Monday, November 22, 2010

wacky lunch at Chez Panisse, May 10, 1985

Apropos of nothing, except that I was paging through a couple of old journals - here's a moment from one of my weekend jaunts to San Francisco at the time that I was shuttling to Houston on extended business trips (I lived in New York, where my job as a paralegal at a large law firm was based).


Just came back from Chez Panisse, where my lunch tab was picked up by a Robert S, "national correspondent" for the LA Times. It was very enjoyable - an adventure. It's the first time, I think, that I've ever had this happen to me. A fantasy come true, meaning that so often I go into a café and hope so much that I'll strike up a conversation with someone, meet someone, have an interesting, gratuitous (or not) encounter.

Where would I have to go in NY to have this happen? Not the Village.

I suppose there's a bit of a glamorous aspect to me here in that I live in NY, vacation here, pop into C. Panisse for lunch, talk about sunning myself and about [a well-known 1st Amendment lawyer] in about the same breath.  

I wonder. Will he call me in NY? I would doubt it, but who knows.

The lunch has been dominating my thoughts all day. Right now I'm bummed because I could have gone out with Mr. S tonight and now Steve [the friend I was staying with in Berkeley] called and said he'd be home late - 9:30 or 10.

What did it mean? He asked me was I happy, and I said, relatively. At that particular moment I was happy, but could vaguely recall that I sometimes feel bad. I then asked him if he was happy and his body language said "not really" (who could be happy when a third wife has filed for divorce the day before?), but he said "yes." But then he said no - that he wished his work made more of an impact, that 20 years ago he didn't predict Reagan would be president. Who would've predicted that?

I guess I'm depressed too because the lunch flattered my ego in a way, and that's always the worst. I could tell that the main thing he seemed to want was to go to bed - all the references to sun tanning; the fact that at 25, I'm "only a child." [He was 49.] He's going through mid-life crisis.

Things we talked about: Calif. vs. NY; his son, a senior in high school; my background, briefly (Seven Sister school; not from a "proper" family; Polish, parents spent WWII in Europe); that so-and-so's a sleaze; that Chez Panisse is like a shrine to food - the maitre d' looked very Harvard Divinity School; sunning one's self - that he's got a porch where within eyeshot, all these women, each morning, roll around on the sand; "do I do this? do I wear a skimpy bathing suit?"  No comment. "Sunning yourself..." he seemed to muse over these words; how, basically, I'd never heard of him, well, maybe I have; he asked me if I believed in the virgin birth -- I said that I'd studied existentialism a lot in college and somehow the question never arose; how he likes the 4th St. Bar & Grill better than C. Panisse; his calzone, which sucked; the 2 fat men eating the potato ravioli; my date with the guy with the pasta [???]; Berkeley Marina; how he's on an expense account; the new Brooklyn area code; how I'd like to have children; how 26 will be a big year, all my girlfriends tell me so; my friend I'm staying with whom I'm meeting at 7; how I'm free in NY next week; how he's leaving for New York tomorrow; how my friend is 37 and works in a video store and doesn't seem to have a trace of ambition which is a relief after the frenetic attorneys I work with; how he's married 3 times with 3 children; how I should have children from different marriages; how I lived with someone for 2 years - never been married - which was like a marriage and 2nd marriages are supposed to be better; how he hates Reagan.

I will be happy if I get one date in NY from this. The River Café? Someplace romantic. God, I'm so turned on.
No he never did call me in New York. But it was a fun afternoon, I still remember it. Thanks, Mr. S!

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