Dinner and a Movie and a Spilt Glass of Wine.

by klparry


Warning! I’ve had four glasses of chardonnay. That does not include the one the lady at the theater spilt on me.

 Oh, I am going to tell you about that, and give an accounting of an evening gone wrong, that went right.

I wrote those first two paragraphs, and quite a bit more, on Saturday night after returning home from an evening out. Fortunately for all of us, I made a few revisions before I decided to post it.

It all started with plans to meet up with friend Jeff at 5:30 that evening. We were to drive 10 minutes to this restaurant I had recently discovered, partake in a meal, and then drive another 10 minutes to make a 7:10 showing of Revenant. It was a pretty simple plan that still somehow ran afoul. That began at the restaurant.

In retrospect, maybe an hour and twenty isn’t an adequate allotment of time for a restaurant dinner. If so, blame California’s restaurant industry for conditioning me in that “herd ’em in, feed em’ and get them out as quickly as possible so the next group can be seated” mentality. But I digress. Let’s get back to my story.

I had come across this super cool looking restaurant hidden behind a fence of tall shrubby earlier this month and had been dying to try the food. Named The Stage, the eatery describes itself as a California Fusion Restaurant offering Mediterranean flavors alongside traditional Southern California dishes such as Margherita Pizza and Baja Tacos. It is located at 546 South San Fernando Road, Burbank. Just south of Downtown Burbank and the once famed Golden Mall area.

The restaurant boasts a large out-door seating area with a central water fountain and rustic tables of varying sizes all flanked by the same rustic style padded chairs and unpadded benches. I did retrieve a pillow from my car after I found the bench I was sitting on too hard for my delicate derrière.

Awnings provide shade during the day and heaters provide warmth for patrons on cooler nights. They also have a nice little smoking patio for degenerates like myself and a quaint indoor dinning space.

Any who, the evening was cool and I had it in mind to sit in the cozy dinning room. But as luck would have it, the dinning room had been given over to a 50th Wedding Anniversary party. We were relegated to the front patio. Our server, accommodating my desire to stay warm, drew a heater near. Jeff ordered wine, which they had a decent though small selection off and I started with water. They also offered a variety of what looked to be craft beers. For our dinner, we opted to go family style and share a platter of skewed grilled meats and seafood recommended by our waiter, along with a simple salad of greens, apples and pears with a tarragon and lemon dressing on the side.

By the way, the combination of the liquorish flavored tarragon and lemon made a surprisingly good coupling. But I am getting ahead of myself.

So, there we are chatting about Bowie and Rickman, sharing memories of songs and movies while mellow jazz is broadcasting out over our heads. I’m seated comfortably on my pillow; the heater doing a good job of keeping the chill away. Everything is coming together to make for a relaxed and unhurried atmosphere. Had we the whole evening to dawdle away there it would have been nice, but that had not been our plan. There was a 7:10 movie to catch. A half hour passes. Jeff finishes his wine. He orders another and I’m ready for a smoke. 45 minutes pass and I’m wishing for some little snackies to stave-off my growing hunger. I’m beginning to worry that I might not get feed. And though I had not planned on drinking, I order a glass of wine. It settles me right down and on the hour mark our food begins to arrive.

Initially, there is a bit of a feeding frenzy as we try to rush through our meal. But you can’t just inhale that much skewered meat. Halfway through that dish our salad appears. It is 7:10 by the time the check is paid and we are walking to our car.

Yes, the food was flavorful and the wine was good, and I will definitely patronize The Stage again, but for now, we are running late.

I counted on having that 20 minutes of previews they always show before the actual movie starts, to get from the restaurant to the theater. What I did not count on was missing the turn that would have led me to the lot where I usually park. Instead, I follow a trail of cars down into a labyrinth of underground catacombs where, despite what the calculating neon sign reads; there is not a single available parking space to be had. The deep underground garage is disorientating, and freaking me out a little and I am relieved when I find my way out of it. I drive around the block, find another parking structure and park. Then it’s a race down 4 flights of stairs and out to the sidewalk. We cross the street and make our way to Burbank’s AMC16 Theaters at a pace anyone would find uncomfortable on a full stomach. Finally we are there and step in line. At this point I am wondering if there are any good seats left. I ask Jeff for the time.

“7:46,” he tells me.

Shit! 36 minutes past the listed start time for Revenant. That puts us 16 minutes past the 20 minute window.

“Bummer,” I think, and am ready to call it a night. There is no way I can make it through the next showing at 10:00 pm. Not after the wine and all that food.

It was Jeff’s idea that we see Sisters staring Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, the only movie with an 8:00pm show time.

I’m like, “Meeh, not interested.”

He’s like, “It could be the funniest movie ever!”

I am not convinced.

He buys tickets anyway. We take the escalator up to the main lobby and head straight for the bar.

Oh, yes! They have a full bar at my AMC Theaters.

Only a few short minutes later, drinks in hand, we go to find our theater. We chose two seats on the end of an isle because someone has to pee a lot, and it’s not me. I set my wine in the cup holder provided, freeing my hands to unwrap the ice cream bar I bought at concessions.

I know. I just told you how full I was. But there’s always room for Jello, and ice cream.

The previews are playing. I finish my ice cream bar. Jeff and I are chatting it up when a mother and adult daughter decide to step into our isle. Daughter passes by first. Mom follows carrying her luggage-sized purse on her arm. As she moves by me her purse catches on the left arm of my chair, the very arm holding my full glass of wine. Then, like a scene out of a horror movie, the purse attaches itself to the rim of my plastic wine cup. How is that possible! The cup sits only an inch above the cup holder. And yet I watch it lift up and out of the holder. I react with cat-like reflexes to catch the plastic cup between my fingertips. But, to no avail, I am no match against the force of Mega Purse’s power. Despite my attempt to avert disaster, the wine cup empties all over me in my new coat, and all over my purse that is sitting in the next seat, not to mention the seat itself.

“For F&*k’s sake!”

Now, the movie is about to start and I am freaking out. I leave to go clean up. Jeff leaves to get me another glass of wine. I return with a huge wad of paper towels in hand to sop up the spilt wine from the seats.

Shit! I am so mad!

And then the movie starts. Within ten minutes I am laughing. By the end of the movie, my fury has been extinguished and I am the one apologizing to the lady for being a bitch.

Well, that’s where it ends. It had been a strange night, filled with the unexpected, nothing going quite as planned. But it all worked out and aside from a few tense moments, I quite enjoyed it. The restaurant was great if a little slower than I am accustom to. And Jeff was right about the movie. Sisters is one of the funniest, laugh-out-loud films I have ever seen. I found it so relatable that I couldn’t help but love it. Jeff was laughing too.

~ K. L. Parry

Author of The Pirate’s Daughter And A King’s Ransom

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