Saturday, August 26, 2017

Endlessly Entertaining

You don't jump right into the Man Cave.

I'm sure you could, although it's the kind of place best approached in stages, preferably after a couple of stops. After imbibing has gotten underway. After multiple discussions have led to music and it becomes clear that only hearing can prove your point. After the restaurant you're in wants to close down.

Also because limited night time light is kindest to a basement under-dusted and overstuffed with old furniture, comic books both vintage and modern, and scads of records and CDs. A place well-stocked with wine and booze.

Better to begin the evening in full daylight, say at Saison market where our center table means everyone can find us drinking a bottle of Laurent Miguel Pere et Fils Rose.

A comedian friend is having a long form discussion of improv jumping off points with a fellow comedian (when she shares her idea, I remind her that using teen-aged journals has already been them). A foodie friend says hello, telling me my dress looks like the colors of rainbow sherbet (a fact I can verify now that I keep rainbow sherbet in my freezer at all times). A favorite server comes over to see how our eclipse-watching trip went (she'd sold us the bottles of Rose that accompanied us to the beach).

Let's just say that if I was trying to have an illicit affair, I wouldn't go to Saison market because the chance of not running into a familiar face is slim to none. And as my Richmond grandmother liked to say, "Slim just left town."

We left there to meet Holmes and Beloved at Lucy's two blocks away. Holmes and I had both suggested Lucy's independently of each other, so we took it as a sign. Besides, who can't appreciate a restaurant that gets its beef from the co-owner's family farm on the Northern Neck?

As both Holmes and Beloved made orgasmic sounds about their specials of filet mignon, I reminded them why they tasted so good: happy cows. Having actually been to the farm and seen how cows spend their days there, I think it's safe to say they're loving life right up until they become a menu special.

But even non-bovine dishes got an enthusiastic thumbs-up from our booth, from burrata and local tomatoes in a pesto pistou (the dish tasted like summer in every bite) to farm fritters of corn, cheddar and scallions (although, to be fair, I rarely meet a fritter I don't love) to an arugula salad dotted with grapes, fennel and Gorgonzola. And for the former non-seafood eater, the local fish of the day special of mahi mahi with corn, tomato and black bean salsa kicked butts and took numbers.

It was while we were devouring desserts - a flourless chocolate torte and a housemade ice cream sandwich - that the topic of music kept coming up, hardly a surprise given that there were two musicians and two former disco devotees at the table.

Let's just say that viola jokes abounded. When I thanked Holmes for having gifted me with one of his four copies of the Brass Ring's "The Disadvantages of You," my current favorite album-to-dress-by, Beloved said they hadn't listened to it yet. Holmes begged to differ.

It seemed like the only way to clear the matter up was to head directly to the Man Cave, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. And we did.

It's the '70s all over again in the Man Cave, which boasts a Formica-covered bar to which we sidled up in four bar stools that may have seen better days.

Under the bar itself is shelving holding part of Holmes' record collection (all of which, by the way, dates to pre-1990) while the rest of the collection resides in a nearby room. But all his favorites are at an easy arm's length reach, on or under the Formica.

Vibes reigned supreme, first with the Brass Ring and then with Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass on the iconic "Whipped Cream and Other Delights," which happened to include the theme from "The Dating Game."

Beyond "A Taste of Honey," the latter spurred a conversation about how almost everyone's Dad had that album and we were all pretty sure it had a lot to do with the shaving cream-covered woman on the album cover.

Too harsh? Okay, maybe Dads were the target demographic for Americanized easy listening brass music back then and the cover played no role. As if.

The later the evening got (and the more Chateau d'Aqueria Tavel Rose consumed), the further afield the music got from our starting point.

Eager to show off his favorite cover of "Woodstock," Holmes played Matthew Southern Comfort doing it to universal approval. And while it's a Joni Mitchell song, no one was making a case for her version. But I also thought that it would be appropriate to play the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young cover since we'd all grown up hearing that as the standard.

When Holmes announced that "Deja Vu," the album with "Woodstock" was elsewhere, Beloved offered to track it down in the next room. When she seemed to be taking an inordinate amount of time, he called out asking how she was doing in finding it.

"I found "Green Tambourine!" she called back, sounding pretty excited.

The look on his face was priceless, equal parts impatience (why can't others understand his filing system) and a reluctance to move (but with no choice since only he could save the day).

Shaking his head, he headed into the other room, muttering, "She's in the Byrds! She oughta be looking under Crosby!" And while he set off to assist, we never actually saw the record or got around to listening to it.

Such are the tangents and detours we inevitably take during these marathon listening parties where Beloved occasionally sits in as DJ. These days, with a savvy fourth added to our long-time trio, there's the added benefit of music trivia about pedal steel players and discussions about who played which guitars.

Unable to compete with their obscure knowledge, I nonetheless threw my two cents' worth in by sharing Joni Mitchell's inspiration for "Free Man in Paris" (David Geffen) while listening to "Court and Spark." Hey, it got me a few points.

During the course of the evening's fun, Holmes got two phone calls from friends, making me wonder who in the world calls a friend post 10:00 on a Friday night? For that matter, should cell phones even be allowed to disturb the zen of a place as frozen in time as the Man Cave?

And while we had no use for "The Dating Game," everyone there being quite happily paired up, we were left with one lingering musical question.

If a taste of honey isn't sweeter than wine, does that mean whipped cream and other delights are? Discuss.

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