In 2006, I moved away, because of a job.
Last Wednesday, she came to visit me, because of a job. Sort of. It was on the way. To Wyoming. You know how it goes with best friends.
The plan was for me to leave my car at the BART station for her to drop her luggage in, but I was a loser and got there when the parking lot was full. So the new plan was for her to call me when she got in so I could pick up her luggage and return to work. Her plane was delayed a bit, so I ended up going over around noonish.
I couldn't stop in the shuttle zone, so I waited a little more forward. I imagined Melanie (toughcookie42) would be standing in a more visible area, though. So I left the car and, lo and behold, I saw her. Being me, I sneaked up behind her and hugged her from behind. Though startled at first, she returned the hug fiercely until she said, "I don't even know if it's really you!" So she turned around and saw me for real and gleefully hugged me again.
I honestly do not think anyone has ever been that happy to see me in my entire life.
After putting her luggage into my car, I asked if she was hungry. She said she could go for a burger, so we hit up the Carl's Jr. I dropped her off back at my place so she could take a shower and a nap, and I went back to work.
At work, I proceeded to finagle my way out of working Friday. The timing worked out in my favor, as my awesome boss was totally going to suggest I take the day off anyway.
When I got back home, Melanie was undoubtedly watching some brand of Law and Order because at any given time, there are at least three different episodes of some brand of Law and Order airing, and Melanie will find one. Because we had on many occasions in Ann Arbor watched a movie while eating frozen pizza, I arranged for us to do just that on our first night.
The pizza: Safeway Select Chicken Parmesano.
The movie: Melinda and Melinda, starring Will Ferrell, one of her favorite actors. Unfortunately, the movie wasn't that great; it was the first Woody Allen flick I was sort of meh on.
Then I was going to show her the rest of The Office S1, except she realized she'd seen it all, not knowing it was a mere six episodes long. So we watched the deleted scenes instead, and HOLY GOD, they were like forty minutes long. That's what I call additional content. And they were funny as hell, too.
We attempted the "Diversity Day" commentary, but I fell asleep because I was tired, and, luckily, she was tired too, so we both turned in early because we are old.
Thursday, I went to work, and Melanie went to Alcatraz. In a way, it was kind of a clever foreshadowing of the night's Office episode.
On returning home, I discovered that Melanie had eaten all my potato chips. I didn't waste much time before preparing dinner. Melanie found Clueless on the TV to entertain her while I worked on the gourmet dish of Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper with ground turkey. I'd never made one of these with an entire pound of ground turkey, since I was usually only feeding myself and I was also frugal and wanted the meat to last. But I decided to try following the instructions and, damn, that's a lot of meat! There's meat in every bite! Melanie said it smelled yummy. It didn't taste too bad either. During dinner, I introduced her to Avatar by showing her a good stretch in the middle of Book One (episodes 7 to 12, minus "The Great Divide" because it's pointless).
We watched enough Avatar to be able to skip commercials during My Name Is Earl and The Office. Later that night, Melanie came across Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Surprisingly enough, she hadn't seen it before! And she calls herself a fag hag. John Cameron Mitchell makes a frighteningly convincing woman. She thanked me for watching a gay movie with her (it was on Bravo, of course).
A lot of our time together was spent watching stuff, but that is the foundation our friendship is based on! Watching stuff. Kill Bill. The X-Files. Alias. Oz. There are deeper bonds between us, but it really comes down to Watching Stuff.
Friday! Oh, Friday. We had made plans to meet Kelli, drive into the city, explore Valencia and eat lunch, and go to the Exploratorium before coming back to my place. Kelli had to leave after lunch, though.
A little after 9, Kelli called, and my floating holiday was upon us. We picked her up from the BART station and headed toward the highway. In the backseat, Kelli joked about going to IKEA and getting finger puppets, and I said that, well, it was on the way, so we could stop there if she wanted. She said we could even have breakfast!
We had no trouble parking; the lot was practically empty. "It's Friday morning," I mused. "Everyone is at work."
