One of the most famous opening lines for a poem, and they were spoken by John Astin, an actor known for his off-the-wall characters then for his Shakespearian training. We were going to see “Gomez Addams” do a one man play about Edgar Allen Poe. We were in Chicago for one of my business trips back in the day, and I just happened to look at the Chicago magazine in the room and there was a small advertisement for this play and it was the weekend that we were there. While I was busy during the day doing what I was there for, my Bride had the honor of ordering the tickets and canceling the dinner arrangements we had made, she does get the fun jobs, and that is being said tongue-in-cheek. The reason we had to cancel our original reservation is that the theater was not downtown and with the Chicago traffic, we were not sure of the travel time and we did not want to be late.
The theater was not a grand venue and I remember thinking to myself before the lights dimmed, was I watching an actor in the twilight of his career? When the lights dimmed, my negative thoughts were forgotten as we both were mesmerized by the actor and the lines that he spoke. I would venture to say that the entire dialogue that we enjoyed during the production was written by Poe and was selected from his prose and his poetry, not to mention from his many letters that he had penned to his family and friends in his short life span. Some of the readings especially from “Lenore” and “The Raven” still leave me goose-bumps and chills when I recall the moment today. I think we both developed even more of an appreciation for John Astin after this play, then for the roles that we had grown up seeing him in before.
Since we were in a district of Chicago that was new to us, we got there early to hopefully find a restaurant before the show. We did find a restaurant, more a small little bistro, which I cannot recall the name of, as I do not have a matchbook from them (at my age every little reminder helps). We had a quick dinner as the restaurant was not pretentious and I am sure that they appreciated turning over the tables quickly. I remember the wine, because I had to carry it out with me in a brown paper bag, so I looked like a high class wino; and I had to carry it with us to the theater and then later back to the hotel. We enjoyed a bottle of one of our favorite go-to wines, if there is one on the menu. Villa Cervia Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 1996 made us happy that evening. This wine made from the Montepulciano varietal is one of the most known wines from Italy. Though at first glance it seems like a mouthful to pronounce, but once you have it down pat, it just flows. While we have had better and we have had some worse, I will always try a bottle of Montepulciano if I get a chance, as I know that so far I have never had a terrible bottle of it.