Saturday, November 10, 2007

What To Do With All The Brush

The title has two meanings. I will address them in order.

1) There is some brush to be cleared in terms of mentioning a few episodes I meant to write about much earlier but didn't get around to. The weekend of Oct. 20 will long live in memory for the dinner party Stephanie and I threw, which was a smashing success and deserves even more praise than we've heard from the attendees, which I must tell you has been considerable. The full menu, more or less:

- Salad with a variety of small heirloom tomatoes. I chopped them up into a nice bowl of fall-colored deliciosity with blue cheese and served them with a light dressing. Everyone applauded.

- Hors d'oeuvres including chopped peppers, snap peas, garlic bean dip (like hummus, only different), etc.

- Creamy polenta with fake meatballs for some, turkey balls for others. Everyone applauded.

- Asparagus cooked with parmesan, lemon, salt and pepper on a tray. It nicely complemented the polenta.

- Roasted red and white onions with a dijon vinaigrette.

- Lavender honey ice cream with a lemon yogurt cake that tasted ten thousand times better than it sounds, because it's not just white cake covered in yellow yogurt. It's white cake covered in a lemony white frosting, and the whole thing does what I can only describe as "melting solidly" in your mouth. I wish English had words for what foods do when you eat them, but we have to make do with "melting solidly" and "fills your mouth thinly yet with gusto." Which describes...

- The barrelfuls of wine we drank. Most guests were kind enough to bring a few bottles, but by the end of the night we had to crack into our private stash. One friend who shall remain nameless, to avoid embarrassing him over an unpaid debt, promised drunkenly to buy us more wine to make up for this. It won't happen.

After dinner we played Cranium, which was all Stephanie's idea and went off like firecrackers, especially when it came time for me to draw as quickly as possible. I still don't know what some of those things were supposed to look like.

Anyway, that was the dinner party. I have pictures, but some of them I should really be there to explain, lest anyone get the wrong impression about what that thing is.

The night before the party, I fulfilled a more or less lifelong dream and saw the Mediaeval Baebes. You have every reason in the world to have heard of them, because they are the best thing to happen to music ever. I don't say this about most bands, but I literally cannot imagine what my life would be like if I hadn't discovered them. This is sort of how people felt about Led Zeppelin, so you may understand when I say the concert was like when John Bonham died, except the "Mediaeval Baebes" decided to use a bunch of ringers instead of disband as a unit. I'm glad they still exist, but they're not the band I fell in love with any more. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has left over the last 10 years except Katharine Blake, who founded the group and is sort of indispensable. The lineup is now her and six people I'd never heard of until Stephanie and I showed up at the Institute for Musical Traditions in Silver Spring. They still sound very good, and I shouldn't complain -- it's just the principle of the thing. And there was a weird coda to the evening: during the mid-concert break I bought a t-shirt and their live CD, and after the show was over I got in line to get them signed. Never mind that half the band on the live CD has already been replaced. Anyway, Stephanie was waiting patiently next to me while I trudged through the line -- a line full of, how shall I put it, old people who clearly had no idea who the Mediaeval Baebes were -- and when it came time to hand out my goods, everything went fine until I reached the last few band members at the end of the table, one of whom (I couldn't tell you which, because who are these people?) eyed me up and down, apparently liked what she saw, and said "Are you two related?"

Now, I can't prove that she said this out of optimistic romantic interest instead of a sheer lack of common sense. I thought I caught a twinkle in her eye. I don't really know. Part of their schtick is to be flirty, and I was the only visible guy within 20 years of any of them, so she might have just blurted something out because her brain had a sudden rush of blood. Anyway, it was the PERFECT opportunity to come up with some kind of witty retort. After the fact, I thought of several, including kissing Stephanie and saying "You wish" or something like that. But because I was not expecting to have to say something clever, and I was still singing one of the last songs over in my head, I was caught up very, very short. In the event, I said, "Are we related? No, we're not related." I could have left well enough alone. But I followed up that zinger with, "What a flattering question. Are you related?"

What the hell was I talking about? You tell me. If Jimmy Page had asked you and your boyfriend if you were related, what would you have said? "No, he's my lover, but you should come over later and look at our record collection." The most intriguing answer, to my mind, is "Why do you ask, Mr. Page?" But I was a little too flat-footed to come up with anything. I found myself wondering, even floating in this weird, socially awkward void that smelled faintly of the geriatric, whether one of the original band members would have said this, or if the replacement killer was just accidentally an airhead. Anyway, one of the other girls looked at me and said, playing her band member character to perfection, "Yes, unfortunately. Karmically." So the band is held together with costumes and some unfortunate karmic glue. As Steph and I began to move on from the table, the original instigator lost track of whether she was signing my CD or someone else's and we had to go through a little pantomime of "Oh, is this yours?" "I'm not sure." "I think this is it, ha ha." One of the other girls, now involving one whole end of the table, turned to her and said "Did you ask if they're related? Why would you say that?" This carried on, I can't remember the exact order of events but you get the idea, for a few more seconds and we walked out (into the rain, I might add) never to get those few precious moments back.

Afterward, as I said, I was kicking myself for not reacting better, but what do you expect when you've been listening to your favorite songs all night and aren't in the right frame of mind for a game of Words? Anyway, if you're reading this, I have determined that you were Bev Lee Harling. I am open to suggestions for how to make matters right between us.

2) Before too much longer I'm going to do more in the brush than just clear it, because I am going to Africa and you are not. My aforementioned departure from my job will now, since I rather impulsively bought an online ticket, be followed up by two months in L'Afrique -- which if I were a white rapper I would find a way to refer to as The Freak -- from January to March. I don't have any set itinerary, but more details on this front will become available here as I make my plans. In the meantime, feel free to tell me I'm going to be the victim of crimes. I've traveled plenty already and I'm not afraid of you.