Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Closet Carpenter Fans Unite

The thing about Beau is that his eyes are always bigger than our stomachs.

Truth be told, we'd planned the evening around our all-consuming desire for Secco's legendary butterscotch pudding and worked back from there because we were both jonesing for it.

A always, the most difficult decision at Secco is what to drink (so many excellent by-the-glass choices), but Beau eventually branched out with a lemony Greek - Bosinakis Moschofilero - while I stayed true to form with Raventos i Blanc "De nit" Brut Rose because every Tuesday night should be so fabulous as to kick off with pale pink bubbles.

It was when we got to the food menu that Beau lost his head and ordered enough food for three, despite the fact that Pru had opted out of our evening's plans. She's also the one who usually reminds him to scale back his ordering, meaning his wants went unchecked tonight.

The lightest of batters made fried squid and rock shrimp over Romesco sauce disappear embarrassingly quickly, while focaccia with onion jam was an indulgent exercise in sweet/savory balance. An entree of grilled asparagus risotto was seriously elevated with pistachio for crunch, preserved lemon for piquancy and Parmesan and a perfectly poached egg for obscene richness.

To put things in perspective about the amount of food that showed up, the only dish we finished completely was the fried squid and shrimp. Pru would have reveled in saying "I told you so," but I said no such thing since such comments are the sole right of a girlfriend, not a friend.

And despite not having finished our meal and going against every dinner rule my mother instilled in us, we ordered butterscotch pudding and not one, but two so neither of us had to share while sipping our Rose course (his Italian, mine French) and mulling the quixotic nature of middle aged relationships and how differently everyone shapes theirs.

During two hours of non-stop conversation, Beau reminded me that the last time we'd been at Secco for dinner in mid-February, he'd expressed amazement that I wasn't attached, even going so far as to wonder how no man had noticed my sterling qualities. He delighted in pointing out what a difference a couple of months makes.

By the time we left Secco at 7:45, just about every seat was taken and the vibe was so lively, you'd be hard-pressed to identify it a a Tuesday evening crowd, a fact that made us both very happy.

Then it was back to my 'hood for TheatreLAB's production of "Moth," where we found seats only to be asked to move because they'd been unofficially reserved. There are worse sacrifices than having to move to the front row for an intimate spot to witness an intense two-person play, much less one starring impressive talent like Kelsey Cordrey and John Mincks.

One of the reasons Pru had given for opting out of joining us was her lack of interest in a play about millennial characters, in this case, anime-obsessed Sebastian and emo Claryssa. Beau and I, on the other hand, felt sure that a play about misfit high school students would resonate no matter the era.

The play was laugh out loud funny in parts - "They're not emos, they're artists!" - and uncomfortably cruel in others, which about sums up high school. The bluster and vulnerability Cordrey and Mincks brought to characters not all that much younger than they are ensured a fast-moving story about the nature of existing outside the cool cliques in those devastating high school years.

Since neither Beau nor I had a cool bone in our high school bodies, we could relate to those years as something to endure rather than some kind of glory days. Hell, I graduated high school a year early to escape that world and its limitations.

And like any good millennial play, it not only had young characters and abundant cell phone usage, but was extremely brief (75 minutes) and without an intermission, clearly the biggest theater trend in decades. On the plus side, that meant we were out on the streets of Jackson Ward by 9:20 and scoring caffeine for Beau at Saison Market shortly thereafter, the better to fuel our tangent-filled conversations ("Wait, what are we talking about?").

During one particularly long-winded, multi-tangential discussion of movies (yes, I walked out of "Alien" and if you know me at all, how can you wonder why?), I invoked Yoda to Beau's amazement. He did the same later when things got so deep he had to stonewall it with, "Evaluate it not," effectively ending that topic.

It was that coffee that provided the necessary jolt to keep Beau interested as I played some of my latest record finds for him - the Brass Ring, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, Petula Clark - while he discovered a new term for such music: '60s sunshine pop. We'd already discovered a mutual love of the Carpenters, the epitome of that genre, when "Sing a Song" had played in his car and he'd admitted that he was mocked in high school for his love of their music.

I once heard Chrissie Hynde say that her biggest musical influence was Karen Carpenter and with that kind of benediction from the voice of the Pretenders, I think we can all agree that the Carpenters are retroactively cool, even if we'd never have admitted it in high school.

Of course, I also didn't go to prom, so what do I know about emo angst? Nothing that hasn't been paved over with middle-aged optimism, which, it turns out, was justified all along.

Much luck, I still have.

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