A very full birthDAY celebration.
Hyman's was an easy choice because they are wise enough to send a birthday greeting - along with a free meal coupon.
Owner Eli Hyman told me years ago that he targets locals.
Oh, the tourists have found the place, hence the crowds out front, but residents go there as well and take their visiting friends.
Many places sell crabcakes but those at Hyman's draw me back, again and again. And the shrimp and grits is done perfectly.
Coffee, boiled peanuts and hush puppies make a fine Southern appetizer.
Denny's also offers a free birthday meal but a Grand Slam would have meant an earlier start of the day.
So after a fine meal, and a little walkabout, we went to the Dock Street Theatre to watch the final dress rehearsal of a "new" opera that Spoleto unveils tonight.
New because although it was written 350 years ago, it was performed only twice. Yikes.
This is the third time for the 1652 opera and before a highly different audience than the first time.
One thing was the same - you had to understand Italian.
There was no English translation so we had to guess what was going on.
This scene featured one of the comical characters who was showing his appreciation of the Amazonian soldiers.
Or, it could have been something entirely different.
Seated in a balcony box, we could hear thunder booming that grew louder and louder.
Hmm, it didn't match the action on the stage so we realized there was quite a rain happening outside.
We stayed dry getting back to the car but soon pulled into the MUSC parkade for shelter.
My phone had buzzed an alert that heavy hail and 60 mph winds were about to hit.
I watched people with umbrellas - and many without - as they scampered through streets starting to flood.
If puddle-jumping ever becomes an Olympic event, Charleston would win medals.
We have lots of practice, especially on particular streets around the market and the Crosstown.
The hail did not appear so we eased out and slowly wound our way to Highway 17 South.
Ruby Tuesday has an offer of a free hamburger and piles of fries on your birthday.
We have gone there on birthdays before.
It was Happy Hour so the giant beer on tap was our choice.
This is one of the few places that still has an elaborate salad bar. Buy just the salad or - for a much lower price - add it to you entree.
While we were eating the freebie, I looked over the bar and saw a family seated by the window.
But this was the only one with the man hoisting his baby up in the air. Several times. The baby loved it.
So we finished eating and there was a free movie we wanted to see at the IMAX.
We had about an hour to kill so we stopped at Craft Conundrum, a neat beer place next to Bi-Lo that used to be a Piggly-Wiggly in West Ashley.
I decided to suggest to the bartender that they start a tradition of giving a free beer to someone celebrating a birthday.
Said they already had such a free beer deal.
Wear the Viking helmet while drinking the beer and there is no charge.
I felt very Opera-like with the horned helmet on my head.
The blonde pigtails came with the hat.
Others in the room had seen all this before but I felt it was worth a picture.
Oh no, I forgot my ear plugs!
The good news is the 3-D glasses work much better now that cataract surgery eliminated my need to wearing regular glasses.
And, of course, my buddy had earned a free admission.
I pay the Senior rate but for 3-D, there's an additional $2 fee added on. His free admission saved him about $15.
In 2013, we were in New York and secured two tickets so I can proudly say "Been there, done that and have the T-shirt."
And, of course, those two tickets were free.
You had to apply months in advance and didn't really know if you were going to get them until the day before you flew up to NYC.
A bonus that day in 2013, we stopped in the Hello Deli and got a picture of Rupert Jee. And bought my dark blue t-shirt with yellow lettering.
I wore it while we watched Dave say goodbye.