So it was one of my Life Goals to meet her. I told her she wasn't allowed to die before I met her.
Which means I may have just significantly shortened her lifespan.
Tiffani, Michelle (sneaker328/SNeaker, another TWoP friend I really liked but didn't know as well), and Anne Hathaway (not the actual one but her Jewish doppelganger) hit San Francisco on Wednesday. It was the first time for everyone, I believe, and, for Michelle at least, the westmost she had been in the continental United States (despite having been to several foreign countries). I guess that's a good goal when vacationing: go further west! Or east or north or south or down, if you swing that way.
Now, all three of them are Orthodox Jews and keep kosher, which meant their food options were very limited. There's a kosher restaurant in Oakland not far from a kosher bakery, so that seemed like a good place to have dinner on Thursday night and meet me. Michelle had been flummoxed by the public transportation system in the Bay Area and was certain she would get them all horribly lost, but from what I could tell, her navigational skills were spot on.
Their timing was a bit off, though. I reached Lakeshore a little after five, but they were still on the bus. The kosher bakery closed at six, and they were afraid they wouldn't get there in time, so Tiffani gave me a shopping list of the essentials. I was to get one (1) challah, as many rolls as they had left, and three (3) black and whites (cookies). She had called the bakery and had been told they only had seven challah left, but they might all be gone now for all she knew.
I hurried to the Grand Bakery, appropriately located on Grand. It was empty but for a woman on the phone who looked like she worked there. She was walking along the side checking on things. I couldn't tell whether it was a personal call, but it seemed like poor etiquette. She did finish up her conversation quickly and returned behind the counter and faced me.
And she was so very pretty omg. So fucking lovely. It was a face that put you at ease, that might could launch a thousand ships. And I know I'm horribly superficial, but in this case, I really think it was more than just her physical appearance; I think her personality shone through as well. She was incredibly pleasant and patient and friendly, which was quite a feat when dealing with me, an ignorant goy with a cell phone attached to his ear.
I had never been in a kosher bakery before. I asked if they had any challah. At least I knew how to pronounce that one. Mostly. She pointed out the challah; they still had a bunch. How about...rolls? They were out of fresh rolls, but she showed me where the day-old rolls were. Finally, I asked if she had any black and whites. She walked behind the counter and pointed them out to me.
I called up Tiffani to give her the sitch. The woman said, "Were you sent here?"
"Yeah," I replied, and, seeing her expression, I added, "I think you know who I'm talking to." She smiled.
I told Tiffani what I'd learned about the inventory. When she asked about rolls, I told her they had no fresh rolls, but they had day-old rolls. "Bagel rolls?" she said. Day-old rolls. "Bagel rolls?" DAY-OLD rolls. Oh, she didn't want day-old rolls. The woman pointed out that she could slice some bread for sandwiches, knowing why they needed rolls in the first place, I suppose. When I relayed that idea to Tiffani, she said that no, they didn't want any rye or pumpernickel. They would do with the rolls they had. Tiffani told me to get two challah instead.
They had plenty of black and whites. But now that I was here, Tiffani wanted to see what else they had. Did they have any rugelach? "Rugela?" I said. Rugelach. "Rugela?" Did I not know what rugelach was? "Arugula?" Thankfully, the woman was paying attention and could tell what Tiffani meant. She pointed out the fresh rugelach and then the packaged rugelach that came in several varieties. Tiffani only wanted two specific kinds, though, not the whole mix. I told her they did have fresh rugelach, and I asked the woman what sort they had left. She took a peek. Unfortunately, they were not the kinds Tiff wanted.
Then Tiffani asked me if they had any...ingberlach [this is just a guess [and an incorrect one, at that, as this bit was actually the lead-up to "rugelach"]]. "Lilerbach?" I asked. Ingberlach. "Lilerblach?" Ingberlach. "I can't even tell what consonants you're saying." Tiff repeated what I said to her companions. Really, I think this scene needs to be put in some sort of Jewish comedy. Or any comedy. Again, the woman with her psychic powers was able to discern what the hell word I was butchering, but it was a no-go anyway. Tiffani liked most everything, but Michelle and Anne had narrower tastes, so we decided that if they made it to the bakery before it closed, they could pick out their own extra stuff. I hung up.
So I got two challah and three black and whites. I apologized for being so difficult, and then I noticed that there was a sign on the wall that said they would serve me as soon as I put down my cell phone. I apologized for the cell phone, and she said not to worry about it: "We owe you on this." She asked me how I got roped into this, and I explained that they were visiting from New York, and we were meeting for dinner at a kosher restaurant. "Holy Land?" she asked. Yep. I asked her what she recommended, and she said she'd never actually been there, she'd just given directions.