When we got to the entrance, we found out that, er, no. The reason the lot was empty was because the store wasn't open yet. But the restaurant opened at 9:30, so we waited ten minutes.
The IKEA breakfast is A DOLLAR, people. ONE DOLLAR. Or two dollars, if you get French toast sticks, which I did. Scrambled eggs and potatoes and
Melanie supports the Michigan Squirrels.
When the store finally opened, Kelli found her finger puppets, and I struggled to get some sparkling pomegranate juice for a wine party Saturday night. Because otherwise what would I drink, right?
After Melanie got a cinnamon roll (also a mere dollar!) and a Diet Coke, it was off to the city with us! I tried not to get us lost using my keen sense of orientation and guessing what exit to take and which direction to go. Off Valencia, I found some free street parking! Woo! All hail side streets.
First, Melanie and Kelli spied a bookstore, so they perused. Melanie is a bigger science geek than I am, and she wrote down titles of interesting science books she found. I looked at graphic novels.
Then I attempted to show Kelli and Melanie the pirate store, and...it was closed. It didn't open till noon! Arr! And...the same went for Paxton Gate, which I thought Melanie would like (documented proof, there!). So we just wandered down Valencia, wasting time. Kelli checked out the programs at New College.
Since Kelli was on a tight schedule, I decided we should eat lunch and then check out the post-noon places. We had lunch at Phoenix, the Irish pub with the great chicken sandwich. The girls split a plate of tay-tos and aioli, which was so unhealthy but so good. My chicken sandwich, unfortunately, was not as divine as before; it didn't seem to have that hint of lime. Plus, the lady charged me for substituting "guacamole" (by which they mean avocado).
Lunchified, we went across the street to look at dead things. I felt sorry for the lion who died to become a rug. There was just something...who the fuck wants to lie down on a dead lion? Or a dead zebra? Isn't that gross? In lighter news, Melanie and I tried to figure out a trick lock. We got it after being given a hint.
The pirate store was also entertaining. The girl behind the counter said, "That's an interesting design on your shirt." I looked down to see what I was wearing, and aha! Hypotamoose, an appropriate shirt for the Exploratorium.
Kelli had to leave for class, and she offered to walk to the BART station, which was only a few blocks away. She exchanged hugs and was off. Melanie and I left soon after to maximize our Exploratorium time.
We walked down the street where I had parked my car.
And it wasn't there.
I knew where I had parked, and it wasn't there.
Kelli called. She had left her stuff in my car. Which wasn't there.
Melanie wondered if I had blocked a driveway, but I didn't think I had. Then I noticed that there was a sign that said "1 Hour Parking." I never have issues parking in the city because I only come after 6 or on weekends, when street parking is unrestricted. My car had been towed. Because no one would steal that fucker.
As amusing as it is to say, "Dude, where's my car?" it is so very not funny when it actually happens.
I needed to find out where the fuck my car was. I needed the number of the towing company. The laundromat on the corner had a sign that involved towing, so I figured the owners would have the number for whoever came out there. We found a woman with very limited English comprehensibility, so that was no help. The parking lot across the street had the number for a towing company, so I called and described my car. The woman looked and looked but didn't find it. The lot also had a number for the SFPD, so I called and, sure enough, my car had been towed.
FOR BLOCKING A DRIVEWAY. I swear, it couldn't have been more than an inch or two. (That's what she said.)
The towing place was on 4th, and I figured since our day was shot anyhow, we'd take a scenic walking tour. On the way, Melanie found out that she pretty much had a job, which was good for her, although she felt bad for being so happy when I was so down. Kelli left her stuff in my car! And she'd paid for my breakfast! And she didn't want us to drive in in the first place! And now we wouldn't have time for the Exploratorium! I SUCKED SO HARD.
On the way, we passed the Civic Center BART station, which meant that I could consolidate some of my BART tickets, which I had brought just in case. This was such a good news/bad news day, and if I were more industrious and clever, I would actually frame this narrative using that convention. The bad news in this case was the incredibly slow woman who was incapable of delivering ticket amounts that did not end in 00.
