Monday, November 05, 2007

Solid Gold!

Friday night I had to wait for Matt to come pick me up at work until about 6 o'clock. It is so sad to be the last person in an entire three floors still working on a Friday night. Sadder still is attempting to silently eat a popcorn ball that was given to you as a promotional thing meant for Monday morning. I couldn't help myself! I was STARVING. Worse yet was that I was unsure when Matt would be arriving. I'd loaned him the convert to take it down to Winona to meet with a woman about his upcoming internship with the uber cool Land Stewardship Project.
Once he (finally) arrived, I was whisked away to Little Szechwan in St. Paul for a super spicy dinner. They continue to do right by me. We started with an appetizer of pork strips that were served a little cool with a molten chili sauce on top. They were slivers of sweet pork me with a thin layer of fat, glistening atop each piece. It was fantastic.
We also had the Chung King Chili Shrimp which is battered, fried and also served with a spicy sauce. These were so sweet and tender - served piping hot. It was a lovely foil for the pork. We leisurely sipped our small tea cups and I tried to squint in the bright lights to pretend it was more romantic than it was. Still, I continue to be hooked on this food more seriously than Pete Doughtrey needs a nap.
After another lovely meal, we decided to go to Mancini's for a quick cocktail. I love their bar. It's the perfect place to work up a good martini buzz and the people watching just couldn't be better. Friday night was no exception - in fact, this was the best people watching this side of the state fair.
Now, you would think, it's just a few nice older people out for a good time. Oh, no, this is the Patpong of the East Side. It started out calmly - Matt & I were the only two people occupying a booth when we first arrived. I ordered a White Russian and fiddled with my filberts. (A Caucasian is the only rival to a martini for perfect sipping drink in this room.) Soon, the musicians trickled in. The poster advertising the Midas Touch made them look like a Wayne Newton cover band, but upon closer inspection, not one of these guys had even a passing resemblance. Who photoshops a picture to look like Wayne Newton? That's like trying to pass for K Fed - why would you DO that? I was even more confused when the lead singer strapped on an accordion. What!? Did I just stumble in to Nye's?
"Would you like another drink?"
I popped the last filbert into my mouth, "Oh, hell yeah!"
This was outstanding, and soon the room began to fill. There were ladies of a certain age, either married or widowed - all probably baby boomers. And men that were mostly sporting their own hair.
The lights went down... and the band started up. The disco ball began to twirl, casting multicolored shadows on the lovely ladies faces. The men circled and the crooner up on stage opened his mouth. Holy God in heaven - who taught this guy to SING!? He'd announce a tune in the vein of Nat King Cole, but it was more like Buddy Guy was wooing a seagull! He'd swoop from crooner style to Jimmy Buffet and then over to Bobby Darin without a moments notice! And then the keyboard solo started and I lost it! I didn't want them to see me, because contrary to how horrible that picture was, we were pretty close to the stage. At the time I didn't realize that they've been doing this for years - I didn't want to hurt anybody's feelings. But, now that I know that they've been appearing every Friday night since the Carter Administration, I feel a little more comfortable guffawing from afar. At the time, I just clamped my mouth shut and shook while the tears rolled down my face. I clapped loudly at the end of each song while gasping for breath.
The crowd was even better, because these people were GOOD. It began, as any dance is prone to do, with mostly the ladies taking the floor. Slowly, the men circled, in shark skin jackets and shrinking pompadours. Soon, they were paring up and swirling around the floor. I didn't see a single clumsy person except the one lone girl under 40, who was inexplicably marching in the corner. They were jitterbugging and two stepping. What a show! And the ladies were really dolled up. There was the spunky one, short and slightly stocky, I'd guess that she does a lot of power walking. She was swingin' in her skin tight taupe shirt and pants duo, accented by a leopard print belt. There was the distinguished and very popular lady in the silver shirt and black pants combo. The kooky divorcees, the charming widows and the odd marching girl, not one of them was hard up for a dancing partner.
