Saturday, March 25, 2006
do you know swany river...
One of the many wonderful benefits of adulthood is that you can share the perks of your job with friends, and reap the benefits of having pals with the hook-up. Kate and Jenny (for all intensive purposes, my cousins) both work at the swanky San Francisco eatery, Scala’s Bistro, and I hadn’t been since they’d started working there. As neither sister was working on Friday night, we decided to meet for dinner at 8:15, were promised a fabulous table and an attentive and generous staff. Sweet!
I made plans to meet up with Mikey and his friends from college later in the evening, and headed out into the monsoon to meet my girls. As per Jenny’s instructions, I parked at Stockton-Sutter Garage and headed down to Union Square, forgetting my umbrella. Block after block in gold jacquard flats, I hopped through puddles and aimed for awnings. Soon drenched and wandering around Maiden Lane without a clue which direction to turn, I ducked into a souvenir shop, bought an umbrella and called Jenny.
“I’m soaked! I look like a hobo! Help!”
Finally pointed in the right direction, I booked it 4 blocks up Powell Street and into the huge, gorgeous and perfectly lit Scala’s. An intimidating French woman looked up from the reservations book.
“Hi!” I said a little too enthusiastically. “I’m here to see Kate and Jenny.”
“Oui! Elizabette? Yes, you come with me, you beautiful girl.”
Guided by Nathalie, I slid out of my coat and into a leather booth, grabbing Kate’s glass of wine before she could protest. We decided on appetizers and wine until Jenny’s boyfriend Mike showed up from some Model U.N. debate he’s working on, currently representing Australia. Our waiter approached and I looked up to find none other than Armando from Pub Quiz.
“Oh, no it isn’t Miss Beth!”
“Oh yes it is!”
“Honey, you’re drenched. You need a big ole glass of something fancy.”
Armando knows me so well. We enjoyed spectacular food and drinks and were soon joined by a dapper Mike. We had a wonderful time, getting the celebrity gossip from Nathalie and Joe the Manager, and feasting on amazing pasta. Done with dinner, we paid our generously little tab and headed back out into the rain.
Off to Grand Café, Kate and I decided to huddle under and umbrella and scream the Newsies Soundtrack the whole way there. I think we scared some tourists with our vocal stylings, but when trapped by the rain, I sing.
Once again soaked, we ran into Grand Café and found our friends. I’d called Mikey and Chris to gather their groupies and meet us there, and our collection of people, now including Joe the Manager, ended up sitting in a huge circle of leather chairs around a fireplace, sipping cocktails and chatting about Don Ho.
Mikey’s friends, John and Chuck, were in town to see Mikey’s new place and were anxious to go to a bar with, how shall I put this, less ornate floral arrangements. So, we finished our drinks, gathered our coats, said goodbye to the unwilling and walked down to Johnny Foley’s Irish House, which was packed and had a live band.
We found a table close to the bar and I bartered with some bikers for their candle. An extinguished candle on a table is an easily fixed instant ambiance boost, and truth be told, there were a ton of guys in there and I look much better by candelight. Who doesn’t?
Joe the manager selected my wine and Kate and I settled into one of our intense discussions. Soon, I noticed Mikey was missing.
Ah yes. My sweet, shy, aw shucks, adorable roommate is, in layman’s terms, a pimp. He’d met a girl named Kathleen and was “talking” with her on the sidewalk. Kathleen was in town from Ohio and, in addition to being perfectly attractive, was wearing a white dress shirt, brown and pink striped pants and a matching brown and pink striped vest, buttoned.
Mikey walked back to the table. I couldn’t help myself.
“Where’s your friend, the mime?”
“Yeah, did she make you any balloon animals?”
“I want my face painted.”
“What’s the name of her Barbershop Quartet?”
I should learn to shut up, because I’ve not only been that girl, but I needed Mikey as my wing man. Earlier, I’d peered my head around a pillar to see the band and was soon flirting with some cute guy from Maryland. The problem was, the bar was so loud, I’d asked him his name three times and could never hear the answer. I’d finally given up and pretended I understood, but there was no way I could bring him back to my table and introduce him to my friends with no name. I excused myself.
“Oh Mikey. Can I see you for a second.”
I briefly explained my situation, hid, and watched Mikey lean up to the bar next to Maryland. A minute later, Mikey walked by and whispered “Michael.”
Oh. Well, that’s easy to remember.
For those that are curious, Michael from Maryland’s exact celebrity equivalent is the lead singer from Cake. Mikey from Home disappeared with Kathleen once again, just as Armando was arriving fresh from finishing up at Scala’s.
“Armando, this is Michael. He’s from Maryland.”
Michael from Maryland leaned in to shake hands. “Boy, Armando. That’s one hell of a flashy shirt.”
Oh my god. Do not diss Armando’s shirt. I love Armando. And I love his shirt.
“Perhaps it’s not L.L. Bean, boring state man, but it’s fabulous.”
To Maryland’s credit, he quickly recovered, but I’ll pick the adorable gay who comes to Pub Quiz and comps my carpaccio over a goateed stranger in a canvas barn coat any day. Which is why I’m single.
Maryland’s moves were creeping me out and I wanted to chat with Mikey’s friends from college. I made vague plans to meet up with Maryland on Saturday and moved on. *
By this time, it was 1:30. We headed outside to find Mikey and Barbershop Quartet in an emotional goodbye embrace. Apparently, her friends nixed any further, um, interaction with Mikey, having a plane to catch the next morning, and she was dragged into a cab and out of our lives.
I was bummed. I mean, I wanted her to draw my charicature.
We said goodbye to Kate, Joe and Armando and began to walk back to the car. Suddenly, John announced, “I’m hungry. Can we get food?”
“Sure. Do you want disgusting Mexican food or disgusting diner food?”
“Um, disgusting diner food.”
“Lucky Penny, it is.”
The Lucky Penny was packed at 3am, cars overflowing from the tiny parking lot and groups of drunks crowding around the door. Mikey, John, Chuck and I settled into a booth and ordered grease. I think a fight may have broken out at some point. I can’t be sure, the place was so hoppin’.
It’s been awhile since I’ve stayed out till 4am, wandering around San Francisco is a metallic gold cardigan and ruined shoes, mascara running down my face and an onion ring hanging out of my mouth, but it was fabulous.
We sang all the way home, and as I crawled into my big cozy bed and glanced at my clock glowing “4:25” I made a mental note of two things: The first is where we parked the car. The second? When in doubt, a woman should never dress like she works in a 1920’s malt shoppe…
*Monday morning update: So I get to work this morning and there's a message on my work voicemail left at 2:35 am from Maryland...super drunk. I gathered the co-workers around for a listen and I think it's safe to say, the immense laughter began with the sentance "I'm staying at the Westin St. Francis in Room 527. Use this information as you see fit." Ewwww...
at 11:36 AM