I could tell you about reuniting with “the girls” at Social. I could tell you about sand between my toes and Shem Creek dolphin-watching with my family. Or maybe the fact that Charleston left me a reminder: bronchitis and an ear infection. Fact is the trip was too chock-full of good stuff to tell you about the whole thing. So instead, I’m going to tell you about the best day: Thursday, June 23rd.
The day began with grocery shopping. Jake and I needed ingredients for mojitos. We headed to Crickentree: the apartment complex I first called home in SC, where I met current resident and amazing gal, Becky. Becky, her sister Mary, and I used to spend afternoons by the Crickentree pool, so in homage to those days, we did it again on Thursday. Although Becky was under the weather, Mary, Jake, and I concocted our beverages and spent the early afternoon floating around a clear pool. We talked as if not a day had passed, and we laughed (when was I not laughing with Mary?) until finally, it was announced Jake and I had to leave for our “date.”
Our “date” was simple—I told Jake we would go wherever he wanted to go in downtown Charleston, before heading to my brother’s gig at The Pour House at 9 PM. We began our tour at Magnolia’s on East Bay. Magnolia’s is a classic Charleston restaurant, known for expensive lowcountry dining, white tablecloths, and pleasant wait staff. Jake and I ordered a bowl of Blue Crab Bisque—a fancy name for She Crab Soup. She Crab is maybe the most famous dish in Charleston, and it should be. It’s damn delicious. The key ingredient? Crab eggs. Although Magnolia’s Blue Crab was good, the best She Crab is at Mistral on Market, which tragically no longer exists.
Next, we were off to Pearlz, where we each did an oyster shooter, composed of Pearlz special blend of pepper vodka, cocktail sauce, spices, and a huge raw oyster. I did about a dozen oyster shooters last week, which still wasn’t enough. I also enjoyed a bubbly glass of champagne, while looking out over the slate sidewalks and pastel paint of lower East Bay Street.
Stepping outside, we took a moment to wander past Rainbow Row and into The Battery. I came to realize on this trip that I don’t miss Charleston as much as I thought I did. I don’t miss the tourist hubbub. I DO NOT miss the humidity. I don’t miss the packed bars and lack of taxis. However, I do very much miss walking through The Battery, up Church Street, and over to Broad. I miss the look and feel of Charleston, but I’m not sure I could ever move back.
We headed to dinner at Bocci’s, an Italian restaurant down Church Street off Market. The food wasn’t mind-blowing, but the ambience made the place, as did the sudden (and very Charleston-esque) thunderstorm that descended with no warning outside. I love this about Charleston. I love that it’s sunny one moment and a deluge the next. In Charleston, the streets don’t get wet when it rains; the streets flood. I’ve seen it, first-hand, and I even used to know which streets to avoid when driving home because I knew they’d be two feet under water.
Jake and I paid our tab and ran outside, having missed the lightning and thunder now that we live in the desert. We walked down to Amen Street (it’s a bar; not an actual street). We did two more oyster shooters and headed to McCrady’s—a classy pub hidden down an alley. When we lived in Charleston, Jake and I spent many a quiet pre-party evening sipping scotch, just the two of us. Even the smell of the place reminded me of conversations once shared when Jake and I were still just two semi-strangers, learning each another.
At 8:30, we headed across the water to James Island, where Matt Dobie and his band were set to play at The Pour House. Matt is the lead vocalist and guitar player for Gangrene Machine. They’re four crazy dudes who play funk/psychedelic/rock music, featuring creepy lyrics, occasional costuming, and a wild headman. Matt Dobie? Wild? You heard me. If you met my brother off-stage, you’d think he was a low-key, funny, shy guy. Once on stage, he becomes a head-banging, dancing, theatrical genius. Tom Waits, step down. A new King of Weird has taken your place. My favorite song? “Meat my Friends” about a group of “reasonable cannibals … they just take what they need,” which may include your belly fat. Even though my mom looked a little disturbed on occasion over Matt’s less than politically correct lyricism, my dad walked up to me after the show to say how impressed he was with my little bro. I agreed. In fact, when I saw the boys outside, I pulled a Wayne’s World. (“We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!”)
Thursday, June 23rd, was the best day of Charleston 2011 for me. The trip in its entirety reminded me how much fun I used to have talking with my gal pals. How much I miss having my little brother down the street. How much I love the ocean and Spanish moss on Church Street. I did see the ghost of my past self—unavoidable in the same haunts, doing the same shots of Van Gogh, with the same girls I was once single with. I blame my past self for my present bronchitis. But it was worth it, and knowing I’ll be back again in April for Mary’s wedding puts a wide smile on this Phoenician’s face.