It was really warm out, so I considered waiting around in the bakery, but I thought that would be weird, so I walked outside a little, looked at books outside a bookstore. Then I realized I wasn't quite sure how to get to the restaurant from here; that is, I knew how to get there by backtracking, but I didn't know whether there was a faster way from my current location. So I went back to the bakery and said, "Speaking of giving directions." She didn't get it at first, so I clarified. As it turned out, her directions were to get there by backtracking. Alas.
I sat outside at a table. I loved the painted sign on the window: "Everyday's a challah day." Even though it should have been "Every day's." I waited and waited.
And then there they were, just a-walking down the street! Er, sidewalk. And not singing anything. I had seen pictures of all of them before, and they all looked like themselves, but even prettier. The power of three dimensions!
Tiffani lamented that there was no hug proxy present. I, being male, was not allowed to hug her or Michelle. I consider this one of the great tragedies of my life. *hug* is the best I can ever do.
We walked into the bakery, and the girls went at it. Tiffani bought me a black and white so I could try one. The woman behind the counter was from New York too! But from Manhattan, not Brooklyn.
As we exited, I announced my awesome solution to the lack of hug proxy: Michelle and Tiffani could hug each other! But apparently they could count the number of times they'd hugged each other on one hand. They started naming specific instances they remembered, that was how infrequently they hugged. I thought it was very sad. Hugs!
I led the way to Holy Land (not the Holy Land, unless you want to start calling me Polter-Moses). Michelle was amused by the existence of Cheney St.
At Holy Land, I ordered a falafel. Tiffani ordered chicken schwarma (which apparently doesn't count as real schwarma), and Michelle and Anne ordered turkey schwarma. I think. At least Michelle did. The both of them also craved French fries. Anne also craved a Fresca, but she hadn't been able to find one in the Bay Area, so she had to settle for diet Sprite or some such thing.
The guy put it all on one bill, and Michelle had no cash, so she put it on her Amazon.com Visa (just like mine! And Tiffani's!). My falafel was seven dollars, so I began to hand the money to her, but she also owed me four dollars from the bakery, and, you guys, I seriously spent a couple minutes trying to work this out. "For
I tried "one" (two!) of Michelle's fries. They were very good, very potato-y. My falafel was also good. Tiffani criticized her schwarma for having a pre-seasoned salad rather than individually cut vegetables.
After my dinner, I pulled out the black and white Tiff had bought for me. Michelle assured me that eating it would not turn me Jewish. Tiffani said it was more of a New York thing than a Jewish thing. No one assured me that eating it would not turn me into a New Yorker.
I greatly preferred the black/brown side, as it tasted vaguely like chocolate, whereas the white side was, as Tiffani put it, "white-flavored." Very sweet, which isn't my thing. (Michelle: "Who doesn't like sweet things?" Tiff: "He doesn't!") I liked the cookie part, which reminded me of something I couldn't quite put my finger on. Maybe shortbread? I let Michelle try the rest of my white, and she said it was marzipan-y, which could explain why I didn't like it. She also claimed the cookie wasn't thick enough or soft enough, which confused me because it sure seemed thick and soft to me. What, was my first black and white defective? Geez.
After the meal, the three girls said some prayers, which I thought was backwards since I'm used to people saying grace before eating.
On our way out, Michelle and the others grabbed some lollipops. Michelle's was blue.
I drove us to the BART station, where the N-N-N-New York girls lambasted the ticket-buying machines for not properly taking credit cards and then for having the gall to give you the ability to put a specific amount of money on your ticket, due to the destination-specific costs of riding BART.
On the BART platform, Michelle showed off her blue tongue.
Someone pointed out the Get Smart ad and asked me whether Anne looked like Anne Hathaway. One of the two obscured her face like Steve Carell's tie does in the ad to make the similiarity even more clear. There was definitely something there!
Once we got on the BART, the previously complainy New Yorkers marveled at how comfortable the seats were. Still, Michelle missed her Metrocard. I asked her if she'd heard "My My Metrocard" by Le Tigre. She had not. Now she can.
When the train went across the bay, it accelerated to 60 miles an hour, which caused it to become very noisy. "We're underwater," I said, but no one could hear me. It was really loud. So Tiffani, Michelle, and I of course broke out into the Doctor/Donna scene from "Partners in Crime," exaggeratedly mouthing our words and making wacky hand gestures. I don't think Anne had a clue what was going on.
