My ego got quite a boost last night.

The boost was the culmination of circumstances that began last Sunday, during a pot-luck lunch at church. A friend sitting across the table from us mentioned that she had to leave soon to participate in an evaluation of auditions for an upcoming “radio-play,” in which the players will read the script of a play in what amounts to a purely acoustic performance. This friend suggested that we should go audition. On a whim, and knowing nothing more than that, we decided to do it. We left the church and headed directly to the site of the auditions, arriving five or ten minutes after auditions had begun. We were given paperwork to complete, had our photos taken, and were advised to deliver our completed “packages” to the assessors (all the while, others were auditioning by reading from sample scripts). Both of us (mi novia and I) were asked to read parts, which involved reading lines while others read their lines in response, etc. We both read parts from the radio-stage-play version of Alfred Hitchcock’s 39 Steps. An hour or so later, we were done. It was an interesting diversion for an early Sunday afternoon.

Now, to the ego-boost part. Just as we got home from mi novia‘s birthday dinner with friends, I got a call from the casting director, who invited me to accept a leading role in the play. She said I had “knocked it out of the park” with my reading. Though I suspect her compliments were amplified to help convince me to accept, they were sufficient to give my ego quite a boost. Unfortunately, I learned during the phone conversation, the rehearsals for the play would conflict with our former neighbors’ 50th anniversary celebration and our road trip to California. Bottom line, we could not accept. I said “we.” That’s because mi novia, too, was invited to accept two parts—two parts—in the play. The casting director told me both of us really impressed the people responsible for casting the plays.

I apologized to the casting director for being unable to participate (and for essentially wasting their time and, because they picked us, derailing their casting efforts for a bit). I wish we had known more about the rehearsal schedule, etc. before we went to the auditions—we would not have gone, had we known. But, then, we would not have had the opportunity to realize the interest and excitement of a “radio play.” We talked last night, after the phone call, about possibly exploring it again in the future. I almost wish we could postpone our other obligations.

We will be back from our road trip in time to go to the performances. Now, after our experience with the auditions, we will be certain to get tickets. I will play close attention, especially, to the performance of the people who will be reading “our” parts.


The weather yesterday and the day before seemed, to put it mildly, close to cataclysmic. Yesterday’s fierce thunderstorms, with blinding rain and constant rolling thunder—and lightning that sometimes seemed almost like a strobe-light on steroids—put a crimp in our plans. After consulting with the friends we had planned to meet for lunch, we postponed our get-together; the weather was bad and unpredictable. We almost postponed our dinner plans, as well, but the skies cleared in time to permit us to get together (though not where we planned…more details below). We saw photos and videos, posted online, taken yesterday of spillways in the Village; the rain caused the spillways to resemble dangerous rapids.  But as wild as yesterday’s weather was, a thunderclap the day before was unlike any either of us have ever experienced. The house literally shook and “undulated” in reply to the unprecedented crack of thunder. It felt like the house was rippling in response to the earth heaving beneath it; almost like an earthquake demonstrating the fragility of human habitation.


Dinner last night was excellent. We ate at Dolce Vita Italian Ristorante, which was surprisingly packed with patrons. We had assumed everyone but us would have given up on dinner plans, considering the heavy rains and fierce winds that finally let up around 5 pm. Wrong. But we had no trouble being seated. And, as usual, the dinner was superb, made even more so by the presence of good friends and good conversation.

We had planned to go to the recently-reopened DeSoto Club. However, we finally got through to the restaurant just before 5 after trying all day. After an utterly unprofessional handling of the first moments of my call, my call was passed on to someone who asked how I could be helped. I asked to make a reservation; he told me reservations could be made only by email and that I would get an email in response if my request was “approved.” He told me the place was terribly busy; booked and crammed and crowded…etc. When I expressed incredulity at using email for reservations, the man on the other end of the line became downright rude; he snapped out the email address and said that’s the only way to make reservations.  After dinner at Dolce Vita Italian Ristorante last night, I decided to stop by the DeSoto Club to see what it was like, in person.  At about 20 minutes to 8 (they close at 8), there was no host or hostess up front. There were quite a few empty tables.  I waited for a couple of minutes when, finally, a guy sauntered up and asked if I could be helped. I asked how I could make reservations. He reiterated what I had been told earlier; only by email “until we have our systems in place.” I told him I had tried to call all day; he said “our phones lines have been messed up.” When I asked whether email requests would be answered, regardless of whether or not reservations were available, he said “they are supposed to respond.” He added that there would be no way I could get reservations for Thursday through Sunday; “we are totally booked.” And he said he would advise not trying to get reservations for groups of more than 8 people. Apparently, 8 people stretches their capacity to cope. The email I sent yesterday at 5 pm is still waiting for a response, despite the fact that “they are supposed to respond.” I had very high expectations for the DeSoto Club. I am beyond disappointed; I am deeply annoyed at what I consider raw unprofessionalism. I have rarely encountered incompetence and rudeness so blatant as I did in my interactions with that restaurant. It is quite a surprise, considering the fact that the restaurant owner’s other restaurant in Hot Springs has been so well-managed. I may give the place another try in a few months; if it hasn’t ironed out its unforgivable ineptitudes by then, though, that will be the last time.

A couple of days ago, I read, online, about someone else who claimed to have had a similar experience with the restaurant. My immediate reaction was to dismiss the bellyacher as having embellished the experience; moreover, I thought, he probably was a chronic, crybaby complainer. After my interactions with the place, I am embarrassed that I misjudged him and that I questioned the truth of his description of his experience.


Enough complaining. I plan to build an extraordinary day out of the upcoming hours.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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