Monday, August 21, 2017

Party with Stargazers in Vase

Please be our guest for cocktails and a summer supper 
6 p.m.

Heavens knows, it wasn't my intention to be that guest.

I mean, sure, I showed up at 6 on the dot because that's when the invitation said, but I honestly didn't think I'd be the very first one at the party. The panicked-looking host flew around doing last minute prep while I launched a theater conversation with the man of the house.

Thank goodness we can always fall back on shrill singing voices, false marketing and playing to stereotypes rather than simply being generically catty.

We were just dissecting "The View Upstairs" which we'd both seen this weekend when we were joined by a madras jacket-wearing theater lover who'd just this minute come from seeing it. As with the other conversations I'd had about the play, it boiled down to age whether you took offense to how '70s gay men and millennials were portrayed.

Both seemed awfully recognizable to me, but then I'm a cis-gendered Baby Boomer woman, so what do I know?

A nice surprise was the wine rep I used to spend time with, whom I hadn't run into in eons. Since I see her so infrequently these days, I had no shame in corralling her for some vigorous catch-up sessions. She wanted to hear if I was seeing anybody and I was curious about all the obscure river beaches she frequents.

Both of us got good information.

I met a well-dressed man who lived in the house he'd grown up in on northside and still loved the neighborhood. Obligingly, I gave him an earful of reasons when he inquired if he should eat at L'Opossum for the first time.

It was hardly surprising that the topic of the evening was tomorrow's eclipse and one guy shared that his entire company had ordered eclipse glasses and were planning to spend the afternoon on the building's roof, the better to experience it.

When I asked if the boss had authorized the purchase, he scoffed. "He doesn't even know there's an eclipse!" That seems impossible, but okay. Hell, the Washington Post had an entire section in today's paper about the history, science and hacks of eclipses.

One of the guys serving looked familiar (also eerily like Matt LeBlanc) and when I asked why, he named off 7 or 8 restaurants where he'd worked, all of which I'd been to. "You're Karen, right?" he asked, although I wouldn't have guessed we'd been on a first name basis.

You never know who you've forgotten.

Our host had obviously been cooking for days, resulting in platters, chafing dishes and trays of food laid out in four locations to encourage circulation and overeating.

I popped a pimento cheese crostini, downed enough shrimp to qualify for a shrimp cocktail and made small talk with a woman who was taking a bullet for a friend who eschewed pork by eating a bacon-wrapped NY strip. The supper itself featured a pasta dish, a mixed vegetable medley and a grilled teriyaki salmon, all more than ably executed and fabulous tasting.

People broke into small groups while we ate supper and my female trio set up shop in the front window to discourse on our ties to the hosts, why we allowed ourselves to fall for the perm craze in the '80s and the joys of city living.

One woman shared that she and her husband had moved to First and Grace Streets in the late '80s, a time when few people were choosing to live in the area. Now that she and her husband are empty nesters, they're thinking of moving back downtown, so why wouldn't I sing the praises of my centrally-located neighborhood?

Sweet tooth types were rewarded with a dessert buffet of pineapple upside down cake, trifle and chocolate pate with fresh strawberries. When my friend asked what was in the chocolate pate after I ate mine, I said all I could taste was chocolate and butter. When the host stopped by our group, she asked him about it and he confirmed it was nothing more than chocolate and butter with crushed hazelnuts on top.

Other than a sprinkle of sea salt, it couldn't have been any more decadent.

When the wine rep was asked her favorite wine, she responded with "bubbles," specifically Cremant de Bourgogne and no one was going to argue with that. What was truly wonderful was that one of the servers showed up not two minutes later with a glass of it for her and, once he saw the interest in my eyes, one for me as well.

We toasted the eclipse and the times in a woman's life when she trades her responsibilities for more personal indulgences because she's earned it.

And, no, we're not just talking chocolate and butter here.

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