Monday, March 2, 2009

A Sunday Evening in Portland: Supper at Wildwood

Once in a while, Dolly-girl gets in her mind that we ought to go out for supper, just by ourselves, on Sunday night. Last night was one of those times, so we got in the roadster and headed across the river to a joint we’d been to a couple a times where she and a girl friend from that side of town slip into for lunch more often than not when they get together. Too far to walk, but good enough to drive. The neighborhood is, what do those magazines call it?—tony—but that don’t mean it don’t see what we don’t see, it fact it does see a lot of what we don’t see, follow? It's a different sorta place over there, and it makes me pat my pocket, but maybe for a different reason than you're thinking--on it?

We walked into the joint—Wildwood, it’s called. We picked it this time ‘cause a Moll I know, from a guy I have to call from time to time, took a shine to Dolly-girl and gave us an it’s-on-me for the holidays. Like I said, it’s across the river and we don’t come over here that often ‘cause it's crowded but this place has got a place you can do a Pennsylvania pull-through in case you're in a New Jersey hurry.

It was quiet. I took off my jacket and patted the pockets. Wrong jacket. No heater. And I left my Kodak at home. Damn. The food might be good. The story might be jake. But the pictures were coming from my blower and that means it ain’t gonna be pretty.

The Maître d’, a chiquita who sounded like she’d had a good day up to the time she had to come to work and it hadn’t gotten so bad after that, led us through the bar where a couple couples were into skidrow and burgers. They didn't give us the half-over, so I knew he was like me--just out for supper. Skidrow and burgers, that’s not a combo you see everyday on our side of the river. She took us into the back and settled us in a high-back bench booth. The booth was good. We couldn’t see anyone and no one could see us, but I could see where we came from and Dolly-girl could see where we’d be going if we had to. Plus it’s Sunday supper. Bring on the beans.

Dolly-girl wanted to start with Corona—“You’re talking to the tap jockey tonight?” That’s strange, she’s skidrow when it comes to drinks. “It’s something to start with—fried beans.” Hmm, fried beans. This doesn’t seem like a Mexican place to me. The Missy, a guy who seemed like he knew his way around, brought us our Bull Runs and a whadda-ya-drinking. I picked. “Dolly-girl want’s the crispy white and I’ll take a red that can walk over here by itself. “Gotcha. Food?” “Plate of coronas and check back.” “Gotcha.”

We looked over the whaddya-wants and Missy brought the skidrow and the plate of beans. No limes with these Coronas—just butterbeans fried crispy and some kinda dunk for them—Dolly-girl said it was pumpkin. Dijon would have hit the spot I was looking at, follow? We looked at each other. We ordered. “Gotcha.”

Missy brought me a half bowl of the best Murphy and leek slurp-it-up I’ve ever had—I coulda quit there, not 'cause of what was coming, but what had been. "Told you to go light, there's more in the alley," he said. He was right and I'll remember. He slid a bale of cowfeed in front of Dolly-girl. It had some thin sliced Italian porker and walnuts, and if you know Dolly-girl, you know that smile that was on her face.

Missy kept an eye on us from the side and just when we figured it was time, he showed up with some more—some kinda Chef Boyardee for Dolly-girl, she had some fancy name for it, and the short end of a rib on some squashed, and it was squashed—pure-a—Dolly-girl told me. Missy called Dolly-girl's plate an agnolotti and she seemed happy that it was full of roots of some sort or another. As for me, I’ll tell you, this adam had been basking in the skidrow for some time.

By now I’m looking around and thinking, “Hey, it said supper on the whaddaya-want, but this ain’t like no supper they put in front of you on Sunday in my part of town. I’m guessing nothin’ came out of a box, no fish sticks, and no TV trays in sight...” “Mind yourself!” Dolly-girl was having a good time, I could tell by the look I got through the hair in a wave on her face over her eye and above her Chef. I shut my trap.

I was on the backside of done and glad that trouble was taking a night off. I couldn’t have chased a shot with a beer after that supper. Dolly-girl pushed her plate aside halfway and said, “I’m thinking they’ve been thinking of what I’ve been thinking I might want--with me?” Dessert.

They brought her a shakey with some sliced syracuse, green nuts, and some honey she just kept calling “Rosemary”. I’m thinking I’m in Citizen Kane, right?

Missy checked in on us, left us the damage, and we settled up. Thanks to the Moll, it was a Grant instead of three minus a Jackson, and we were out the door. A lot more than the usual Sunday supper, but, at Wildwood, you always get what you came for, than more than you asked for. I took Dolly-girl’s arm, stepped into the night, fired a Lucky, and headed across the river to our side of town.


Ronna said...

Hey Dolly-girl and I lunched there a few years back. Wish you had been along...

Newsman said...

Cripes, lad!
Those are some fine photos, considering they were taken with a blower.