We got off at Montgomery. We needed to make it to Washington Square in about fifteen minutes for pub trivia at Rogue Ale House. I walked us at a brisker pace than Tiffani, with a bad back, and Anne, with a hurt foot, could handle, so Michelle and I often had to wait up for them. As I said earlier, I hadn't really talked to Michelle as much over the years, but I already liked her a lot more after spending a couple hours with her. She's very cool! Even if she did ruin Buffy for you. Was that you?
Michelle struck her best Sex and the City pose, and she came out looking amazing. Tiff is cute, and Anne is cold. There was a lot of wet mist floating about; they had been confounded in their attempts to see the Golden Gate Bridge by the heavy fog.
I was a terrible guide with a poor knowledge of the city, as I didn't even know what the Transamerica Building was. And I was really hoping that Kearny would hit Columbus eventually. And I kept saying Washington Square was only a couple blocks away. I think Tiffani wanted to kill me. It was a walk I made all the time, so I thought nothing of it, and I had no idea what bus one would take as a substitute, since I rarely take buses. Buses freak me out.
We got to the Rogue Ale House just in time; they were about to start the trivia. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to sit. We circled the bar over and over, looking for an empty table, an empty seat. Nothing. This was no good. Then, again just in time, a table was vacated, and we sat down to ponder the first question.
Oh, the first question.
You see, the first question asked the name of the warm current in the north Atlantic between Ireland and Canada. Michelle and I racked our brains, as we knew the answer was on the tips of our tongues. It was something like the Gulf Stream. It wasn't the Gulf Stream, but it sounded like that. Michelle ended up putting down "North Atlantic Current"...which, holy shit, is a real thing.
Guess what the answer turned out to be?
THE GULF STREAM.
(Although, now, seriously, I think the North Atlantic Current is a more correct answer for what the guy was describing. Even though it's a part of the Gulf Stream.)
This was a running theme throughout the night. The four of us together were alternately very good and very bad at this game. Tiff didn't like playing trivia, but she seemed to play more of an active role than I had expected and, in fact, came through with at least one right answer none of us had a clue about. And I wasn't sure how excited Anne had been to play trivia, but she also contributed useful knowledge. All four of us knew things, but any time we disagreed on something, we invariably went with the wrong answer. Who was the first person to have his jersey retired? Lou Gehrig, not Babe Ruth. What did Bush call an "outpost of tyranny"? North Korea, not Cuba. (And not Guam. Come on, when you think "outpost," don't you think Guam? North Korea is no outpost!) Who was singing that song? The Temptations, not the Four Tops. Over and over. I think each one of us got to come up with a right answer that was decided against by the others.
Perhaps the best moment of the night was during the first round, when the trivia jockey asked, "William Webb Ellis was at what school when he repeatedly invented the sport of rugby?"
We all looked at each other. Repeatedly? "Hmm...rugby!" Hmm...rugby!!" "Hmm...rugby!!!"
Then he repeated the question: "William Webb Ellis was at what school when he reputedly invented the sport of rugby?" Which made more sense. The answer, by the way, was...Rugby. No joke.
Anne and Michelle stole all the good light, but I still really like this picture of Tiff and me.
The music in the place was obnoxiously loud, which made the music category a fucking nightmare because the bass overpowered everything. It was hard to hear the damn songs. One of the songs reminded Tiff of a song by a band she couldn't remember, and it turned out to be Sublime, and, for God's sake, I would have recognized fucking Sublime if I could have heard the damn song properly. At least I knew "Ready to Go" by Republica, made easier by the fact that we had figured out that the common theme was "Ready" by that time, thanks to Michelle's knowing that one song by Ready for the World.
We really had no chance of winning, especially after the sports category reamed us. But we...were maybe in the upper 50th percentile? Below many teams with incredibly raunchy names. We were TARDIS. Our trivia jockey was clearly not a Doctor Who fan: "...Tardis, I guess..."
The people behind us were incredibly obnoxious, but one of them was apparently really hot. Michelle thought San Francisco was full of hot guys. She wanted to take a picture of this guy. Tiff thought that was creepy. Well, I had kind of wanted to take a picture of the woman at the bakery, so...all right, maybe a little creepy.
Meanwhile...Anne totally wrote my name in Hebrew!
I was not assured that this would not turn me Jewish.
