We had to see “The History Boys” at the Studio, because we missed our original date and were running out of time. It was auspicious that we got the parking space right across from the theater’s door on P Street, when we went to the box office at 6 to get stand-by tickets. We were numbers 3 and 4.
The weather was nice, and we decided to walk up to St.-X for dinner. We sat inside, and watched the restaurant quickly fill up. The roasted beet salad which we split, and the simple roasted chicken and pecan crusted halibut were excellent. I had a glass of French syrah. I thought I could use a little more, and asked Heather our very friendly waitress if it would be possible to get a second glass, filled “to here” (as a pointed with my finger). She looked at meet doubtfully but said she would ask. The bartender refused to give in. It would be another full $7 glass or nothing. It was nothing. Bad form, I thought, bad for customer relations. Then I asked for an espresso, to be told that they had very good coffee but no espresso machine. This also seemed wrong. This is a trendy restaurant named for a famed French writer/aviator, and they should serve a full range of European style coffees. That seems obvious to me (and to Heather, I think). But they don’t. (Of course, compared to the total lack of hot beverages of any kind at Granville Moore’s…..).
But back to the wine. While I was getting out my credit card, Heather brought a small amount of wine in a glass to one of the fellows sitting at the next table. “Foul”, I cried. “No”, she said, “he wasn’t getting a half-glass; he was getting a taste.” “Oh”, I said, “I made a semantic error? I shouldn’t have asked for a glass “up to here”, but should have simply asked for another taste?” “Well, the bartender wouldn’t have given you a taste of something you had already tasted.” “So I could have asked for a taste of something else”, I said, not trying to be obnoxious, but simply wanting to understand the system for next time. “No”, she said, “I don’t think that would work either.” “Well, what if E. (who did not have any syrah) asked for a taste of syrah?”, I said, going the next logical step. “Almost,” she said, “but we have a presumption of sharing here at St.-X”. Then she complemented E. on her companion, saying that I seemed like I was much better to be with than those old sticks-in-the-mud she usually winds up serving. That mollified me a bit, I guess.
“The History Boys”, by British playwright Allan Bennett won 6 Tonys in 2006. Its run at the Studio has been extended twice, and now goes through, I believe, June 1 at least. An English boys boarding school. The headmaster wants to get his students into Oxford or Cambridge. His “general studies” teacher (Floyd King) believes in education for the sake of education, not for the sake of examination success. A new teacher is brought in who believes that examination success can be, and should be, taught, even at the expense of factual, substantive education. It is a comedy with intellectual overtones. Or maybe a tragedy with comic overtones. I did not like it at all. I thought it pretentious and shallow at the same time, and very artificial. I would have been better off staying at St.-X, and having a second, full glass of syrah.
Meanwhile, the growth on 14th Street continues apace, albeit without Candide’s travel book store, which recently closed. We wondered if her rent was increased so she became a victim of success, or if the store simply couldn’t make it and her savings (or inheritance) finally ran out. But we saw a new tapas restaurant is coming into the Virdiana space, a new restaurant “Cork” opened up (we had a short talk with one of the friendly owners who strolled outside; I bet he will allow you to get 1/2 glass as a second on your wine), and Pixies, formerly a small store in Adams Morgan, has opened a large new store with all sorts of intriguing do-dads for your house.