Finally, we reached the towing place, and I took a number. 134. We watched the spectacle of a man who, when told that even though he had somehow followed the towing truck there, it would still take forty-five minutes, yelled, "What the FUCK do I do until then?" And then spouted some sketchy shit about "I'll be going over this with the police; the less you and I talk, the better." And then, "You're part of a reprehensible system, that's not your fault." To which the woman awesomely replied that she loved her job and he was the one who came in banging his helmet on five-thousand-dollar equipment and making a scene.
My number was called, and I got the same window as the crazy but a different woman. She asked to see my driver's license, and I had a fuck of a time trying to get it out of the sleeve in my wallet. My hands were sweaty from the stress and the walking. And my wallet was fat with cards, so it was hard to slide the whole thing through, and it was a very dumb spectacle in comparison, but in the end, I had to pay $188.25 to get my fucking car back. In a cruel coincidence, the number of the address I was towed from was the number of my apartment's address.
Going outside, I handed some guy my keys, and he brought my car over. My caaaaaar!! Which...had a $75 parking ticket on the windshield. Joy of joys.
Since our Exploratorium plans were shot, Melanie suggested checking out Muir Woods, which Kelli had recommended at breakfast (along with three thousand other places I was supposed to take Melanie in the limited time we had). I had no idea where they were or what they were or even that they existed before this morning, but apparently they were right off the highway. So we headed toward the Golden Gate Bridge. When we hit Lombard, I called JZ for directions, but we were already on the right track, generally.
We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, and Melanie admired the bay. The North Bay was more mountainous, and the scenery pleased the Michigan girl. A couple miles went by with no sign of Muir Woods, but once I threatened to stop at a gas station and ask for directions, there the exit was! And I continued to follow signs, hoping they were the right ones. We drove up a curvy twisty mountain road, and I tried not to kill us. I succeeded.
Finally, we reached Muir Woods. It was three dollars to get in, and Melanie didn't actually feel like hiking. So we looked up and saw the tall trees and deemed that good enough. In the visitor's center, we looked a topographical map of the area and tried to figure out where to go next. Maybe Muir Beach? But we'd seen some signs about closed roads and weren't sure how that translated into what we were seeing. Okay, we would just head back.
The car was still there where I had left it, for which I was thankful. A sign pointed toward San Francisco, so I went in that direction. Melanie soon realized, however, that it wasn't the same road we had come up on. I was confused as to why it didn't just let us go back the way we came. The road went both ways! But...this road probably led to Muir Beach. Well then.
I again attempted not to kill us and succeeded. When we saw the sign for Muir Beach, we turned and crossed a freaky little bridge to the little parking area. The beach was pretty. Melanie wanted to touch the
At which point the tide rose and soaked our shoes.
Really. This day. We laughed and hugged each other.
My car was still there. I took off my shoes; luckily, I enjoyed driving barefoot. On our way down, we passed the Zen Center, which amused us.
We crossed the Golden Gate back to the city. I still wanted to show Melanie the Palace of Fine Arts because it was pretty. I followed the signs, which directed us right into the parking lot. We walked barefoot on the asphalt, which was kind of cold. But pink building! And park with ducks! And a fountain! It was worth it, come on.
Then we faced rush hour traffic on our way out. Out of the dreadful city and its evil parking rules and reprehensible towing system.
On the way, Melanie noticed that Hal Sparks was at Cobb's Comedy Club this weekend. She loved Hal Sparks a lot. I took note of this fact.
Back at my apartment, I felt like we should watch Entourage with dinner, and surprise! My S2 DVDs had arrived! Perfect.
I set to work making dinner, which was spaghetti with turkey meatballs (thank you, Foster Farms!) and garlic bread. Melanie was very happy; she said it was just the sort of dinner her mom made.
I put on the Comic-Con episode, and five minutes in, it started skipping horrendously. This day. The DVDs had been characterized as "Like New." Clearly not. Thankfully, we watched two other episodes that did work.
