It’s amazing how I’ll go weeks and do nothing interesting, and then all of a sudden, I will have the most insane day ever. That day was yesterday. After an early morning meeting in the city, I was feeling exhausted and hung-over from my mother’s extravaganza the previous night, and decided to call in sick to work. Feeling kind of gross, I decided I needed to go on a long walk around San Francisco and ended up in Chinatown.
In and out of little shops, I debated over each and every piece of crap I considered buying. I tried on Kung Fu shoes and kimonos, examined bamboo and dim sum, discovered shot glasses, mugs and mini-license plates with my name on them.
Suddenly, I found myself in front of Old Saint Mary’s Church, the very church where my folks were married 31 years ago. I wandered inside and sat down. The church was pretty empty, with a smattering of tourists at the back. A couple of elderly ladies sat across the aisle from me and an old nun, straight out of central casting, lit candles in the corner. All of a sudden, a janitor wheeled out a piano and a violin and 2 musicians appeared. For an hour, the four of us (old ladies, nun and me) were treated to a classical music concert in the middle of a church in the middle of the day in the middle of Chinatown.
I walked back to my car and called Joe to see what he was doing, hoping he’d join me at the movies or come over to watch Blow Out. He insisted I meet him and his boyfriend Alec for lunch. They’d rally Amanda and we’d all rendezvous at the California Pizza Kitchen on Van Ness. Uh, okay.
Over lunch, we debated how to spend the rest of our day. Joe and Itty wanted to experience the most “suburban” afternoon ever, hitting Target and Sizzler to make fun of the regular people. After all, we’d already experienced CPK. Alec and I wanted to sip Chardonnay and poke through designer stores. As a compromise, we ripped up little pieces of paper, wrote down our afternoon excursion idea, and threw them all in a take-out container. The plan was to do whichever activity we picked, regardless. This didn’t happen. With each selection, at least two of our four refused, from sandcastle building (me) to Marine World (Joe) to wine-tasting (Alec). We decided on board games and beer and headed back to Joe and Itty’s apartment.
We ended up sitting around on couches, watching Adventures in Babysitting, Alex showing up halfway through. Joe soon announced he was hungry again, and so began the hour long discussion on where to go for dinner. Still itching for suburbia, Itty was desperate to hit Marie Calendar’s, light years away in Serramonte. Alec and I wanted to sit by the fire at Park Chow. Joe grabbed a round of beer and demanded that we decide by the time the beers were done. Yet again, we pulled out the slips of paper and offered dinner suggestions. One after another, they were all nixed.
Marie Calendar’s it was.
We piled in one car and headed to Daly City, appalled at how long it takes to leave civilization.
“Oh relax. We’re almost there.”
“Get out your passports, folks.”
The only upside is that we passed Toons, which is another story for another day, but one I told in the car on the way there. As we arrived at Marie Calendar’s, we were told there’d be a wait. A wait? At MC’s? You’ve got to be shitting me.
This is when Joe and I decided to peruse the salad bar as a means of killing time and making fun of it. I won’t describe for you what it entailed, other than to say the melon was so dry, it had cracks. Joe looked around the restaurant and declared, “This place is depressing! My god, where the fuck are we?”
Finally seated, I believe as a way of getting me to stop making fun of the artwork, we were relegated to the furthest reaches of Marie’s. Above our table was a sign which read, “Sailboat Rides: 50 cents.” After an eternity, we were approached by a tiny little waitress who asked to take our drink orders. Alex innocently asked what kind of beer they had.
The waitress stepped back, looked at the table and suddenly announced, “Under state law, I am required to tell you that I am a minor and I do not know what types of alcoholic beverages are available. I am not allowed to take any kind of alcoholic drink order and the only reason I’m here is because I’m filling in for Janelle who is working the salad bar. If you want, I can go find out. However, under penalty of law, I cannot even discuss liquor.”
She was met with 5 blank stares.
We spent the entire meal in hysterics, finding each moment more bizarre than the previous. Joe, for reasons no one understands, ordered the chicken fried steak, which came with mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley. “This is disgusting.” He cringed. “I can’t eat this.”
“All chicken fried steak is disgusting, Joe. That’s why they don’t have it at fancy restaurants.”
“But I didn’t expect it to be like this. I thought it would be campy. This is just sad.”
The highlight of the meal was the free cornbread and honey butter, perhaps the only palatable food on premises. Otherwise, it was all appalling. Even the iced tea was gross, pre-sweetened with a metallic aftertaste.
This didn’t stop anyone from ordering dessert however. 2 huge sundaes arrived, one brownie concoction and something called “The Big Apple.” Both were disgusting, cakey and sticky. It all tasted cheap, really. Just like really cheap, generic, institutional food. By this point, the novelty had worn off. I wanted out. After debating breaking a window and fleeing this hellhole, the bill finally arrived.
Nothing made us laugh harder than the bill. Why? Because after piles of disgusting, poorly made food and incredibly shitty service, not to mention the ambiance of a rest home for low income geriatrics, our bill was $100.
“I think I just paid $20 for a week of diarrhea.”
“I can’t believe we came all the way out here for this shitbox. All I wanted was big food in a homey atmosphere, with a fireplace and cheap desserts.”
“So, you mean Park Chow.”
“This is the most suburban day, ever.”
“Yeah. And you know the worst part? Now we have to drive all the way home…”