I worked in southern California for a couple of weeks, with plenty of downtime, and can I just say, what a bunch of terrible drivers? There isn’t enough time in my life to qualify this statement, but if you’ve been there, you know what I’m saying. It also rained for the first week I was there, and since that only occurs for the natives once a year, you can imagine the additional challenges to operating their vehicles.
After a day of driving from San Diego to LA, I bellied up to the hotel bar for dinner and a much-needed tranquilizer. I tucked in to my Thai calamari and edamame, but my chewing slowed when I noticed that 3 cooks of Hispanic persuasion were peering around the doorjamb that led into the kitchen.
This bothered me greatly.
Frank, the attentive barkeep with an excellent mustache that had just the right amount of grey in it, strolled over to check on me, “Eez everee-ting ok, meez?”
I smiled, a little embarrassed that he’d caught my pause, and replied in a conspirational tone, “Frank…don’t look, but there are 3 guys staring at me from the kitchen. They sort of appeared right after I got my food, and, err….well, I am wondering if they put something bad in my dinner, and want to see my reaction.” I glanced back at the doorway, and seriously, all 3 were stacked like a totem pole, straining to keep an eye on me, but look inconspicuous…conspicuously.
“No. No, meez. Dey want to see you. Dey tink you are berry, berry pretty.”
“Oh,” I blushed, “That’s nice.” A little weird, and more than a bit awkward, but nice. So, I continued dinner, and Frank plied my with gin, and the kitchen staff started bringing me things I hadn’t ordered, like chocolate lava cake. “Wow, Frank. This is great- thank you! I didn’t even see this on the menu.” So bizarre.
“Eez not on dee menju. We make it juz for jew,” he beamed, and I glanced up at the cooks, in the doorway again, watching to see if I liked it. I smiled and winked, and they all fell out of their stacked stance against the doorframe, and smacked each other with dish towels.
“Meez,” began Frank, as I settled the check, and began to gather my things, “Jew said jur room wus a leetle noi-see, so I hab dee front desk move jew. Here’s jor new kees.” He smiled hugely at me, and puffed his chest out.
“Thank you, Frank!” I reached for his hand across the bar pulling myself over to smooch his cheek, and grinned as I heard the collective groans back at the kitchen door. I felt like both the fatted calf, ready to be sacrificed to the volcano and the village princess simultaneously. It was nice, flattering, and educational. Perhaps my relationship status is indicative of my citizenship.
Frank handed me a huge bottled water as I hopped off of my stool, and I grinned at him. The free bottle of water was the coup de grace of a lovely evening of unabashed worship, but also reminded me of something I’m grateful for in my own country, which is fearless water-drinking, so perhaps I’ll stay right here, even if it banishes me to being just another face in a crowd of women.