While I complain about pretty much everything about him, this past month has been so bizarre, such an ordeal, so profoundly overwhelming that when Sunday rolled around and I got my standard Big Chris text, I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Be at your house in 10.”
He sends this text almost every Sunday afternoon, having no idea if I’m even home. Chris has been like this for years. There’s a sick comfort in his reliability, his relentless teasing, the sheer volume of Chris’ Sunday evening consistency.
He barreled in the door, marching straight to the bathroom, and then taking over the television.
“The Raiders are in overtime. I will explain what that means during the commercial.”
It’s so rare that I experience this kind of obnoxious testosterone in a first world country, I kind of welcome it. It’s reassuring. Sure, he switched the channel in the middle of a very tense Real Housewives moment, but I could kind of switch off my brain.
After the football game, we began the discussion that dominates nearly every San Francisco conversation: Where should we go to dinner?
I spend hours a week standing somewhere inconvenient, awkwardly trying to agree on where to go to dinner.
Sunday night was no different.
We had to factor in everything else we’d individually eaten all weekend, the parking situation, cost, if we should call Brock to come with us, our conflicting food moods and our outfits.
“Well, I have clothes in my car.” Chris said.
“What clothes?” I looked at his cargo shorts and t-shirt and wanted to know my options.
Completely serious, Chris responded, “My tuxedo suit.”
We decided on dinner at “Gay Chow” which meant that Chris didn’t need to go black-tie for the occasion, and as we got in Chris’ car, he announced, “I already know where to park.”
“You need to park right by Safeway.” I said, as we approached Market Street.
“Yeah, I know. That’s what I was going to say.”
“Well then WHY ARE YOU DRIVING PAST SAFEWAY!”
“BECAUSE I CAN’T FIT IN THAT SPACE!”
“I AM IN POINTY TOES!”
“WELL THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DRIVEN! YOUR CAR IS A COMPACT SEDAN!”
“YOUR CAR IS NICER!”
“Well, that’s very true.”
Chris is the most cautious driver in the world. The only thing he’s more uptight about is parking. It’s ridiculous. I felt like I was volunteering with senior outreach.
“You have tons of space there.”
“This car is bigger than it looks.”
“You could park a motor home there.”
“There’s no way I can get in there.”
“Let me park it then.”
“Yeah, that’s gonna happen.”
Succumbing to peer pressure, Chris slowly began the process of parallel parking his precious Nissan on Church Street. Every car that whizzed by caused Chris to completely stop and wait for traffic to subside before continuing the parking ordeal. When a bus went by, you’d have thought we were under actual attack, from like, incoming fire. Chris froze, his shoulders tensed.
“I cannot believe we are still parking.”
“I cannot believe what a fucking bitch you are.”
“I already have enough girlfriends, Chris.”
“Woman, you need to shut up. I am concentrating!”
Finally and securely parked, and after Chris walked the entire perimeter of his vehicle, we made our way to Gay Chow.
Chris is a surprisingly complex person for being such a Neanderthal. He’s really, unexpectedly weird. I can’t figure out when it happened, what in his childhood made him so bizarre. Big Chris is like a car wreck. I can’t look away. He might do something funny.
Chris ordered a Bud and spaghetti and meatballs, and then stopped our waitress. “Can I get the calamari too?”
“Yeah, it’s grilled though.” She said. “It’s not fried.”
I knew he was going to say it before he said it. “Like I give a shit.”
The calamari arrived first, and fork in hand, Chris ate each piece one by one without speaking. Then our entrees arrived, and Chris was presented with a massive bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. He looked like a little kid.
Next to us, a hippie couple began to have a heated conversation about existentialism. They were wearing hand-knit sweaters and hats and the man began to tear up. Several times, the woman stood up to walk away, but sat back down. When I heard the phrase “past life,” I looked up at Chris.
Without missing a beat, he said, “I am well aware. We will discuss later.”
The conversation next to us continued, the man chocking back his emotion, the woman picking her teeth with a toothpick while pontificating on “vibes.”
I looked back up at Chris, twirling a huge piled of pasta onto his fork.
“Meatballs, meatballs.” He sang it like a child while eating his food and eavesdropping on the couple next to us. “Meatballs, meatballs, meatballs just for me.”
It was like I was in the twilight zone.
After telling me I wasn’t allowed to order dessert because I’ve been on a “thin roll” lately, Chris paid the bill and we left, leaving the hippie couple next to us in a deep, choked up discussion on “destiny.”
We walked back to Chris’ car as he regaled me with every single word of the conversation next to us. Like Rain Man. He knew their entire argument, everything they were wearing and did. He took it all it without saying a work or looking in their direction. It was amazing.
We drove back to my house and watched a movie while Chris explained Val Kilmer’s awesomeness to no one in particular.
“The waitress tonight was jealous of you.” He said.
I was in a good mood. I set him up for his big punchline. “Why?”
“Because of my boyish good looks.”
“Well, she can have them.” I said, punching him in the shoulder. But really I was just thinking thank God for Sundays…