salad and mesclun to taste it. But I did score bites of Mom's short rib ravioli in tomato cream sauce which was decadent and meaty while the lone male in the bow tie scored highest with juicy quail.

Behind us was a Last Supper-worthy length table with over a dozen people celebrating something, making it difficult for our little four-top to hear each other except when one of them was making a toast.

When we had a moment, I heard about Pru and her Mom's upcoming trip to Europe. They came home this week to a package from the Orient Express containing luggage tags, a list of stops, a journal and other accouterments sent to upcoming passengers of the legendary train.

I wasn't the least taken aback to hear that there was a dress code (no jeans or casual attire) but I was a tad surprised that period dress was encouraged. What a fabulous way to experience Europe.

Once we got to 45 minutes until curtain, Russell was all over us like white on rice making sure that if we wanted dessert or coffee, we order it right then. I chose chocolate mousse, Pru chose Blanchard's coffee gelato from Gelati Celesti and the cute couple both wanted coffee.

Moments later Russell returned with a somber face. "Chocolate mousse has left the building," he informed me solemnly before offering me chocolate decadence gelato as his conciliatory gift for the departure of my chosen one.

"Just give her something chocolate," Pru instructed and we gobbled our gelatos before the handsome one at the table picked up the check and escorted us to the car.

Considering he was taking us to a riotously anti-male play (his choice, mind you), it was all terribly generous of him.

Tonight was closing night for "5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche" at Richmond Triangle Players and it was sold out. Milling about with the audience beforehand were cast members in pastel '50s-era dresses, Mamie Eisenhower hairdos and veiled hats.

Ushers passed out name tags (I was Ingrid) which we were expected to wear during the show as members of the Susan B. Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein. The play told the story of their annual quiche breakfast meeting to decide who makes the best quiche.

It wasn't long before we not only learned the group's motto, but were instructed to stand and say it in unison along with the hand motions.

No men! (think the gesture for "Stop! In the Name of Love")
No meat! (think thumbs on head, fingers wiggling like an animal)
All manners! (a lady-like curtsy)

See? I was getting the hang of this lesbian thing.

After we'd all complied, the president of the society, Lulie, points to a woman in the front row (fortunately I was in the second) named Connie for doing the "no meat!" gesture with only one hand because, "Her other hand was holding an alcoholic drink!" Shameful!

Double entendres abounded, such as when the sisters discussed what constitutes quiche. "Can you imagine putting sausage in a quiche?" Envision the hand gestures boys used to make in elementary school.

Fifties-style drama ensues when warnings go off and there's a nuclear attack, stranding them in the meeting room for the next four years. What will they do without eggs to make quiche?

The audience lost it when Ginny, the timid and over-eager to please sister, is denied access to the lone quiche and jumps on the table, crouches over it and proceeds to eat it in a way that suggested she was doing something else.

"Ooh, she's doing it right," one of the sisters moans.

Once the sisters realize what's happened and that they're stuck, they decide to come out, even entreating the audience to do the same. "Say it loud and say it proud!" The first voice from the crowd was a man's."I'm a lesbian!"

Next came a cataloging of how they knew audience members were lesbians, things such as multiple banjos. "She's definitely a lesbian because she owns stock in U-Haul!"

Considering how many same sex couples were in the room, you can imagine how many laughs all this got.

By far the funniest scene was when Dale, clad only in a '50s-era corset and stockings, makes a run to get more quiches to tide them over for the next four years.

Before the radiation outside claims her (she explodes outside a window as her fellow lesbians shriek), she and her beloved Wren have a moment putting their hands against the glass to say goodbye.

The play was a ball, campy, corny and over-the-top, although there were moments when five female voices talking/shrieking/screaming got a bit shrill.

Let's just say we laughed a lot. Walking out, I overheard a woman tell her partner, "I don't know when I've ever consistently smiled so long." She might have owned some U-Haul stock.

Not me. No men, no meat? No way.

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