Sunday, November 26, 2017

Tiki and Tacky

We'll call it the kick-off to the holiday season.

Walking to the car when my posse came to pick me up, I saw Pru had her window down as she greeted me with one word. "Outfit?" I understood that to mean that she didn't recognize the dress under my unbuttoned coat and wanted a look-see at my latest thrift store find.

She not only approved of the red/gray/black chevron pattern but agreed with me that the $6 dress had my name written all over it. It makes it so much easier to shop when that's the case.

We were the first diners in Flora and our server recognized me immediately. "I've waited on you before, haven't I?" she inquired. Why, yes, I recall your face, too, but how do you remember one customer out of scores? Well done there.

When I requested a complicated yet sassy drink with no limitations on flavor profile, she grinned at my description and said she couldn't wait to pass my order on to the bartender. Pru seconded the order because who wants simple when complex is an option?

What neither of us could have expected was for her to return with a cookie-jar sized ceramic pineapple, complete with leaf-like lid. When she pulled off the top, there were two bendable straws, a pink paper umbrella for adornment and two very happy women to drink it.

The unlikely part of all that is that earlier when Beau had notified me of pick-up time, he'd commented on the grilled shark tacos we were both looking forward to and then on the unseasonable weather.

"I guess I'll wear shorts! 70!" he enthused, to which I'd responded, "Windows wide open! Wish we had a tiki bar to go to!" Ask and ye shall recieve, it seems.

What we didn't get was shark tacos because they're no longer on the menu, although the shrimp ceviche with watermelon, radishes, jalapenos and red onion I had instead was every bit as stellar as the tacos had been.

And that was after we'd had a leisurely first course of tomatillo and habanero salsa (too hot for anyone but Beau), not one but two orders of black bean dip topped with requeson and ancho chile oil (easily the most elevated black bean dip I've ever had), guacamole with queso cotija and ancho (still the best in town) and another salsa of tomatoes and pepitas (delicious but it had stiff competition for our attention).

No exaggeration, we went through three bowls of salty chips just to get all that to our mouths.

With this crew, we usually trade bites of entrees, but it was all any of us could do to finish what was on our own plates after such an indulgent first course. And there was no way on earth Pru and I could finish that punch bowl of a drink, try as we did.

En route to Richmond Triangle Players, we drove Monument Avenue to see what holiday lights were up on the grand houses that line it - even though I'm inclined to think it's a tad early for all that - as a prelude to the two David Sedaris seasonal plays we were about to see.

"Season's Greetings" featured the consistently excellent Jacqueline Jones as Jocelyn, the opinionated matriarch of a suburban family dictating the annual Christmas newsletter for friends and families, circa 1995. Jones is a master at skirting that line between sweet as pie and judgmental as hell, always with a smile on her face.

Where it got Sedaris hilarious were her rantings about having to care for her daughter's crack baby and put up with the 22-year old daughter (in a skirt the size of a beer koozie) her husband had fathered in Vietnam and who had shown up on their door step.

Naturally it ends up with death, incomplete Christmas shopping and complete empathy for Jocelyn.

Even more well-known, "The Santaland Diaries" starred Robert Throckmorton as a Sedaris stand-in for his time spent working as Crumpet the elf in Santaland at Macy's in New York, a job that not only requires wearing green velvet and red and white striped socks, but one that would pluck anyone's last nerve.

Along the way, we got a Billie Holiday impersonation, plenty of sexual innuendo and a sense of the challenges involved in dealing with photo-obsessed parents and demanding children when your job is to be an enthusiastic elf at all times. It's enough to drive a person to write.

Jumpin' jingle bells, it's not even December and it feels like the season of ask and you shall receive is already in full swing.

Yo, Santa, I've got a request or two and I'm not talking about tiki drinks...

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