Whirlygig: 83: Out on the Town

Wedding rehearsal dinner at Aioli puts cloud of smoke over other restaurant guests

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Mary had a great idea for a romantic Friday this week: Tour the Contemporary Arts Center between 7 and 9 p.m. and then go out for a quick bite to eat after the dinner rush calmed down. We even found free Rock-star parking about a block away from the CAC.

When we walked up to the CAC, I nearly bumped my head on the automatic door, very much like a Star Trek blooper, when the door didn't open. It turns out that the open times printed in CityBeat are wrong and the CAC closes at 6 p.m. on Fridays instead of 9 p.m. (Editor's Note: Times appearing in CityBeat were taken directly from the CAC's official Web site.)

Since it was such a perfect day turning into night, I suggested we just walk from the CAC across downtown and go to Aioli's for dinner. For some reason I thought it was on the corner of Fifth and Elm streets, so I added an extra five minutes to our walk through romantic downtown. Aioli's, as it turns out, is actually on the corner of Seventh and Elm.

We didn't have reservations for dinner and the main dining room was full, so the hostess sat us in the bar area. There wasn't anybody there, so it was like having a whole restaurant to ourselves.

The décor in Aioli's is very interesting. The walls are painted dark purple. Each of the windows had red heavy velvet curtains. There are red teardrop light fixtures hanging down from the ceilings over each of the five two-person tables in the bar area. It made me want to redecorate my living room in the same color pattern.

Mary had already eaten a little something for dinner, so all she ordered was the cheese plate for one and a Scotch. I was hungry, so I ordered the wild mushroom ravioli for an appetizer and pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potatoes for an entrée. Our ravioli came out fairly quickly and we ate it just as fast.

We sat around talking for 10 minutes waiting for our entrées to come, then the waiter brought us a bowl of bread. We sat talking and playing footsies for another 15 minutes before our waiter returned. He told us that there was a wedding rehearsal dinner with 24 people whose dinners were ahead of ours so we would have to wait for a little while longer. He then apologized and promised to buy our desserts.

While we waited, a little 4-year-old girl in a summer dress, most likely the ring bearer in the wedding party, started running around the bar area by herself without any adult supervision. She then started playing with the two swinging doors that lead into Aioli's. I went into a Mallrats-type spiel about the dangers of a child catching their fingers in swinging doors that made Mary laugh. She didn't realize that I was actually quite serious. I got my finger caught in a very similar door when I was 5 and lost my thumbnail. I don't kid around when it comes to door safety.

I was very happy when our food finally arrived. I was nearly orgasmic when I tasted my first bite of pork tenderloin, and I was even happier with the sweet potatoes. I never knew sweet potatoes could taste so good.

I was nearly finished with my meal when two women from the wedding rehearsal came out to the bar for a smoke break. The other tables were still empty at that time, but the girls still decided to walk right up to our table, bump into my chair and start an inane conversation about wedding dresses. The first three sentences out of one of the girl's mouth all started with the phrase, "Like, oh my God!"

I was only mildly irritated with the two girls at first, but then they started blowing their cigarette smoke right over my plate. There was literately a cloud of smoke that settled right over my dinner plate.

I tapped the Sarah Jessica Parker wannabe on the shoulder and asked her to move to one of the four empty tables in the bar area if she wanted to smoke. She was actually mad that I asked her to move away from me while she smoked. I thought it was adorable when she tried to stare me down. After a couple of seconds she just huffed, grabbed her friend and went outside to finish her smoke.

I can't remember the name of what Mary ordered for dessert, but it had caramelized apples, some sort of sorbet and raspberries. I just ordered a glass of sherry. After we paid our bill, I realized we'd just had a very French-styled dinning experience — small courses spread out over nearly two hours with a lot of smoke blown in your face.

— R.L. Newman

Walking the Walk
Talk is cheap. At least it is if you don't exceed your wireless network's allowable minutes on your cell phone plan. Seriously, I'm talking about talking the talk and not walking the walk. It's easy to say it but much harder to do it.

Case in point is a girlfriend who's always lamenting that she wants to be in a relationship but she doesn't put herself out in the dating world. Mary Poppins doesn't just appear on the doorstep of homes looking for nannies, and Mr. Right isn't going to find her in Apt. 2B in Mount Lookout. I might win the Mega-Million before he knocks on her door, but I'm not holding my breath.

On Tuesday, above mentioned girlfriend and I had lunch at Chipotle in Blue Ash. Her favorite topic of discussion — whom I'm dating — came up midway through the burrito that would feed a small country. She said I'm her hero due to the fact that I date and maintain a personal life apart from career and family. I cautioned her that I spend more than a few nights alone at the movies alone or with a good book, but I indulged her with a recent meeting at Annie Bolling's Gallery opening.

Since there really wasn't much to tell her about the tall handsome gallery guy except that he likes to chat on the phone and says he wants to see me, I turned the tables and asked her what she'd been up to lately. "Nothing much" was all she could offer, and she told me about her friends at work and her sister's kids.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. It's summer, even if the weather system has failed us of late. It's sure to get better. Let's start walking the walk, kiddo. If having a partner is the goal, then we have to go where the opposite sex goes and preferably a member of the opposite sex who likes what we like.

I asked Carly what kind of guy she has in mind. She said one that's alive would be nice and who doesn't live at home. Very funny. After some probing, we decided she likes fit and active types who are gainfully employed. Hey, this is a start. Her summer homework has begun.

Carly and I looked around our lunch spot and realized quite a few guys in attendance were on their lunch break. Just to make a point, I got up to the service area to grab some more salsa and struck up a conversation with the suit getting napkins. Carly's eyes got wide. She shook her head. I agreed he might not be as fit as she likes when I got back to our table, but I offered up the idea that his friends sitting outside would do in a pinch.

She assured me that she just isn't good at making idle chatter. I assured her that it doesn't have to be idle. It's just an exercise in getting outside of ourselves. Truth be told, I asked the guy which salsa he liked and brought that one back to the table. He didn't bite me. He actually smiled and gave me a dissertation on salsa. The point is that I was talking to a guy I didn't know while I was living my life.

It was time to nudge Carly out of her comfort zone and challenge her a bit to see if she really wants what she says she does — a guy to read the Sunday paper with and go to First Watch with for eggs on the weekends. My theory is that if you do what you like with regularity, you'll find others doing the same things if you take off your blinders and talk to people. It could be that the person you chat up has a cute brother or an office pal who's just perfect, and the networking begins.

Carly agreed to try my concept and dust off her roller blades for summer. I told her about a group that meets on Loveland Bike Trail for organized blading. It's up to her to find out the who, what and details.

After all, she's buying lunch next week if this is all idle chatter and she hasn't at least given it a whirl. If nothing else, Carly gets some exercise. Plus we have new stuff to talk about on our lunch hour.

— Wendy Robinson

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