Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Best Laid Plans

What are we doing?

Because I seem to be everyone's default planner, inevitably when I make a date to meet someone, they count on me to decide what we're going to do (and usually, where we're going to eat). And it isn't a recent phenomena because I was always the organizer of trips and excursions as far back as my college days, when I was gifted with a shirt that read, "Social Director."

Plans "R" me, if you will.

So after a friend recently told me he was really enjoying getting to know new things through me, I laid out a simple Monday evening that began with parking once and partying twice.

Because it's only fair to revisit a place I haven't been in years, we began at Casa del Barco for happy hour.

I still love the Italianate building, the sunlight glinting off the bottles hung from the ceiling and the rustic metal light fixtures over the bar, yet I still marvel at how such a large staff can be so inattentive when there are only a dozen customers.

Heaven help us if we'd wanted food.

Still, through patience, hand signals and flagging down a manager with a headset, we were able to procure glasses of Prosecco on two separate occasions, although I have to believe it shouldn't be that challenging.

From there we walked to the turning basin to board the Martha Jefferson so my date could experience his first canal boat ride. I'd purposely chosen the last boat ride of the day, the better to appreciate the soft evening light and the sunset's reflections off the downtown buildings.

Where I was surprised - this was, after all, my fourth canal boat ride, although it had been several years since my last - was in the spiel delivered by our young female boat driver.

In addition to the standard patter about the burning of Richmond and the tobacco warehouses, we heard about how one of the bridges was modeled on Paris' Pont Neuf, the city's oldest bridge. Who knew?

Just as surprising was the story of Maggie Walker, complete with a reference to the new statue here in Jackson Ward. That definitely wasn't part of the tour before, although I was thrilled to hear it shared as just another key part of Richmond history.

On the uncrowded boat with us was an Hispanic family, the youngest son in a t-shirt with an American flag and the Dad proudly wearing a U.S. Army hat, all of them except the youngest child (who was fixated by a screen), seemingly enthralled with the history lesson they were hearing.

Depending on your politics, they could have been a poster family for American assimilation or an example of just the kind of no-good people we need to build a wall to keep out.

Don't get me started.

For my companion, who was seeing the Low Line, man-made Chapel Island and the half bascule bridge (think mules and rocks) from the water for the first time since I'd walked him over that territory, it was an opportunity to delight in an alternate vantage point.

Everything looks different from the water.

During the Q & A, someone inquired about the canal's depth and the driver said it was only up to her waist, a fact she'd recently learned when her sunglasses went overboard.

"But I don't recommend getting in because it's pretty gross," she shared. It was my first canal boat ride without a blue heron sighting, although I see them so frequently on the pipeline now that I can't really complain.

Once back on dry land, we weren't ready to return to air-conditioning, instead ending up in the brick-walled garden of Sang Jun Thai for dinner. We shared the dusky patio space with only one other table and it held friends already enjoying a meal.

Our server was sweet and incredibly young-looking, but also flummoxed when the first two bottles of wine we ordered were no longer available. Seems the wine list needs updating and no one could be bothered to do it.

Eventually, she brought out a hand-written list of available wines for us to choose from, we each ordered a glass and she returned with just one. We took it as a hint that we should abandon any hope of drinking.

But our entrees - broccoli lover with chicken and Chinese broccoli with crispy pork belly - were solid, the lanterns came on to provide ambiance and our friends moved on, leaving us the sole occupants of the charming patio.

No, I hadn't planned that part, although I might have if I'd known how.

But listening to Curtis Mayfield by candlelight on my balcony afterward while sipping Eden Imperial 11 Rose? That was all me.

I got this plan-making thing down cold. Or warm, as the night may be.

No comments:

Post a Comment