One time when Tiffani returned from the bathroom, I wanted to give her a random hug, but I couldn't, so I wiggled my hands in her face and said, "Urgle blurgle." It was my substitute for a hug. It was the best I could come up with on short notice.
After our crushing defeat (which I hope was at least entertaining and fun for them), the N-N-N-New York girls caught a bus back to their hotel, and I walked back to the BART station. On the way down Columbus, I thought I heard someone claim they had just seen Ryan from The O.C. I looked around but didn't see him. I thought it would have been appropriate since when I had visited New York a few years ago, I could swear I saw Luke from The O.C. And, well, I did meet Mischa Barton in JFK.
The next morning, the Fourth of July, I was to meet them at the Embarcadero. On the BART, I sat across from a guy whose hoodie read, "ANTARCTICA: McMURDO STATION." "So you've been to Antarctica?" I asked. He had. I asked him how it was. He said it was a big party, since there wasn't much to do but drink. I had the sudden urge to go to Antarctica and purchase a hoodie.
"So you're famous on the Internet?" he asked. I was.
"This is how we learn about each other, from our clothing," I said. He turned to his female companion, whose jacket had no words on it, and asked what her clothing said about her.
Throughout the ride, I offered relevant comments to their conversation if I could, and he kept looking at me as if he wanted to say something more but didn't know what; now that we'd established some sort of conversation, how were we to keep it going? I think we were flirting.
We all disembarked at Embarcadero, and he disappeared from my life, and I searched for my friends. Tiff had said they were by the "waterfall" across from the Ferry Building. I had no idea what she was talking about, but...sure enough, there was a waterfall thing! I had never seen it. I wondered how I could have missed it all this time. It's funny how out-of-town visitors can show you your own city.
I circumnavigated the waterfall and explored the shops but saw no sign of them. I called Tiffani, and she guided me to the kosher deli where they were buying food. I looked at the menu and asked what a knish was, and she looked at me in disbelief.
The out-of-towners had gotten a bus pass, but I had to shell out $1.50 to take the F on a historic streetcar. We walked to their hotel and, while they figured out how to store their food, I walked back to Naan "N" Curry to grab some lunch, for, lo, I was hungry. The chalk menu on the outside had given me an impression that they were an Indian bistro or something, but, no, they were an actual Indian restaurant. Even though I thought it might prove to be unwieldy, my choices were a bit limited, so I got some chicken tikka masala and one naan to take back to the hotel. While the others rested and watched What Not to Wear, I ate, sporking chicken into my mouth and tearing off a bit of naan at the same time since I had no plate.
We got ready to leave, and Anne wrapped a scarf around a neck. "Wait," I said, and lifted the scarf to her face to obscure it like Steve Carell's tie. "Anne Hathaway." I really hoped I hadn't done something forbidden. Either Michelle or Tiffani said that if we saw the Get Smart ad, we would have to take a picture. Sadly, we never ran into it.
Our first stop was Union Square so that Anne could see the Saks Fifth Avenue, as she worked at the actual Saks Fifth Avenue (on Fifth Avenue). I tried to show them the glass elevator with a great view, but I couldn't find it at the Westin St. Francis (where it actually was) or the Sir Francis Drake (which I had never been in). Like I said, I was a terrible guide. Perhaps my only notable contribution was the prudent suggestion that we get the fuck off Powell St. and its punishing hills and walk up Montgomery instead. Our destination was the Transamerica Building at Clay and Montgomery.
We were again pretty prompt, arriving at 1:30 for the walking tour led by the inimitable Ted Evans, who would prove to be quite the historical raconteur. He only took us walking around the block or so, but he taught us so very much! All these things I did not know about my city! Like, for instance, the fact that everything east of Montgomery used to be water. Which boggled my mind.
Ted told us the story of the Sydney Ducks, a gang of prisoners who had been kicked out of Australia (so they must have been pretty bad), who terrorized San Francisco for a while. One of their gambits was to surround someone on all four sides and then, at the right moment, the leader would yell, "Huddle 'im!" And the four would converge. But they were Australian, so the words came out sounding...well, they sounded like hoodlum. HENCE THE WORD OMG. Of course, Ted then proceed to give us an alternative etymology, which was that a journalist wanted to write about a particular criminal named Muldoon without his knowing it, so he reversed the name into Noodlum. The N became an H, and thus, Hoodlum.
