First Friday

by Rob Tiller

Last night was First Friday, Raleigh’s monthly celebration of its downtown food, music, and art scene.  Despite the heat wave, thousands of people were out.  At Moore Square, there was a two-girl circus act in which one lay on her back, legs raised,  and the other got on top and balanced in various ways with a big smile.  In City Market, there was an oldies rock band, and the listeners were mostly middle-aged.  But at Art Space, there was a thick crowd of twenty-somethings, many with unsettling tattoos.

Sally and I had dinner at Gravy, which features reliable Italian comfort food in a hip brick-walled and oak package.  Among other things, we talked about the problem that large food portions served in most restaurants pose for American eaters.  Partly because of too many business meals recently, I’d again picked up three pounds I didn’t want to carry about. This inspired my latest eating experiment:  cutting off about a third of my food before beginning to eat, and leaving that third on the plate at the end.  The eggplant pie (thin breaded eggplant with marinara and ricotta) was really tasty, but more than I needed, and I’m sure I’d have eaten it all if I hadn’t established a visible stopping place.

I was taught as a child not to leave food on my plate, which was supported with the moral note that children were starving in Africa.  It did not occur to me until much later that the tragedy of starving children was not going to be mitigated by over-eating, which would itself cause obesity, illness, and premature death.  But changing those early ingrained eating habits requires more than recognizing their lack of justification; you have to replace them with other, better, habits.  We’ll see if this cut-a-third system works.

After dinner we looked in some galleries and then strolled back to our neighborhood.  We stopped at Second Empire and had cocktails in their classic bar.  It turns out that stop lights that are mistimed and clog traffic are one of Sally’s pet peeves, and we discussed them for a while.  We got back to our building around eleven.  Just a few steps from our door, in front of the Still Life club, there was a lively scene, with girls with high heels, long legs, and very short black dresses coming or going.  Sally noted as she took Stuart out for his last pee of the day that she wanted to have another look at those dresses.