The men were also dressed to the nines. They were funnier, though and a little more similar in looks. Gray hair - only a couple lucky enough to have any adorning the crown of their heads, though - sport jacket and khaki's. I would guess that most of them were divorced with only a few widowers thrown in for good measure.
The elegant woman sat with a friend of hers in the table in front of us. I would say by their body language that they had been friends for a very long time. The pluckiest of all the fellows was attempting to dazzle her with magic tricks involving a red pen light and a quarter. She was bemused. Another gentleman, who kept trying to rearrange the tables near the bar area, tried to get in on the act. He seemed to know everyone there, but it was still too early for him to commit to a dance partner. Meanwhile, the Magic Man was focusing his efforts a little too much on Elegance and not enough to be polite attention on Friend. I recognized this - I've been there! Granted, it was usually at the CC or Chang O'Hara's, but I've in the Friend's position about a million times. It's always funny until it gets old. The ladies were starting to tire. Magic Man seemed to get this and was pulling away from them, when he turned back and pointed at Elegance, "Don't you ditch!"
"Oh, I won't," she replied coyly before giggling at her friend.
"You're not going to ditch?"
"Oh, no." He was getting tiresome.
He approached the bar before making his way back to the ladies. He knelt down in front of Elegance and said, "Would you make love to me?"
WHAT!? Matt's eyes bulged - we were not that far away from their table and now right in the guy's line of vision.
Elegance remained coy.
"C'mon, will you? Will you make love to me? Don't worry - I've got plenty of Viagra!" At that announcement, he raised his voice so that pretty much everyone in the room could hear him.
Ah, geez, dude! Nobody wants to know that! Plus, he'd totally thrown his game off. Now, she was most definitely going to ditch him and the half a dozen other gentlemen in their approximate area knew this as well. He'd messed it up. He'd tried too hard.
I had to get another drink - I mean really - could you pull yourself away from this kind of first hand drama? Another couple sat down at the booth next to us, breathless from another turn around the dance floor to the tune of Kokomo. "Wow, it's really hot in here!" she said. "It's almost hotter than last weekend!"
"Yeah, but that was right off the main island," her friend replied. "It should be hotter in Hawaii."
"That and we did have less clothing covering our skin."
WHAT!? Did she just say that? Wait, where are the ventilation ducts in this room? Are they pumping something into this air? What is going on in here? People, it's only 7:30? Shouldn't the round up be saved until at least... well, let's say 9. I know they've probably got earlier bed times, but they just aren't we going a little bit warp speed here?
The Magic Man was back, "Oh, c'mon! One more! One more!"
Elegance demurred.
"What are you going to dance with this guy!" He pointed at a guy who seemed to be just minding his own business watching the floor, trolling. "Just look at him dressed up like Joe College!" He was wearing a navy blue sport coat with gold buttons over a button down shirt and khakis.
The well dressed guy just smiled, seeming to notice his window of opportunity. "What are you saying?"
"Look how good you look! Hard to believe he's only 80, isn't it!?" This question was directed right to me, which I was not expecting. I'm sure I had an idiot look on my face, 80? Wow, he looks good for - wait a minute! That guy's not a day over 65.
Matt chimed in, "Hey! It's a good look." He'd dressed up for his internship meeting. He was wearing, a navy blue blazer with gold buttons, a button down shirt and khaki's.
Oh my God, I married my father.
The men all laughed and us ladies subtly rolled our eyes to one another. My attention went back to the stage when he started up with a Willy Nelson song, "Maybe I didn't love you.... justasmuchasishooooooooooould HAVE!"
Matt excused himself to go to the bathroom while I continued to try to decide, do I stare or do I close my eyes and eavesdrop! There's just too much weirdness to go around!
He returned laughing.
"Ah... nothing."
"So, I go in there, right? And there's a line full of dudes all at the urinals..."
"Yeah..." I love bathroom stories.
"And they're all just standing there TRYING to take a piss." Ooooo, prostrate humor.
Oh, God, how did we get in here?
"My mom would love this place. Hey, we should bring your mom in here! She'd have to beat them away with a stick!" Both are widows and I'm telling you, they are some good lookin' ladies. They would KILL in this joint.
"Just wait until the Shalom Home opens down West 7th."
Wow. And people were worried about the smoking ban hurting Mancini's? I think these guys just might make it after all.


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