Then we sped away to upanashad's place for the Avatar finale. We were a couple minutes late, but that's what DVRs are for. gymble and her husband were also running late anyway.
At approximately 8:12, I turned the volume up on the TV, and the DVR suddenly turned off. upanashad frantically tried to restore it, and it did pop back on, and it did appear to resume recording, but we had lost a minute or two in there. When gymble and her husband arrived, upanashad tried to play the finale.
But her Satanic DVR was ON CRACK and would only display WITCHCRAFT SYMBOLS now, despite working fine two minutes before. THIS DAY. She said she could try doing something after the recording was done, so until then we watched Scrubs, which was really funny. When that was done, the DVR seemed to be working again, so we watched the Avatar finale, which I will write about later. And then we showed gymble the glory of Prison Mike.
Watching stuff. It's what friends DO, man.
Introductons were made upon leaving because I am an awesome host.
Back at my apartment, I watched the missing two minutes of the finale followed by BSG, which I may not bother to write about at all. I spent most of the night reading about and discussing the Avatar finale.
At around 2:30, I went to bed, and I noticed I had a voicemail. It was my uncle-from-work, who needed me to send him a bunch of files for a meeting he had in the morning. And he needed them by 7:30 EST. Which was 4:30 my time. If I hadn't checked my voicemail and sent those files, he would have called and woken me up two hours later, so whew.
Saturday's plans were much more structured! We met gymble and her husband for lunch at the Public Market. We all ended up getting food from different vendors. I got something Mediterranean that, while tasty, left me strangely unsatiated. We goofed around in Borders before heading across to the movie theatre, where we saw Stranger Than Fiction, which was really good.
My car was still where I'd left it, so that was good. We had a couple hours to kill, so I took Melanie into Berkeley. After some circling, we parked in my favorite lot, which was only a dollar for an hour. In that hour, Melanie got a Diet Coke, looked at shoes (girl!), and learned what Cthulhu looks like. Also, someone liked my "I'm famous on the internet" shirt.
Back at the apartment, we changed into party clothes and headed to Zachary's for dinner. I found street parking that we examined closely to make sure it was totally legal. It appeared to be a game day, based on the Berkeley traffic and tailgaters, so the lauded pizza place was packed. But in a very cool move, they let you order your pizza before being seated since the things take half an hour to make anyway. I saw an attractive Indian girl and thought maybe she'd make a good wife. Maybe.
While we waited, Melanie looked at more shoes, and then we just waited outside on the bench, and then inside once it became less crowded. Finally, we were seated, and within minutes, our pizza had arrived. I'm not a huge fan of deep dish in general since I'm more of a cheese person than a sauce person, but it was still very tasty.
Across from us, it looked like some girl was getting a birthday pizza, and we were all asked to sing along. At this point, I discovered that the Indian girl was shrill and obnoxious and would not make a good wife, so I'd have to keep looking.
Having eaten the famous pizza, we proceeded to my co-worker Julie's party, which was easier to do since my car was right where I had left it. The party was a pretty fun affair. Melanie enjoyed Julie's pit bull puppy, who was very excited to see everyone. We spent a while flipping through Hey! It's That Guy! Melanie knew pretty much everyone in the book. Sadly, Jay Underwood was not present. A couple other co-workers showed up. They all probably assumed Melanie was my girlfriend, but whatever. Julie's husband made tasty butternut squash soup and...all sorts of other things. We laughed about Borat.
Outside, we played with fire and talked to some of Julie's friends. It was a party formed from different networks, so it wasn't like we were the only people who didn't know everyone else.
I had left a message for Kelli apologizing profusely for getting my car towed with her stuff in it, but she returned it with a message saying not to worry, it was no big deal. I was glad the contents of her bag were not of the utmost importance; we'd work something out to get it back to her.
Before leaving, I borrowed Dawn of the Dead to fulfill our ultraviolence quota for the weekend.
