Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Off with Her Head

You could call it just another evening watching simulated oral sex with my parents.

But before all that unfolded, I was in Urbanna by late morning for an interview with a 26-year old who owns a boutique. A woman who gave up living in the Fan to return to the Northern Neck to take advantage of a business opportunity.

All I could think of was how when I was 26, I was working, sure, but not at anything I loved (teaching correspondents how to write, back when that was a thing) and still going to clubs twice a week.

Not a bit concerned with investing in my future like this sensible young woman.

My afternoon was given over to a couple of Richmonders who also happen to own a marina in Deltaville. One part of me was thinking about their commute, while another was acknowledging that strolling down "A" dock admiring boats that go for what houses cost is a pretty terrific way to spend a sunny spring-like afternoon.

And they get to do it everyday.

Once one of the owners found out my food background, he was the one asking questions, admitting that O'Toole's is one of his favorite restaurants. He expected me to judge but I told him every Forest Hill resident loves O'Toole's.

Once I was finished working for the day, I headed to my parents' house for dinner and a sleepover, a prospect so unusual that my smart alecky mother had observed, "Staying over? My, my, how things have changed!"

And while she's right, things have changed dramatically, the truth of it was that I couldn't see any good reason to return to Richmond when I had yet another interview on the Northern Neck the next morning.

Unlikely as it may seem, I do have a sensible side.

Before I'd even arrived, Mom had emailed, giving me a choice of dinner options and I'd picked chicken. But since she had no real plans for the package of drumsticks sitting on the counter, I resorted to the Internet, putting in on-hand ingredients to come up with a recipe. As I got busy making it, Mom returned to her chair in the other room, so I questioned what she was doing.

"Enjoying the smells while someone else makes dinner for me," she said happily.

But she did have a plan for all three of us post-dinner and that was to watch "Mary, Queen of Scots." She'd tentatively asked if I'd seen it and been relieved to learn I hadn't. She and Dad are big fans of British historical series, so this film seemed like a natural for them.

Only problem was, I don't think Mom was expecting to see Lord Darnley, Mary's second husband, pleasure her orally. She certainly wasn't expecting to see Ismael, Mary's gay confidante, violently stabbed by a group of her subjects. And I'm almost positive she didn't see the Earl of Bothwell's rape of Mary coming.

What I couldn't deal with was the colorblind casting, despite being a fan of the practice. But do I believe for a moment that Elizabeth I had a Chinese lady-in-waiting? I do not. Or that Lord Thomas Randolph, Elizabeth's adviser, was black? Sure don't.

And while I understand the director's reluctance to shoot an historical drama with an all-white cast in the politically correct times, if the actors don't make sense visually, what have you accomplished?

By the end of the movie, we were all sort of underwhelmed and went to bed. But this morning at breakfast, when I admitted to some historical curiosity about the real Mary (I mean, besides her sex life, which we were current on), both copped to some questions themselves. Out came the iPad, joining the Washington Post and Richmond Times Dispatch at the breakfast table so we could all learn a little more about the Scottish queen.

In other words, the nerdy apple doesn't fall too far from the nerdy tree.

Of course Mary didn't really wear an elaborate red gown for her beheading (too obvious). But after fact-checking, I was sorry that they hadn't shown the moment when the executioner lifted up her head for the crowds to see, only to have the head go rolling away because she had on a wig.

Come on, why pass up that kind of cinema verite?

After breakfast, Dad invited me to ride shotgun as he did a few errands in Kilmarnock, a trip that resulted in the overhead door to his trunk dropping on my head ("We need to get that fixed," he said, stating the obvious), which hurt like hell. My head may be hard, but those doors are heavy.

The outing also took us past a gang of convicts picking up trash in Lively under the watchful eye of a man with a rifle. I've no doubt it sucks to be a convict, but these guys really couldn't ask for a more glorious March day to be out in the sunshine.

After bidding so long to the people who spawned me, I drove back to Kilmarnock for another interview. This one was right on Main Street and if there's a busy time in a town like Kilmarnock, it's lunchtime. The sidewalk was full of slow-moving people coming in and out of shops and restaurants like they had all day to get their business done.

Which, given that this was the Northern Neck at mid-day on Tuesday, they probably did. Besides, no one is in a hurry after they've had a slice of pie after lunch at Lee's.

Crossing the arching Norris bridge - which my Mom fears and avoids - meant crossing a Rappahannock River covered in whitecaps, which probably explains why not a boat was in sight. I love the view looking down from that bridge because of the many times I've been in a boat going under the bridge and my inability to reconcile the two.

One thing I long ago reconciled is how lucky I am to have these two people for parents. When Dad mentioned that he'd just recently been at the doctor's office, it was to brag that his blood pressure had been 130/60, a major accomplishment for an 87-year old man, according to his doctor.

"I told him the reason is because of all these years with your Mom, the love of my life," he told me quite seriously.

Romantic, yes, and absolutely true. But I have it on good authority he also likes enjoying the smells while someone else makes dinner for him.

Some things don't change.


  1. My writing instructor always said "Start off with a strong opening sentence."

    I think you accomplished that.

  2. I stole it from myself, Professor Batty. It's exactly what I said to my parents moments after watching it unfold.

    Also, thank you!