A vigilance group formed, and they cleaned up the town, Sydney Ducks and all, within six weeks. And when a militia came down to bring some more order to the town...they went running scared. And then, amazingly, the vigilance group were actually self-aware enough to realize that they were perhaps a little mad with power, so they disbanded in order to form a bona fide government. What's more, they reduced the size of the city (it used to go as far down as San Mateo) in order to make it easier to govern.
Tiffani thought the vigilance group sounded like a sensible bunch of people. I agreed, and now, having begun to learn about the rich history of the city, I wanted to see "Daleks in San Francisco." Like maybe the vigilance group were Daleks. Or maybe the Sydney Ducks. "HOODLUM! HOODLUM! HOODLUM!"
We learned about William Leidesdorff, the first black man in San Francisco. He made it big. In fact, he became one of the first goddamn millionaires in San Francisco...posthumously. At the ripe old age of 38, he died of "brain fever." But what to do with his estate? Well, his good buddy Folsom took on the task of finding his kin, so he traveled down to St. Croix to find his mom and brothers...and bought his estate for $75,000. Seriously, I'm going to feel dirty walking down Folsom St. now. What an ass! But he got his just deserts: at the ripe old age of 38, he died...of "brain fever."
We discovered that Market St. won the Battle of the Piers by the flip of a coin. This story was ripe because Ted embellished with dialogue and characterization. He had lived in San Francisco a long time and could speak to some of the events firsthand, but he wasn't that old.
On Commercial St., Ted pointed out that you could see the Ferry Building at the end, just like you could on Market St. The reason was that the builder lived on Commercial, and he wanted to be able to see the clock. That was the only reason. But guess what? He died before the building was finished.
"This is a town of egos!" cried Tiffani.
Michelle took it a step further, horrified that this was a town that fought back. It was unlike New York, which is full of success stories and awful people making it big. San Francisco punished you for being a dick.
We saw a place Mark Twain had lived. Mark Twain had come into the town Samuel Clements and left as Mark Twain. Go San Francisco! This was also where he had met a man by the name of...Tom Sawyer. Said Mark Twain of the city: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
It was a really fantastic walking tour, and I advise anyone who visits SF to take it! Go Michelle for finding out about it (on the sign-up sheet, she had found out about it "from the Internet," and the three of us "from a friend or relative").
It was decided that our next destination would be Fisherman's Wharf. Michelle hoped to get a clearer view of the Golden Gate Bridge. To that end, we headed toward the Embarcadero, passing a Jewess along the way who acknowledged her fellow Jews. Michelle caught the gesture and recognized it, as she often acknowledged fellow Jews in New York. Tiffani was baffled that she could manage to do that.
Michelle and I reminisced about TWoP. She was surprised to find out how recently I had begun posting, as she had been posting since the MBTV days. I tried to keep some cred by mentioning that I was first directed to the site (by alannaofdoom) when it was MBTV.
We waited at a Muni stop for an exceptionally long time, finally getting on a FIREWORKS bus that didn't seem to go all that far. I had gauged the distance as a quarter of a mile to Fisherman's Wharf, but it seemed longer than that on the map. The bus deposited us near Pier 39, and there was a lot of hustle and bustle. There usually is at Fisherman's Wharf, but it was even greater on the Fourth. Michelle thought it may have been a bad idea.
I, being a terrible guide, wasn't sure where exactly to see the sea lions, which is what they wanted to do. I thought I saw the place to walk down, but I wasn't confident enough to take everyone there and waste their time (having wasted their time already teasing them with the great glass elevator).
We crossed the street and saw that a group of people was looking at the other side. I realized it was the Bush Guy and pointed him out. He crouches near a trash can with some branches in front of his face and then shakes them at passersby to scare them. And then ask them for money. Tiffani tried to get a good picture of him, but it didn't work out. Michelle said she would hate it if someone did that to her, but she wanted to document it because it was a Thing. He's like our Naked Cowboy!
Then we began our Quest for Water. The girls needed to wash their hands before eating bread. All they needed was a working sink. Even a water fountain. Neither of which could be found easily on the Wharf. The Starbucks had no bathroom (the Starbucks in the Financial District had been closed). Someone there said there was one behind the In-N-Out, but you had to buy something to get a key. When we got there, however, we found out it was Public Restroom Amnesty Day! Which meant it was a free-for-all. Which meant there was a huge line. Michelle and Anne waited in line, but Tiffani would have nothing of it. Besides, she was thirsty and wanted a Diet Coke.
