Friday after work Jeff and I drove down to the Hampton Roads area to visit my dear friend Sheldon and his rocket scientist POSSLQ, Gretchyn, who hosted us in her/their enormous, gorgeous home.
Appropriately, given that this weekend was the 30th anniversary of D&D, Sheldon and I had first met in 1990 at a gaming store, where he was running an in-store AD&D game I joined; by the next year he and his then-wife, Lisa, and I were sharing a townhouse in Arlington, and two years after that the three of us and my partner at the time, Jay, rented a house together, where we lived until Sheldon and Lisa were transferred by the Air Force in 1994 to a NATO installation in Belgium. They were my family, and I still feel closer to Shel in many ways–despite having been separated by ten years and, first, an ocean and later a continent when they were transferred back to the States, but to Alaska–than anyone except Jeff. So it’s nice to have him back relatively close, even if we don’t see or talk all that often.
It was a wonderful, restful weekend. The drive down and back weren’t so relaxing, of course–travelling on I-95 is rarely pleasant or speedy, after all–but once we were there everything was great. Since moving to Europe and back Sheldon has become quite the oenophile, and always has a really nice bottle or two at the ready–when we arrived shortly after 11pm Friday night, he had a nice Châteauneuf-du-Pape open and breathing and–even better, to my less sophisticated palate–an old vines Zinfandel once we’d finished off the first bottle.
Saturday we had a tasty lunch–one of the best She-Crab soups I’ve yet eaten accompanied by a pot of my favorite smoky Lapsang Souchong–at the delightful Victorian Painted Lady tea room and restaurant in Norfolk–marred only slightly by the unceasingly shrill chatter of the Junior Leaguish young Republican ladies lunching at the nearby tables in their little black dresses, Manolo Blahniks and pearls.
After a trip back to the house for an afternoon nap, we saw the absolutely outrageously crude but very funny Team America: World Police and then treated Shel and Gretchyn, for their hospitality, to a delicious dinner–albeit with less than inspiring service–at Brutti’s in Portsmouth’s Olde Towne. I had the wonderfully rare Sesame Encrusted Tuna, served with a (perhaps just a tad too mild) wasabi creme fraiche over deliciously seasoned “smashed” potatoes. Jeff had the Filet Mignon au Poivre, while Gretchyn had the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and Sheldon the Cioppino; everyone was extremely complimentary about their entrees. After dinner we returned home where we opened a wonderful half-bottle of Muscat from Victoria (I’m a sweet wine freak)–in fact, I just went and poured some brandy snifterfuls for Jeff and me from Saturday night’s leftovers. I feel so civilized, so Ewan McGregor in Down With Love.
Sunday was the real treat, though. After sleeping in, we woke to the sounds and smells of Gretchyn cooking the most amazing brunch–fresh cranberry scones with choice of lemon curd, fresh whipped cream or cinnamon honey butter; Belgian waffles with the same toppings but adding honey-marinated strawberries as well; and an amazing vegetable-Gouda savory cheesecake. Accompanied by crema coffee from their automatic espresso machine (something now on Jeff’s and my wish list) and Sheldon’s “Pointsettias”–his version of a Mimosa made with champagne and sparkling cranberry-infused water rather than orange juice–it was one of the very best home-cooked meals I’ve had in my life.
As though the weekend couldn’t get any better, Shel and Gretchyn then sent us on our way not only with the remainder of the Muscat and a bottle of the Zinfandel from Friday night, but also with a spare 42-bottle wine refrigerator–no longer needed since they installed their own enormous climate-controlled cellar–that fit both nicely in the back of the Prius and comfortably now next to the microwave stand in the kitchen. We love it, and feel so much more cosmopolitan now.
The only truly bad thing about the weekend–aside from the realization that we don’t live there full-time in order to enjoy Gretchyn’s cooking on a daily basis–was discovering that Alex not only had gotten sick and thrown up in the bedroom, but that he was a little diarrheac as well–after one of his visits to the litterbox after we got home, I discovered that his tail was covered in feces, which he then proceeded to trail on the carpet. It was a real mess trying to get him clean, and then the carpets, and he fought me–hissing and spitting–as I tried to clean his tail, having to resort eventually to cutting off huge chunks of shit-matted fur, such that he now looks, from certain angles, like he’s had an appointment with a particularly avant garde pet groomer. Not the most pleasant way to end the weekend, to be sure, but the experience certainly showed me that Jeff is a (super) trouper and definitely considers himself to be part of this family, as he pitched right in to help clean up the mess, and to help hold Alex while I wielded the scissors. I ♥ you, babe.
Now it’s home for just a few days before heading West to California for Jeff’s college reunion and my first meeting with the in-laws. Yoiks!