Saturday, January 26, 2019

Days of Brut and Beans

It was a combination Burns night and Wilson tribute set to a picnic.

While no haggis was involved, Holmes did invite me to dinner and a listening party on the night usually devoted to a traditional Burns supper. Having had haggis once, in Scotland, I was only too happy to swap out sheep innards for Buzz and Ned's barbecue and whatever records he was going to spin.

The whole reason for staying in rather than going out is Beloved's broken elbow, which has gone from the cumbersome plaster cast sticking straight out from her body she was wearing a month ago to a thick bandage covered by a contraption with a large hinge that at least allows her to look less like a statue, even if she still can't go to work.

When I got to Holmes' house, she immediately apologized for being in her pajamas and I countered by pointing out that I was still in my walking clothes, Either way, it was a picnic, a decidedly casual occasion, even if if we did wash it all down with Graham Beck Brut Rose in Holmes' mother's cut crystal glasses.

Once Holmes finished steaming shrimp and making cocktail sauce just the way Beloved and I like it (with enough horseradish to clear our sinus cavities), we sat down with our shrimp cocktails. Spread all over the dining room table was our feast: barbecued chicken, pork barbecue, Hawaiian rolls, cole slaw, baked beans and marinated cucumber and onion salad.

The only thing missing was corn on the cob, which Holmes had considered and decided against. A good call if you ask me. I'd just as soon do without and wait for summer rather than make do with winter corn.

The barbecued chicken had been my suggestion, making Holmes and Beloved's surprised enthusiasm for it especially gratifying. Big, irregular hunks of dark and white meat in a nicely-seasoned sauce resulted in nearly all of the chicken being eaten while barely a fourth of the pork met its demise.

It's a rare meal where yard bird trumps pig without it being fried. Of course, now that Facebook has told me that people who eat fried chicken once a day die 13% sooner than those who don't, I have to ask. Who eats fried chicken every single day?

After we'd stuffed ourselves silly, we retreated to the basement, where Holmes announced that tonight's theme was "compilations," beginning with "Attack of the Killer Bs Volume I." That's B for B-sides, so more obscure songs.

Picking and choosing, he started with Marshall Crenshaw's "You're My Favorite Waste of Time," again recounting the story to Beloved of me driving (as he tells it, going 40 mph in a 55 mph zone) him and I to Ashland Coffee and Tea to see Marshall Crenshaw.

Some friends just never forgive you for opening up about your personal life while they're stuck in the passenger seat.

But the record held other gems from bands like the Pretenders, the Ramones and Roxy Music. It was 1983 new wave, pop rock and punk of the highest order. And, really, shouldn't everyone listen to an occasional piece by Laurie Anderson ("Lou Reed's wife!" Holmes informed Beloved, as if that explained anything) just to appreciate that we have such performers in our world?

We had a secondary theme for the evening because since our last music night, vocalist Nancy Wilson had died. RIP.

All three of us are devoted fans of her 1963 "Hollywood My Way" record - the one where she's standing in front of a yellow taxi wearing a yellow jersey evening dress that hugs every part of her body and necessitated explaining what a sheath was to Holmes-  which gets played just about every time we get together, including tonight. "Days of Wine and Roses," just exquisite.

The last time we'd seen each other had been at Holmes' birthday dinner where they'd met Mr. Wright for the first time. When Beloved mentioned that she'd found him very attractive, Holmes piped up, saying, "I'd date him!" although it sounded a lot like "I'd do him!" which he denies saying.

Either way, they regretted cousin Billie monopolizing him so that no one else got a chance to get to get a word in edgewise or find out why he's my favorite waste of time.

Regrets, they had a few.

But not me. An evening with friends devoted to 'cue and old records after a week spent attempting re-entry into the real world was about as ambitious as I could muster.

I mean, where else in this town am I going to hear someone say, "Just listen to that Hammond B-3!" in such a reverential tone?

And at a Burns night picnic, too.

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