Tiffani and I popped into a pizza place on the corner. They didn't even have Diet Coke. We walked across the street into a bar. Tiff said she just wanted a diet Coke, and they said they could do that, but we still had to show ID to get in, and Tiff didn't want to bother with that hassle (Michelle had gone through some stuff last night at the Rogue Ale House, presumably because she had an out-of-state license). We tried a bakery that, coincidentally, was playing the same random Persian song Tiff had recently gotten off audiography. They did have Diet Coke! The guy asked if I wanted anything. At first, I said no, but then, remembering an idea I'd had earlier, I asked for a glass of water.
After we walked out, I asked Tiffani if she wanted to wash her hands. Ta da! We walked across the street to do the deed, and then I could drink my water, and she could eat a pita with tuna. Michelle came out and wondered where Tiff had acquired a Diet Coke, so she sent her across the street. We waited for Anne to come out. She wondered how Tiff had washed her hands. It was like another scene out of a comedy.
Now, we needed ice cream! So we hit Ben and Jerry's, home of kosher ice cream and even kosher cones. Michelle got shafted somehow, as everyone else got a much bigger scoop than she did. My scoop of Chocolate Therapy was huge, and some of it got on my wonderful, beautiful shirt. That Tiffani had bought for me! How dare I sully it in her presence.
Next stop: Ghirardelli Square. We passed a cover band that was doing all the crowd-pleasing hits. That's the way to celebrate America! The groove truly is in the heart, is it not?
As we entered the Ghirardelli shop, we received a free sample of a new peanut butter-filled square. The package was already cut open to encourage you to eat it right then and there. It was very peanut butter-y. Tiffani contemplated stealing—that is, "kind of" buying—a bunch more from the basket, but I simply walked out the exit and came back in (I was looking for Anne, but I seized the opportunity) to get another one to give to her.
We spent a fair bit of time amidst the chocolate. It was chocolate, after all. Anne was looking to buy something she couldn't get in New York. Michelle was unable to find an assortment of dark chocolate squares, only bars.
Finally, we indulged Michelle in her quest to see the goddamn Golden Gate Bridge, still shrouded—not immersed—in fog. She failed. A lot. But we got a picture of the three of us in front of boats. Boats!
On our way back to civilization, the cover band was playing "Footloose," and Michelle expressed her love for the Kevin Bacon game, so I gave her Kristen Bell. She connected Kristen Bell to Paul Rudd through Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And then Paul Rudd to...Jennifer Aniston in that one movie, Picture Perfect? No, it was some other movie. And then Jennifer Aniston to Kevin Bacon in Picture Perfect! But, wait, maybe Paul Rudd was in Picture Perfect? What was that movie they were in together?
"The Gulf Stream?" I suggested. (It turns out she was thinking of Friends.)
Michelle knew the buses better than I did. She said they needed to catch the 30. It was getting late, and they needed to get prepared for Shabbos and in their hotel room before sunset. It was already past six. We waited at a bus stop on Columbus, where we discovered...a very famous bush. It was, um, Leidesdorff's bush. Yeeeeah.
Are Tiff's eyes open or not? Open? Not open? YOU DON'T KNOW.
She doesn't believe she's totally pretty!
After waiting for ten minutes, a woman came by to tell us that it didn't look like the bus was coming. We examined the bus stop itself, which we had neglected to do before, and, to our consternation, we saw a sign informing us that bus service would be shut down in that area for the evening because of the goddamn fireworks. Which didn't make any sense, since we figured you'd want more bus service, not less. The next stop was Stockton and Union, which was several blocks away. It seemed like a cab was our best option.
We hopped into a cab, and the New Yorkers got to experience the hills of San Francisco firsthand as the cabbie barreled down Jones. And by down I mean up. And then up. And then up. And then some dooooooown like a rollercoaster. It was great. Michelle tried in vain to get some good pictures of the hills; like the Golden Gate Bridge, she had failed to get a decent shot to show the folks back home.
I wasn't sure whether I would see them again, so I gave Anne a qualified goodbye and nice-to-meet-you. Michelle and Tiffani adorably gave me "Urgle blurgle"s.
Luckily, they had left open the possibility of my joining them for dinner on Monday night, and I realized I could totally give them a ride to the airport afterward. Thus, I could bribe them to spend more time with me! I am full of brilliant ideas.
spectralbovine: I'm still not done writing my post, and I would love to have more to write. I like you guys.
jeeperstseepers: Aw. We like you too.
spectralbovine: That's good.
I parked perilously on Pine and walked down the hill to Grant and turned right. Dinner was at Sabra Grill, a kosher place in Chinatown. I called Tiffani, and Michelle answered. I was walking up the stairs, and by the time we started saying anything, I could see her through a window, making my phone call irrelevant. Michelle and Anne were diagonal to each other, and Tiffani was using the restroom.
