Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Just Like Me

My day was a three-act play, with only the briefest of intermissions.

Act 1: The server is not responding

I may be a Luddite, but I at least live in a world of connectivity. My octogenarian parents, who do have cell phones, mind you (unlike me), are also at the mercy of some rinky dink Northern Neck internet provider that could only be classified as intermittent at best.

They're used to this, probably because they were still on a dial-up connection into the Obama administration, but I'm not. So when I got down there for my annual visit to complete and e-file their taxes, you can imagine my frustration to find that the internet is missing in action,

Apparently what they do when this happens is call the provider, whose pre-recorded message informs them that service will be spotty for the next few hours. Mom and Dad take this in stride. "It always goes out when there's bad weather," Mom says, as if this is a legit explanation.

And by bad weather, we're talking breezy and occasional rain showers, so nothing catastrophic.

Since I can't do what I came to do, I spend the morning on other requests like baking oatmeal raisin cookies, mending a hole in Mom's favorite cardigan and organizing kitchen cabinets. Finally, after lunch the Internet returns and taxes can not only be filed, but accepted by the IRS before the possibility of another government shutdown descends.

But because I had to wait until afternoon to begin doing taxes, it's late afternoon before I hit the road back to Richmond for my final foray to the Environmental Film Fest.

Act 2: Al Gore was right

Arriving back in J-Ward at 5:20 for a documentary that began at 6 meant a sprint to get cleaned up before grabbing an umbrella and walking over to Cabell Library for Leonardo diCaprio's passion project, "Before the Flood."

I arrived with five minutes to spare. As you might expect, the room was full of people already alarmed about global warming rather than people who needed a cinematic slap in the face to realize how quickly things are going to get dire.

Like how by 2040, it'll be possible to sail over the North Pole. How the ice there used to be hard and dark blue and is now pale blue with the consistency of ice cream.

For closer-to-home concerns, there was Miami, where the city is currently involved in massive project to raise streets and install pumps to rid roadways of the seawater which currently rises through the city's drains to regularly flood the streets.

And while a shift to solar power seems like a no-brainer, both China and India are making more progress on that front than the U.S. Island nations contribute the least to global warming's causes yet feel its effects most. Oh, and once again, a reminder that raising cows is the most inefficient use of land so we all need to cut back on meat.

Probably most shocking was the make-up of Congress in 2016: 38 climate deniers in the Senate and 131 in the House. We pay these people to be ignorant?

Let's just say that by the time I left Cabell, I had accepted that Greenland is going to go away, along with most of Florida and Norfolk, which represents an enormous security risk for the country given the naval base there.

Walking home after a day of waiting for Internet and being reminded that life as we know is on the way out had me ready to climb into bed and call it a night.

Except that ten minutes after I got home, the phone rang. Holmes and Beloved were en route to Acacia and didn't I want to join them for dinner in 20 minutes?

Act 3: RSVP for one

Another quick change of clothes and I too was headed to Acacia, where I found them at the bar already sipping pink bubbles. When I asked the bartender what we were drinking, his response was, "Chateau Langlois Cremant de Loire Brut Rose, the same thing you guys drank the last couple of times you were here."

So we're creatures of habit, apparently.

Since we'd gotten a late start, we jumped right into appetizers: white anchovies with grilled Romaine, radicchio and Forme d'Ambert (because Beloved can't go to Acacia and not have them), crab fritters studded with lump crabmeat and deep fried deviled eggs. A nice light start, in other words.

The occasion for the Tuesday celebration was that it was Beloved's first day back at work, albeit abridged to a four hour workday, since she broke her elbow back in late December. While she'd been in a cast and then bandage, they'd not done their usual dining out. Holmes said his credit card bill had dropped precipitously while she just wanted to be among the living and eating well again.

The bartender regaled us with his theories on dogs (puppyhood is key) while giving an enthusiastic thumbs-up to our dinner selections: a Wagyu cheesebuger that made Beloved moan with pleasure, pork schnitzel that Holmes declared the best he'd ever had in Richmond, bar none and my market fish special of grilled flounder with a beet and arugula side salad.

Usually we linger, but Acacia was clearing out, so we did, too, landing back at Holmes' man cave for molten chocolate cake, some unexpected and perfectly lovely Francoise Chidaine le Chenin d'Ailleurs Brut and a listening party that began with Elvis Costello solely because that was where his last solo listening party had ended.

Usually he does the record selection with input and requests from the womenfolk, but I waited until he was in the loo to peruse his collection on my own. Almost immediately, I made a stealth find, namely "The Way We Were" soundtrack and pulled it out. He's no Streisand fan but she and I are and he'd never mentioned having this album, much less played it for us.

The album/movie resonated for both of us because we'd been young when we'd seen it but recalled how it had destroyed us with its story of two people who fell in love but ultimately couldn't be together. Back when we first saw it, neither of us had had enough life experience to realize that sometimes that's how life pans out so it had upset us. Scarred us, even.

Tonight it was just a treat to hear, as much for classic songs Beloved immediately recognized by name - "Red Sails in the Sunset" and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams" - as for the three interpretations of the heart-tugging theme song. Oh, Hubbel.

Holmes tried to top that by pulling out the "Local Hero" soundtrack done by Mark Knopfler, but it was a whole different animal, albeit a satisfyingly 1983 one.

The big score was a compilation album called "The Best of '66," full of originals and covers, some of which defied belief. Why would anyone allow the Brothers Four to cover "Help?" Most egregious of all was the New Christy Minstrels' soul-less take on Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots are Made for Walking," which had not an iota of sexiness left in it despite the lyrics.

When I made a request for the soundtrack to "Hair," Holmes pivoted in his bar stool extracting the album from behind two others on a shelf directly behind his head. The man has hundreds of albums and he somehow knew exactly where this one was.

I'd wanted to hear "Good Morning, Starshine" but our group was unimpressed by Lynn Kellogg's version, leading Holmes to dub this "The Night of the Covers." On the other hand, "Aquarius" by Ronnie Dyson played just fine.

My favorite part of the 1968 album? That the song "Black Boys," sung in the original cast by Diane Keaton (news to me), bears a dedication to Governor George Wallace. Well done, kids.

At midnight, we realized we needed to bring this party to a close, but since Beloved doesn't go to work now until 2:00, we relented and put on more music. Finally at 1:15, we put on our grown-up pants and shut off the turntable for the night.

Total non-sleeping time spent at home today: an hour and 15 minutes, a new record.

But that's okay, intermissions are for amateurs. When old records call, I'm ready for my close-up.

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