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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

I DOUBLE D’AIR YA!
6/4/2011 5:09:03 AM
Our friend David Roberts, Turner Broadcasting’s “voice over” specialist, invited us recently to join him for a Sunday matinee performance of UNTAMED, by the D’AIR Aerial Dance Ensemble.

As I detest amateur theater, I did not want to go.

My wife explained our other close friend Cayla (Marilyn) Allen was D’AIR’s artistic advisor and stage director, and “she also did the costumes. And,” my wife further explained, “the pianist will be none other than David Savage,” another notable and esteemed friend. “Besides, the tickets are already purchased, so you’re going — and that’s that!”

“And further besides,” Dave Roberts said, “we’ll all go to dinner afterwards. And if you’re a good boy, we’ll even take you to R. Thomas’s Deluxe Grill! It’s all on me!”

He had said the magic words. Begrudgingly, I acquiesced. I’m glad I did.

The show, a sort of low-budget Circ du Soliel, was held in the sanctuary of an abandoned church, a structure of historical vintage in the rebounding neighborhood of Grant Park. The cast of dancers, vaguely thought of (by me) as amateurs, were, in reality, young professionals ranging from a sultry belly dancer to a trained ballerina from Ohio’s Ballet Met, to a champion tumbler and hip-hop aficionado, to an accomplished acrobat from musical theater. Whadda I know?

The performance was a mesmerizing delight. With the exception of the Corps d’Contortion, a group of enthusiastic teenage locals, the principals exhibited a collaborative strength that created a seamless production that was entertaining as well as rewarding.

Unexpectantly, this unique dance ensemble told a story even the youngest in the audience identified with, and although none of us left whistling the tunes, all of us were muscle-drained and exhausted from witnessing theatrical high-jinks on aerial fabrics, trapezes, ropes, chains, hoops, ladders and other apparatus hanging frighteningly high above the stage.

Theater arts’ critic Steve Seiberg was on target when he wrote D’AIR Aerial Dance Ensemble offered what “must be the most original performance piece in town.”

However, we did not go to dinner at R. Thomas’s Deluxe Grill after all. Oliver, Roberts’s son, suggested the Carroll Street Café, nearby to the ancient church in Grant Park; his friend Monica Miller explained I-85N was “right there, around the corner, and we’ll be homeward bound in no time!”

It turned out to be another “find” of rapturous impact. Carroll Street is an offshoot of Boulevard SE; it’s about four feet wide and a couple blocks long. On one side are quaint houses of neat purples, greens, yellows and grays, which reminded me of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. The other side is made up of restaurants and bars, all with limited parking. There is, crowding the sidewalk, a fashionably lit palm tree and a huge oak with grotesque burls and gnarls. Ironically, Carroll Street is a 2-way thoroughfare upon which cars traveling in opposite directions cannot pass each other simultaneously. Go figure.

The café was eclectic, grungy, noisy, crowded and frenetic; it seemed as though everyone who is anyone in Atlanta was there. The food, to my ecstatic surprise, was incomparable, as was the service.

Our server was one of the five most beautiful women on earth, and Dave Roberts said, correctly, she should be in Hollywood. I concurred, muttering under my breath, “And I have just the part for her.”

Gazing at her tummy, I asked when she expected her baby. “I’m not pregnant!” she replied. “I’m not even married!”

My wife rescued me. “Forgive my husband. He just became a grandfather again, and he thinks every woman under thirty is pregnant — or should be!”

We had Kobe burgers — all except Ollie’s friend Monica and another couple — Brad was his name, but I never caught that of his lady friend (alas, she too was unpregnant!), although I did learn she was soon graduating from law school and taking the bar exam. Useful information squirreled away for purposes no one, including me, understood.

Before leaving for home I made my way to the men’s room, a singular cubicle at the far end of a dark passageway. It was, to my delight, immaculate and contained items worth mentioning: the paper towel dispenser and the sink and faucet.

The dispenser was electronic, and when you pushed a certain button, the paper inside unrolled and came out quickly. No tugging or ripping with wet, desperate hands! The sink was a huge acrylic, transparent salad bowel you hated to soil, and the adjacent spigot was a stainless steel marvel from some Isaac Asimov short story. I washed my hands eleven times.

Dining at the Carroll Street Café was memorable, and we remained there longer than we had at D’air’s UNTAMED. It was nearly 9 o’clock when we got home, after a Sunday to savor.

Several weeks later, while dining at a relative’s house, I tried in vain to describe that marvelous Sunday. I couldn’t remember the name of the quaint café, but again my wife saved me.

“It was,” she said, “the Collins Street Café.”

“Of course,” I replied. “Just off Bolivar Street. In Garfield Park. Like downtown. Gotta go back there sometime.” Provided I could find it, which we all know is impossible.


Copyright©2011 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved


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