She returned and boasted about her ability to have somewhat of a conversation in Hebrew with a small child. It was cute.
I asked them what they had done, and Michelle and Tiffani declared that San Francisco was a strange city. That the crazy had started with Emperor Norton and just trickled down. New York, Tiff said, made sense. They all complained about the homeless people, who just weren't as invasive in NYC. I really had no arguments against the claims that San Francisco is a strange city; I'm pretty sure we pride ourselves on it. I know I live in a strange town. Observe:
Sadly, the hilarious website is actually an ad for the Parrot hands-free system (California just passed the hands-free cellphone law). But I have to still give them props.
Sabra was not an inexpensive place. The cheapest thing I could eat was $13.99. And that was "three chicken franks." At first, I ordered the tilapia, and the waiter informed me that it was a whole fish, which, whatever, I was hungry. Then he informed me that was a whole fish, like, it would have eyes and everything.
So I went with the shnitzel, which was just fried chicken ($17.99!). "The chicken doesn't have eyes, right?" I asked.
"No, but it has a beak!" said Tiffani. I hate that girl. No, wait, I mean love.
Our waiter brought out our salad and the hummus. Or, as the sign outside had said, "homos." We waited patiently for the pitas until Anne flagged down the waiter and specifically asked him for pitas, to which he responded: "Sure." ...As if he hadn't intended to bring us any pitas otherwise? Once the pitas arrived, Michelle and Anne tried the homos out and found it a bit lacking. Tiff could tell there was something not right about it just by looking at it, but she couldn't have any herself at the moment because she needed to wash her hands.
"But...didn't you just go to the restroom?" I asked.
It took a few repetitions and clarifications of my question before Tiffani figured out what I was getting at.
"There's a special way to wash before eating bread," she said with an air of *facepalm*. Off my expression, she shot back, "You're not allowed to talk! You live in a strange city!"
When she returned, I asked what the special way was. As it turned out, it was, in fact, using a cup to pour water on your hands, just as I had allowed her to do on Friday. I was totally accidentally Jew-friendly.
I asked if they were allowed to eat the pita after I'd touched it. They said it was okay. I didn't want to sully it with my unwashed hands! The homos tasted fine to me.
They had seen WALL-E last night and loved it, so we all had a good round of "WALL-E" and "EVE-A" and whatnot.
A dish of pickles went untouched.
The food arrived. Michelle had a chicken skewer. Tiffani had ordered a hamburger. The menu actually says "hamburger." Singular. She had discovered yesterday that in crazy Sabra land, "hamburger" means two burgers. Thus, tonight she and Anne where sharing a "hamburger." I had asked for my shnitzel with rice, and I got some bonus lentils on top of said rice.
My chicken tasted like chicken. There was nothing terribly special about it, and there wasn't a whole lot of it, either. There was a lot of rice with lentils, though.
The girls, who had ordered fries, were glad they had Heinz ketchup and not "Jew ketchup," which I assumed was made from the blood of dead Jews. Tiff slathered ketchup on her burger, which, after eating some, she declared not very well done. I don't think I'd ever met someone so critical of her food. But since she derives great enjoyment from the eating of food, I suppose she's pickier than I am. After all, she does like Anthony Bourdain, who'll eat just about anything. Anne and I rolled our eyes at subsequent mentions of him. We shared A Moment, and I was glad, since she was the person I'd never talked to before Thursday night. I always hoped I wasn't intruding on their little threesome (not like that).
A discussion of In Living Color led to my asking Michelle if she'd seen All That. She'd never even heard of it! I told her it was on SNICK. Nickelodeon! She said she didn't have cable until September 11, which forced her to get cable since their previous television had been broadcasting from the towers. Or something. In any case, the same thing was true of Anne. Tiffani's mom hadn't caved, though. I realized that this was the true tragedy of that day, the effect it had on these girls' televisions.
That discussion led to Tiffani's mentioning a quote in a newspaper from someone she knew at her school, someone who she had heard saying, "We should kill them all," when she and a friend had walked by. She was pretty sure he had been referring to the two Orthodox Jews walking by.
"I don't think we should kill all the Orthodox Jews," I said.
"Just some of them?" asked Michelle.
"Certainly not the ones at this table. Or their families. Or close friends."
"But the others...?"
"Oh yeah, second-degree friends are fair game."
