Monday, March 25, 2019

Porch After Dark

Today's glorious warmth translated to the first screened porch report of 2019.

Pru's birthday is Tuesday, but Beau is away on business all week. But since birthdays are a serious gift-giving occasion at the manse, Beau had organized an impromptu gift opening session followed by a simple supper prepared by the birthday girl-to-be.

I'd spent the warm afternoon at a Theater Alliance Panel meeting in the east end, discussing the first half of the theatrical season with my cohorts, a meandering discussion that addressed many things, including the anachronisms of a play set in 1940. A character in the play had been a repeat sneezer who had sneezed into her elbow every time.

As several of the critics had pointed out, no one in 1940 sneezed that way.

The funny part was that, until our discussion, the younger members of the panel had no idea that there'd ever been another way to deal with a sneeze other than projecting it into your elbow.

The times they have a-changed.

I'd barely gotten back from the meeting when I was summoned to the manse for the festivities. And while it was a low key affair in anticipation of the upcoming birthday and the blowout birthday dinner scheduled, any event that leads off with Roderer Brut is a celebration to me.

Even Beau, who's not usually a bubbly fan, had to admit that he liked it and that rarely happens.

I'm not the gift-giving pro that Pru and Beau are, but I'd brought a present nonetheless. Mr. Wright had taken a wonderful photo of the happy couple at Bar Solita - with him laughing heartily and her glancing at him with a knowing smile  - which had been blown up and suitably framed to fit the manse's decor.

But it was one of Beau's gifts that got Pru most excited: a new iPad. Like a kid with a new toy on Christmas morning, she oohed and aahed before peeling off the protective film and trying to figure out how to turn it on. When it turned out that all she had to do to transfer everything on her phone to her tablet was put them in proximity, everyone was dazzled by technology.

My first thought was, I guess setting up an iPad for me would be a bit more labor intensive given my lack of a cell phone.

As her phone told her what to do, we had a front row seat for the process. Eventually, she picked up the iPad and began preening - or at least that's what it looked like from where I sat - looking at herself in the tablet's screen, turning her head left and right and smiling. Then she did it again.

Silly me, the iPad was actually scanning her face from every angle, the better to recognize her. After all, no one wants their technology to be a stranger.

After a lovely supper of beef cubes in au jus, an array of roasted vegetables so good everyone raved repeatedly and a bowl of butter beans procured last summer on the Outer Banks (I love a hostess who plans ahead), we adjourned to the screened porch for the 2019 initiation of the recently redesigned space.

Another of my gifts, two metal candle stands resembling trailing ivy plants, had found a home out there since I'd given them to her at Christmas. Furniture had been rearranged for better conversation acoustics and everything looked fresh and ready for another season of porch parties.

Let the Roderer flow.

Pru regaled us with a story about being sent away to camp, where she was appalled to learn that she was expected to kayak and swim. Instead, she used the camp phone to notify a friend who promptly had her mother drive out to rescue Pru from lanyard-making and group hikes.

Some people are born with nerve, others have to acquire it.

Another of her anecdotes involved the teen-aged Pru zipping around the island on her Peugeot motorbike while on vacation at the family home in Bermuda. Seems she'd had her first bowl of chilled soup - cantaloupe, she recalled - upstairs at Trimingham's, a department store with a cafe on the second floor.

It was about then that Beau deadpanned, "When I was that age, I was going to Indian Acres." Without having any idea what Indian Acres was, I laughed out loud. When he clarified that it was a campground in Stafford County, I laughed harder.

Not all of us have the cosmopolitan teenage life experience Pru did. I know I never spent entire days with my uncle and his best friend Hot Dog sipping alcohol or smoking pot. Ah, youth in Bermuda.

Meanwhile, Beau polled the group about things worth seeing near Jonesboro, Arkansas, which is where he's headed all week. Since Memphis is only an hour away and I've been there, I could at least speak to some good spots there - Gus' Fried Chicken, the Beauty Shop Restaurant, the Absinthe Room - beyond the obvious: Sun Studio, the Rock and Soul Museum and if you're into it, Graceland.

Granted, I was that rare Memphis visitor with no need to see Elvis' digs, but to each his own.

Although Beau had requested that the porch heater be put on, it was a surprisingly comfortable evening to be outside until 11:00 or so. When I finally got up to leave, it was only because Beau had a morning flight out and I felt sure Pru wanted to climb into bed and play with her new toy.

Besides, the Roderer was all gone and no civilized porch party is dry. This isn't Indian Acres, after all.

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