Sunday, March 10, 2019

Awe and Panic

A heathen sits down next to a devoted church-goer who sings in the choir. What could possibly go wrong?

Before decamping to another play in the Acts of Faith Festival, Pru, Beau and I bellied up to a table at Belmont Food Shop for dinner. Beau's original choice for wine came from the Willamette, a reliable source for pinot noirs that please them both. This one didn't.

Our second try came from even more scared ground - the Loire valley - and everybody was happy with Domaine de Chevilly "Quincy," a Sauvignon Blanc with notes of peach and good acidity. The Pinot Noir, meanwhile, was recorked to go home with Beau.

An amuse bouche of gougeres came out first, followed by three spears, each holding two tiny confit duck hearts, causing Beau to reverse his prior announcement that he eats everything. He did try one, commented on the texture, and admitted that organ meats just aren't his thing.

Except for the organ meats he likes, he clarified.

Pru and I savored cups of mushroom soup redolent of tamarind, which is seducing me a lot lately (see: Rust and Stardust cocktail at Perch). The consomme-like soup was ideal for piquing our appetites for what was to come.

For me, it was monkfish with leeks and fingerlings in a brown butter sauce, further cementing monkfish's claim to fame as the poor man's lobster. Beau's vegetable potpie was the undisputed star of the table, a hearty gravy studded with vegetables under a flaky crust, while Pru's seared tuna delivered a lighter taste.

Despite being full to the gills, Beau insisted on his own butterscotch custard even after I offered to share mine. Like the butterscotch mousse I'd had last week in Annapolis, this was another subtle butterscotch dessert when I was really hoping for the oomph of a darker, more intense butterscotch finish.

At least Beau liked it, even if he was looking a tad over-full by that point.

We got to Richmond Triangle Players with plenty of time to spare, which allowed the man seated next to me to initiate a conversation. Seems he and his wife were there from Maryland because their daughter was in this production. When Pru and I asked if she'd gotten her talent from her parents, he insisted she hadn't. Their only talent, he claimed, was singing in the choir at church every Sunday.

Luckily, he didn't seem to sense that he was elbow to elbow with a card-carrying heathen.

The premise of "An Act of Gd" was simple: god comes down and takes the body of a somewhat successful regional actress with an Artsie award to explain that the ten commandments Moses brought down weren't the final version.

She's here to provide an update.

Knowing that talented comic actress Maggie Bavolack was playing god only made the irreverent play more appealing. She joked that Richmond has almost as many houses of worship as it does Confederate monuments. She claimed that when creating the land masses and shaping Florida, she knew even then that it was going to be shaped like a penis.

It was while she was explaining the commandment, "Thou shalt not tell others who to fornicate" that she said, "I mean the gays" that I first realized that the church-going man next to me wasn't looking at the stage. On purpose. Instead, he was staring off into the back of the chair in front of him, as if to avoid absorbing the sacrilegious things being said onstage. Occasionally, he'd look up for a minute and then avert his eyes when things got profane.

Maggie as god went on to explain creation and the pains she went to to make it look like evolution had created the world. We heard the story of Adam and Steve and why Steve was changed to Eve and what that meant for mankind (less master gardening, for one).

And sometimes, she'd drop a line so clever that most people didn't even catch it, like when she said, "I did Cosby his nectar," and Pru and I about lost it laughing. Any word nerd can't help but react to a new verb like that.

"Please stop calling my name during sex," Mags instructed us. "I'm not that interested." I can understand, with all the naked bodies she'd have to look at.

We heard about Noah and his wife Nameless and how there was no sea-worthy boat capable of carrying two of every animal. Period.

Particularly satisfying to me was the commandment, "Thou shalt separate me and state," followed by a demonstration of her on one side of the stage and state on the far side. There was exuberant clapping for this commandment.

"Thou shalt not seek a personal relationship with me," god instructed. "I like distance." Pru related heavily to this one or at least I assumed she did after I poked her in the ribs when god said it.

The church-goer next to me, not so much. He looked directly at his shoes while god made her case for not getting too close.

But the somewhat successful regional actress was honest, too, explaining that god is a brand, but that she has wrath management issues at times. "Faith and sausage, two things best not seen being made," she advised. Amen to that.

"Thou shalt not believe in me, just like thou shalt not believe in the Richmond Flying Squirrels," Maggie told the room to much laughter.

By the end, the audience had been apprised of the official ten commandments as devised by a more modern deity. Only the man next to me looked unhappy about the updates.

But then, he wasn't invited back to the manse, where the absinthe drip was filled with water and ice and Beau poured ridiculous amounts of absinthe into our glasses. Then we settled into Pru's comfy couch and chairs to dish. It had been nearly a month since we'd last convened to talk trash, judge others and dissect the play we'd just seen and everyone had come with stories and opinions to share with the group.

What I found out what that Pru finds me exhausting to be around because of her introverted tendencies. She freely admits she'd always rather stay at home in her pajamas than have to get dressed and go out, a sentiment I don't share. Although she can play vivacious and talkative when we're together, it's not who she really is.

Then Beau piled on, too, saying that while he has the ability to crank up his energy levels to accommodate me, he needs recovery time afterward. And here I'd always thought I was a cinch to be around.

Eating confit duck hearts and time with me, two things best left to the highly energetic, it turns out.

A nap ahead of time doesn't hurt, either.


  1. Given my affinity for keeping the best of my relationships at a distance, I have never regretted my closer than spandex relationship with you and if I need an exorbitant amount of recuperation time after a taxing jaunt out with you my love, its always been worth the extra effort on my part. I’d nap three days to spend time with you, That’s a fact! ; )