Sunday, November 19, 2017

Cheers, Big Ears

It's got to be pretty early in the morning before J-Ward rolls up the sidewalks.

The proof was everywhere when I got home at 1:43 on a breezy, 64-degree November night with signs of life buzzing all around. Next door, a woman is knocking at the front door. Double parked is a pizza delivery guy. A guy is walking down my side of the street, while on the other side, close to a dozen people are milling abut in front of house, red party cups in hand, as music plays from the porch.

Fortunately, I keep similar hours with the people on my block.

When I'd left my house at 5:15 to walk to Lucy's, my next door neighbor was sitting on his porch and called to me, "Hey, you look nice. Got a hot date? I bet you have a hot date." It is to laugh, but I nonetheless assured him I was merely meeting friends for dinner and a play and kept walking.

When I'd suggested Lucy's for dinner, I'd been unaware that Beau and Pru's Mom (who's currently sporting the most gorgeous purple hair) hadn't been there before, which is just short of amazing given how often they/we eat out. Luckily, we had plenty of time to introduce them to one of Jackson Ward's finest.

Beau likes to joke that he has protect himself from his all-female company - aka the intellectual dominatrices, a moniker the three of us are fine with - on outings such as this, but for the most part he handles it as well as can be expected for a mere male.

In the hands-on spirit of the conversation that was already flowing, we began with a bottle of Villa Wolf Rose of Pinot Noir and by sharing a righteous fondue of Boursin and Gorgonzola, into which we dipped fried cauliflower, apple slices and fried croutons. When our server came to check on our progress, Beau (who's been known to pun with impunity) told her to take the empty dish away because we were "fon-done."

He redeemed himself by suggesting a second bottle of Rose as we moved into entrees. Pru and I had both chosen the seared flounder over butternut squash puree with collards and housemade bacon in apple cider vinaigrette (some of the finest collards I've had in a while), while Beau went meatless with Non-Spaghetti and Meatballs (fried artichoke, spinach and avocado balls over sauteed spaghetti squash) and the Purple One had fettucine with braised short ribs.

All around us, Lucy's had gotten crazy busy with people hovering waiting for tables, while we were comfortably ensconced in our booth looking at a dessert menu and feeling no pressure to turn over our table to latecomers. We finished up with a flourless chocolate torte, apple crisp and a housemade ice cream sandwich that Beau attempted to eat with a fork until Pru set him straight about ice cream sandwich etiquette.

She and I used to assume that clueless people had been raised by wolves, but in some cases, it seems they merely lived in Ladysmith and thus had no access to basic civility practices.

We followed dinner with CAT Theatre's production of "Ripcord," a play about two nursing home roommates who try to best each other in terrible ways to win a bet and get the bed with the best sunlight and view. If this is old age, kill me now.

The play began with a warning that it contained mild profanity which had apparently already offended some attendees, although my guess would be that anyone offended doesn't see much theater in this town because that barn door was long ago flung open.

Surprisingly, the audience was probably half millennials, not a typical representation at the theater, with the exception of TheatreLAB. It was kind of refreshing to see. In the row in front of us was a guy with a loud, distinctive laugh who seemed to find almost everything funny and let loose at lines that no one else laughed at.

Some lines - "Why can't people be peculiar anymore?" - were funny, while others - "You're turning into an old lady" fell flat as the two women did awful things (tearing up a grandchild's painting, faking suicide, putting a bogus ad in the classifieds) to each other, presumably because they had nothing better to do. I did wonder if the fact that the play was written by a man had anything to do with how difficult it was to like either of the two unpleasant female characters.

Walking out afterwards, the weather was still as breezy and warm as when I'd first walked over to Lucy's, so it only made sense to head back to Pru's screened porch and see what happened. Intellectual dominatrices-led conversation, that's what happened.

When the wind kept turning on the motion sensor lights outside, Beau gave us a mini-science lesson about motion sensors versus heat sensors. Pru, somewhat of a science nerd herself, explained the theory of bio-mimicry and I did my best to understand. We also had a lesson on lake effect snow and Alberta Clippers, neither of which have much practical application in Richmond.

Discussing their shared bent for sciences, Beau asked Pru if she hadn't been good at biology. "I was exceptional," she deadpanned.

When Beau was found to be in error because of assumptions made, Pru threatened to cut him off. "Please don't take my assumption abilities away!" he pleaded.

Because it's all the news lately, we had to discuss all the men behaving badly, taking it further to the gradations of what men have been getting away with for centuries now. We reached a consensus that sticking an unwanted tongue down a woman's throat is not as bad as grabbing a woman by the you-know-what (incidentally, something that had happened to all three of the women on the porch. All. Three.), not that either needs to happen.

This topic went deep and Beau wasn't always able to participate fully since his gender was the one being skewered and he was quick to admit that there was no justification for bad behavior. But we had to acknowledge how times have changed and what was tolerated then is punishable now.

One of the most satisfying conversations began when Beau pointed out that what we'd been doing for the past three hours - sitting around sharing opinions, making a case for your beliefs, sharing experiences and lessons learned, positing ideas - had been exactly what he'd done in college. "But then I stopped doing it," he pondered. "And now I'm doing it again."

Why, I asked, would you ever stop sitting around exchanging ideas with friends? Trying to convince them of your point? Sharing a point of view they may not have considered? I prefer to live a life where that's business as usual.

Because any intellectual dominatrix will tell you the way to be exceptional is to be peculiar like that.

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