On Sunday, we tried to do the Exploratorium again. I followed the directions, but as I approached, I saw that there was no way to turn in to the lot from my side of the road. In fact, I had somehow entered some sort of NO TURNING NO STOPPING ZONE, which I must keep in mind for a metaphor later. We were hurtling toward the Golden Gate Bridge with no escape. I took the first opportunity I had to exit, which ended up getting us HORRENDOUSLY LOST. We went in circles a few times before getting properly oriented.
I swear, there was this one hill I think my poor little car actually had trouble going up. Who builds a city like this? Really.
Take two, and I once again saw that there was just NO WAY to get into the Exploratorium from my side, so I just followed a different road and found parking by East Beach. Thanks, East Beach!
The Exploratorium was a good time. Science is awesome!
As we walked back to the car, which was still there, thankfully, I called Juliana and asked for dinner recommendations since we were headed into North Beach. She named two Italian restaurants, the names of which I promptly forgot but whose general addresses I remembered.
Going down Columbus, we kept our eyes out for street parking near the club, and I found a cushy little spot that seemed perfectly legal. We bought our tickets for the Hal Sparks show. Melanie said her mom and brother were going to be really jealous. She was really excited, so I was glad I'd suggested we go, even though I really only knew Hal Sparks from I Love the '80s and such.
I wasn't exactly sure how far Juliana's recommendations were, but after a few blocks, they were deemed Too Far since Melanie was hungry and, besides, she wanted a burger. So we went to the closest place that would have burgers, Washington Square Bar and Grill. But nooo, it was too fancy for burgers. So we went to Pasta Pomodoro instead, which turned out to be a good choice because they were very quick, and the rigatoni was the best I'd ever had. It may have been the only rigatoni I've had, but still. The mushroom cream sauce was made of yum, and I've never run out of pasta before I've run out of meat. They did not skimp on the chicken.
Since we still had time, I took us to the candy store with free fudge samples, where we tried a lot of fudge (and I tried some salt water taffy). Melanie even bought a block.
Then it was off to the club, where we waited to get in. As we entered, I noticed a sign.
They were taping tonight.
We were going to be on the DVD.
We were given a table near the stage, and we had to pass the time for nearly an hour as Richard Cheese came out of the PA.
Finally, the show started with Nico the gay Filipino. In every comedy show I've been to, the first comic has been so bad in comparison to the other two. I've managed to avoid crappy opening bands, but crappy opening comics? I've seen 'em. I think mostly because they're just local guys who think they're funny and not actually professional comedians.
The second comic was Sabrina Matthews, a lesbian comic I'd seen on Comedy Central. Melanie was happy, as she was a family favorite.
Then out came Hal Sparks, with red streaks in his hair and a Suicide Girls T-shirt. He told us that he was, indeed, filming for his DVD tonight, so don't be afraid of the cameras. And then he had to redo the intro, and we had to pretend like it was his real intro and all and clap wildly.
Hal Sparks was really, really funny. He put on a great show. He had me from his opening bit, which was all about how "Carmina Burana" (which he didn't know the name of) was the greatest song of all time because it made everything sound really dramatic and epic. He wanted it to be his theme music. Which led to mocking baseball players for coming out to heavy metal. And then he won me forever by doing a golfer's introduction to "Down with the Sickness," complete with the "Wah-ah-ah-ah-ah!"s.
I'm not going to recap his entire act because, you know what? You should totally buy his DVD when it comes out, because Melanie and I will be laughing hysterically on it.
As we left, there he was! We told him it was a hilarious show, and Melanie got to make her family jealous:
And so I decided to make...I don't know, I'll bet Aarika is jealous:
On our way out, we also met Sabrina Matthews, who was nice. Melanie joined her e-mail list.
My car was still there.
Back at the apartment, we watched Dawn of the Dead, in which a lot of people died gruesomely. Just the way we like it.
After a couple hours of sleep, I woke up to drive Melanie to the airport. If I weren't so groggy, maybe our goodbye would have been all sappy and shit. If my hands weren't dead by now, maybe the end of this post would be all sappy and shit.
Melanie describes the whole experience more concisely.