The junk pile: it is a term of endearment that I choose for this post. To be clear, I will be concluding the narrative of the story: the hero makes his way home to his family, where they all live happily ever after…or at least until the morning of Thursday March 15, 2012; which is now…not now when you’re reading this, but now when I’m writing it…all this to say, we are happy now, who knows about tomorrow…or lunch time. However, I realized that there were things throughout this series that I failed to mention in chronological order, so they will end up in this conclusion. For instance, I left out most of the details pertinent to the places in which I ate. Talking about a trip to San Francisco without including the details of the restaurants one visited is a little like looking at Kermit the Frog’s eHarmony profile and skipping over the medical history…irresponsible (he has crabs)(how blissful is your ignorance now, scratchy?). Move on.
San Francisco is a “foodie” town, to be sure. If you are unfamiliar with the term “foodie” it means they like food. One could make the argument, based upon the aforementioned term clarifications that Bremerton (as an example) is a foodie town, which may be true, but I’m not holding my breath until the Travel Channel comes calling. I am a lover of being fed, but I haven’t the passion about food San Francisco requires should one decide to roll up one’s sleeves and prepare for some serious eating. In a nut shell, I had no idea what I was doing when it came to eating in Fog City. I did come across a great Italian place called Uncle Vito’s on the corner of Powell and Bush. Like a rookie, I went there twice; but I regret it not. They have great “grinders” and I had to go back because I missed the fact that they had calzones until after I’d started to eat. The second time I went there (you know, for the calzone), it was crowded and another guy was sitting by himself, so I asked him if he wanted to sit with me. I don’t know if I was just feeling brave, or if Vito’s mixes liberal amounts of MDMA into their dough, but this was a great move on my part, we were seated much more quickly together than we would’ve separately. It turns out Quinn, the man with whom I sat, was a great dinner companion. He hailed from New Mexico and was in town for a natural medicine convention. Quinn, an acupuncturist, was there with his business partner, a massage therapist and vegetarian. As such, he was not likely to darken the door of an establishment like Vito’s as the air in that place has the chemical breakdown known as “O2P”, due to the high content of all things pig in the air…add to that the MDMA and—for omnivores, and carnivores—it’s bliss-out time. Not great for vegetarians. I learned some things from Quinn:
1) It is not impossible to be happy while living in the Southwest corner of the US. Something I’d have never guessed as it is, decidedly, “red”. Quinn was not your typical “red-stater”, and he seemed happy to me.
2)The Good Doctor used to say, “buy the ticket, take the ride”, in other words don’t fear experience…we’re all in this together, and it’s okay to break bread with a stranger (disregard previous point if your dinner guest brings up the fact that he owns a ranch in the Hollywood hills, and feels like it’s time to prepare for the beginning of a massive race war in the first few minutes of the meal) (not all strangers are created equal, Mr. Jefferson).
3) People have a way of changing you, of leaving their psychic imprint on you, good or bad, but the process of that change should not be feared, it should be welcomed with an open mind and an open heart. Even crazy people are familiar—on some level—with truth (at least as familiar as everybody else, it’s just uncomfortable to admit). Quinn was not crazy, as far as I could tell, and in as much as I am qualified to report on such things.
I know you’d love for me to tell you the specific things that I learned from Quinn, but that’d be impossible in any important way—his thoughts are locked up in the context of the night, and I would only do them disservice trying to explain them. So my advice to you is to go find your own stranger with whom you could share a meal, you won’t regret it…probably.
I also ate at this little 50’s diner (yeah a different one) that was on Powell, it sucked…if you are on Powell about midway down the hill do not stop at the 50’s diner there. I think it was called Lucy’s, but I will allow it no more ink. The concierge at the hotel recommended it, and I will find it hard to forgive her this transgression.
I should’ve eaten in Chinatown, I walked through there just after lunch on my way to The Beat Museum and had I known that I was so close to so many great Chinese restaurants, I’d have never settled for a sub-par over-priced burger. San Francisco’s Chinatown is a great example of Asian culture, and is a lot like walking the streets of Zhengzhou. If you find yourself in Fog City, give Chinatown—at least—one of your meals and half of a day, you won’t regret it…unless you hate Asians—in which case you will completely regret it—and you have a real problem.
I also went to The Beat Museum, I found it to be delightful, though not for everyone (if you possess a bumper sticker—or any other type of conversational substrate—with the words “Rush is Right” printed on it, The Beat Museum is not for you) (possibly a wild generalization, but I stand by it). It is on Broadway and Romolo Place.
Alas it was time to head back to the Airport…and, logically, home. My next rookie move was to head to the airport about four hours too soon. I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the BART to get me there, or how long to get through security once there. “At least I’ve given myself enough time, that there exists no possibility of missing my flight”, I told my wife over the phone. (Dear stupid, it’s me; future you…wake up and get on the stick, life is passing you by.) When I got to the counter the lady gave me my ticket, and wrote down the gate number where my plane and I were scheduled to meet; as it turns out, it was the wrong gate. I would’ve known this had I looked at, any one of, the thousands of arrival/departure boards I passed with my head down. I have a habit that has served me well in airports up until this point in time; I keep my head down…I keep it down to avoid eye contact with anyone else, but particularly with single mothers who are there to board the same flight as am I…and especially if their child is a little girl, and that girl owns a teddy bear. This may seem strange to you, so allow me to unpack it a bit. One thing I’ve learned from watching movies about, and recreations of, plane crashes is that eye contact with a stranger almost always equals a flaming plane full of screaming people touching down in the cold gray Pacific Ocean. The chances of this go up exponentially if the stranger is a single mother with a little girl who is playing with a doll, or teddy bear. However, the real shit storm happens if said little girl drops said toy, and you swoop in to pick it up and hand it back to her, this inevitably leads to the revelation that one of the three of you is a terrorist…and—usually—it is you. Not wanting any of these scenarios to play themselves out, I keep my head down. All this led me to be the first person in history to arrive at the gate four hours early and still miss my flight. I caught the next one and made it to Sea-Tac about 45 minutes later than expected. My friend Rick picked me up, fed me a BLTcheeseburger from Jack-in-the-Box (which was great), and brought me home without further incident. I hope to make it back to Fog City one day, for I left much undone. Maybe, next time, they’ll be ready for me…