Thursday, July 29, 2004

And a good time was had by all

I left work on schedule and actually got downtown just a few minutes after five.  The rain that had been threatening most of the afternoon had finally decided to fall.  But not steadily - more like a kid playing with a faucet - a few drips, a gush, a drizzle, off, gush, drip, off, repeat the rest of the evening.  Since I had made good time and didn't want to show up TOO early, I did what any good Aardvark would do - went to Barnes & Noble to kill a few minutes.  Got there just as the rain changed from drips to drizzle.  Stepped out to head for Riscky's Bar-B-Q Emporium with no rain, but plenty of wind.  (There's a reason I'm talking so much about the weather.  Give me a minute.  I'll get to it.)  Got the the restaurant at 5:20 and sure enough The Grouchy Old Yorkie Lady and her friend Eleanor were already there.

Introductions were made and drinks were ordered and we moved to a table in the back room.  Francesca had brought along her digital camera and had already taken a picture or two when the batteries went pffft (a technical term indicating an advanced state of inoperability).  Since I already knew what I was getting (Ribs!) I said I'd just pop down the block to the store and pick up some more.  Be back in a flash.  Or not.

Down the street to the store - which closed at 5:00.  Drat.  The rain had started again.  Haul my lard encumbered body back down the street and pop into the hotel.  The gift shop is right...here.  Only right here was now a restaurant.  Ok.  This is a big place.  No telling where they moved the gift shop to, and since I'm of the male persuasion, far be it from me to, like, ASK somebody.  There was a copy place across the street!  Maybe they had batteries.  Back out into the elements which by this time were dashing themselves against the ground rather insistently.  Into the copy place only to find out they didn't sell batteries.  Double drat!  "You might try RadioShack in Tandy Center or there's the hotel gift shop on the second floor."  Aha!  So that's where they put it.  RadioShack was three blocks away and by this time the rain was pouring.  Zip, in a big hefty guy sort of way, back across the street to the hotel.  Up the steps.  Wait for a slow moving group of people to get out of the way.  Hit the gap and make it past.  Round the corner to the gift shop.  Ok, batteries...batteries...ah!  Here they are.  Pick up a couple of packs and head to the counter to stand behind a couple of gals with all the time in the world.  Stand on one foot.  Then the other.  Suppress the internal monologue of, "c'mon, c'mon, c'mon already.  Pick a candy bar and get it over with" successfully.  Finally get to the counter and buy two four-packs of AA batteries for $12.  Yikes!  Must've used gold plated electrons in these puppies.  Whatever.

By this time my "pop down the block" has taken at least 15 minutes if not more.  Back down to the first floor and out the door into a monsoon.  Dash across the street and make it back to the table where dinner is already sitting.  (I don't think it had been there too long, but if it had Francesca and Eleanor were kind enough to wait on me.)  I'm still wet, but surprisingly enough not soaked.  Seems that everyone had ordered the All-You-Can-Eat ribs.  Mmmm...

I hope Francesca and Eleanor had as good a time as I did.  I suspect so.  We talked about kids, spouses, jobs, church, a certain Possum Papa, and other bits of flotsam and jetsam (including a Monty Python reference or two!).  The conversation was punctuated by drink refills and the arrival of ... MORE RIBS.  I didn't count at the time, but if I recall correctly my final count was still in the single digits.  Barely.  I ate all of my ribs (4+3), one of Eleanor's and then, since I had promised and all, one of Francesca's which I dedicated to Jim.  I 'm pretty sure everyone had their fill and then some.

Pictures were taken, including one of our "Miller Girl" waitress (for Terry's benefit I think, or maybe Jim's ... or Nate's).  She was sweet, but seemed to have fallen into a vat of collagen face first.  That and the tattoo on her lower back just didn't do anything for me.  She was sweet and perky though, and Miss Francesca did offer her some words of encouragement about pursuing her dreams.  Seems that they had struck up quite a conversation whilst I was "oot and aboot" chasing down "battries".

It seemed like just a few minutes had passed, but before I knew it, it was after 7:30.  My phone rang and it was Mrs. A wondering which of us was going to pick up the EAC from work.  The Grouchy (although I saw no signs of it) Old Yorkie Lady had a brief conversation with Mrs. A and then it was time to wind the party down.  Francesca wouldn't let me arm wrestle her over who got to buy dinner, so I wouldn't let her pay me back for the batteries either.  A gift bag was presented for me to take home to Mrs. A with, "just a little something" for her for giving me a kitchen pass to be out with the girls.

One of the goodies in the bag was Francesca's demo CD.  I listened to it this morning and can affirm what others already know:  that woman can sing!

It's funny how easily and quickly we went from the "friendly but you're still a stranger" stage to having a "we go way back" vibe.  I am sorry that Mrs. A wasn't there to experience it as well.  But Francesca is coming back next year (not to mention moving closer) and she promises to bring her husband along too.  She seems to think that Nick and I share some of the same traits.  (I love it when women recognize quality!)

On the way out, we realized that that odd "live music" we'd been hearing from the front of the restaurant was really karaoke!  You could see the gleam in Francesca's eye.  There was an older guy up there singing Elvis, and Eleanor and I could tell she wanted to get up there and show 'em how it's done, but we managed to get her outside without her laying a musical smackdown on the crowd.  (I regret it now ...  but I did have to go pick up my daughter, after all)

And then after I left to go pick up the EAC, I kicked myself because I couldn't remember if I had thanked Francesca for my meal.  (Short-term memory loss...now what was I saying?) 

So, just in case I didn't, THANK YOU FRANCESCA!

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