There's nothing like a lighthearted discussion of genocide among friends.
When the check came, Michelle tried to figure it out. Tiffani thought it was going to be too complicated, so she suggested an even split to avoid having to do the math. Anne worked out the shares on her cell phone. I started to pull money out of my wallet when Michelle told me I wasn't paying.
"Thank you!" I said. No, thank me for taking them to the airport. But I was supposed to be saving them money!
Before we left, they did what Tiffani called "their mumbly prayers." She asked if I was going to write about it, and I said I already had. Oh snap!
Outside, I led them to my car, walking up that hill. Michelle took a picture of the sign that gave instructions on how to prevent "runaways," a term she'd never heard applied to cars. Tiff had called shotgun (Michelle had called it on Thursday). They thought it was an adventure just getting into the car, but the real adventure was only just beginning.
Anne was unsure I would even be able to get out, but I waited for an opening and then hit the gas. It's the only way to get out of a damn parking space when you're on an incline! And then we went up and down Pine, even stopping at a light, which is the most terrifying thing there is. Because when you get to go again, you have to keep your left foot on the brake and hit the gas with your right foot and then take your foot off the brake. Or else you get that horrible backwards lurch that scares the shit out of you. Fucking gravity.
I let them out at the hotel and went looking for a parking space. I found one a few blocks down Geary and walked back to the hotel. The girls were packing things up in the lobby, and Michelle was frantically looking for her work keys. She looked everywhere and everywhere and also everywhere, and then, just a couple minutes after saying a prayer, she found them in an outside pocket she'd already checked before. Trust in Mac, folks: prayer works!
Anne gave me some mini Oreos and some purportedly "really good Israeli chocolate." If I could read Hebrew, I'd know what the hell it's called.
Tiffani showed me her laptop, Campbell. "This is what I talk to you on." Eee! I asked her why it was named Campbell, and she said she had told me before.
"You say a lot of things," I replied. So she told me the story, and it didn't sound familiar to me at all. But if she thought she'd told me, she probably did. We do talk a lot.
They still had a few days left on their Muni passes, so Tiffani tried to pass them off on some arriving tourists. She explained the situation to a British/Australian/accented couple who looked sort of skeptical and afraid of her. They did take the passes, but they may have thrown them out as soon as we left on suspicion of anthrax.
Michelle needed to walk off her tension, so it was good for her that I had parked several blocks away. She was just glad she hadn't flushed her keys down the toilet. Flushed her keys down the toilet?
"You commented on that post!" she said.
"You say a lot of things," I replied. So she told me the story, and it sounded vaguely familiar.
Tiffani asked if that was going to be my excuse for everything. I offered that it could very truthfully be used against me. ...Case in point.
Over halfway to my car, I realized I'd been an ass and asked if anyone wanted me to take a bag. "Yes!" cried Tiffani, and I took it off her hands.
I had cleaned out my trunk for the first time in almost a year in order to make room for the luggage, which all fit, even Tiffani's giant backpack filled with rocks. Tiff had called shotgun again, but I let her in last for making fun of Michelle.
I made my way to 101 and drove us to the airport. The Strokes came on the radio, and Tiff said that we had a good radio station. I agreed. New York had crappy radio stations, apparently. Tiff appeared beat, but Michelle and Anne carried on a lively conversation in the back. Every now and then, I would just marvel at the fact that Tiffani was in my car!
Tiff joined the conversation at one point, mentioning a time she'd been struck to the brink of unconsciousness by a mosh pit. I asked her when that was, and she said she'd told me, and then we both said, together, "You say a lot of things."
Distracted by thinking about how I would write that scene in this post (and not in the way I just wrote it, even), I missed the exit to the airport. No one seemed to notice as we passed it on our right. I took the Millbrae exit and turned around, and no one said a word. Maybe they should have taken a taxi after all.
I entered the airport from the south entrance and drove toward the international terminals, as instructed by the sign.
"Uh, I think you want to be going to the domestic terminals," said Michelle.
"Not in crazy San Francisco!" said Tiffani. JetBlue was in the international terminals for whatever reason.
I found a spot to park on the curb and popped the trunk. I helped them get their luggage out.
And then we had to say our goodbyes for real! We urgle-blurgled.
But that wasn't enough for Tiffani, who called me an hour later because she wanted to say goodbye properly. Remember when I said that in some ways, we are extremely similar? This is one of them.
Remember when I said that in some ways, we are polar opposites? Because by the time she reads about how much fun I had with her, she'll be on the other side of the country.