(Norman Blake reference)
Corrine, Phil and I hit the Hot 'Lanta night, and found that it is not so hot after, say, 7PM, at least where we were. No cars, no people to speak of, no flashing neon lights, not even the wailing of sirens from police cars or ambulances, just a rather quiet, clean downtown with some tall buildings, a number of eateries but not an inordinate or even satisfactory number within walking distance (not after you've been in The Bottoms in Richmond, VA), generally, in this snippet of the city at any rate, a great credit to the people and to the pols who make it that way.
Not that we were looking for strip joints (my wife was with us, after all, and what possble reason would I have to watch young women dance naked around a pole while working their way through law school?). However, with three folks you might generally type as Type A personalities or close to it walking together, it was hard to decide on who was going to decide and there was, too, deference to one another. So, seeing an Illegal CeeFood just a brief walk down the street I advised that if we could all tolerate seafood, this would be a good choice and one of us indicated that as long as the food was not still wiggling on the plate (or maybe he said "raw"?) that was fine for all, and so we were off to Illegal CeeFood, where the food was absolutely delicious.
Because of some issues I have resulting from some bouts with cancer in the past, one nasty one in particular, I do not tend to eat everything on my plate any more, especially when eating out, where many eateries want you to come back by heaping more than enough on your plate for maybe a week's worth of fine dining out of the comfort of the doggie bag you bring home, and because a certain partner of mine is limiting caloric intake if you know what I mean and I think you do, we make a rather odd couple (and that is just one of the ways). Therefore, when eating out in a town we do not intend to be in for more than a few days, and having no desire to pack leftovers for the airplane ride home (and not knowing what security would think of that: "We have rainbow trout in what appears to be a lemon chive butter sauce but which may very well be anthrax! Clear the building! Repeat! Clear the building!), my wife and I decided to share an order (rainbow trout in a lemon chive butter sauce) and split the sides (not laughing, that is, but two sides were offered and I picked one and she picked the other).If Phil wants to tell you what he ordered he can tell you himself, as I am not about to invade his privacy any more than I have to to get this story right, although I must say that Jerseyites de-shell shrimp differently than we Virginia Beachers do... or perhaps Illegal CeeFood may serve it differently too.
In fairness to Phil, Corrine wasn't sure she would like eating the skin of a fish and it was Phil who pointed out that she was not supposed to eat the skin of the fish, indicating that many of us beach-livers apparently don't cook our fish quite properly and therefore do not know how to eat it properly when it IS cooked properly. This fish was cooked mighty properly, it truly was and I would recommend the place highly to anyone...that particular one, more on that later if I ever get to later.
It was a particularly enjoyable evening even if, as I may have mentioned, Atlantans seem to turn their buildings into veritable iceboxes I think to contrast what is supposed to be stiflingly hot outside temperatures. Or, it could be, rather than making you sit on hard chairs so that you want to leave quickly, like fastfood joints do, they allow the comfort of plush seating while succeeding in freezing you out eventually.
As those who know me know, when I am eating, it is not a good idea for me to talk. I can either talk or eat and neither as well as nearly all of you, although there was a day when I could and would do both at the same time (oldest of six kids, after all) and you would not be able to tell the difference. Now, you can. Not just because I become virtually un-understandable, but because if you are within a particular distance I am likely to feed you, involuntarily, as I speak, if you know what I mean and I think you do, if you have any rememberance of ever having been spit upon with someone else's food, or even watching their food fly onto your plate making your meal rather immediately and completely indedible as a result. My brother-in-law has cerebral palsy and I have sat next to him through many a meal over the years (34, according to my wife) and so I know what that is like. The only thing worse at the dining table is having someone of that status, and I put myself in it, of course, is to have someone of that status suddenly LAUGH while their oral cavities contain food, let's say, or, maybe worse, liquid, or, worse yet, food AND liquid.
It is unequivocally not a pretty site, whether the stuff comes via the mouth of the nose and even if it doesn't land on your particular plate you may decide that you are not only done but will also be skipping dessert.
That can be an advantage, though. (Not the flying-from-the-nose unedibles, but the realization of it and thus the change in behavior I am still trying to remember.) In recent meetings with people we had not met before except digitally, Phil being the latest, it happened that my wife was able to talk pretty much non-stop with the folks we were sharing bread with (there is always bread), and able to extract information I had no previous knowledge of, was able to retrieve a more complete and textured hisotry, was able to bring out parts of their personalities I might not have expected, and all to the good. After Sunday evening's dinner with Phil, for example, my respect for his travails over these last many years grew exponentially. There is much that he tends not to share in the online places where we talk. I was flabbergasted, frankly, by some of it (I like to get a 'flabbergasted' in a conversation now and then, just to make sure it does not die out: it is an excellent word that does not get enough air time in our current society... perhaps the cabal has something to do with that, I do not know.)
Speaking of which, we were together, the three of us, Corrine, Phil, and myself and Dean Koontz might suggest that the triune kept the evil spirits away. I cannot say. I can only say that there were no weird incidents Sunday evening, none that I was aware of, unless you count those eerily quiet Sunday night streets in what is purpoted to be a thriving metropolis. It was not uneventful, because it was a really good time. Others have mentioned what a thrill it is to meet others that you have been speaking to "merely" online for forever and a day but never having met before. It was hard for me to grab that concept: how can sitting around a table stuffing your faces be a 'memorable' experience. But I had done it thrice now, and in each case I came away with that warm fuzzy, a really good feeling, and I notion that I would remember this person, these people, forever.
So far, I do :).
End of Part 2