Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Do you want fries with that?

I was driving home from the Bay Area at 5 p.m. this afternoon and yawning repeatedly. I realized I was very sleepy and decided to take my usual sleepy driving remedy: a McDonald's iced mocha, which seems to wake me up instantly and allow me to finish my ride home.

I pulled into the drive-through of a McDonald's and did a double take when the first thing I was asked was "do you want oatmal with your happy meal?" "Uh...all I want is an iced mocha," I answered. "OK. Do you want fries with that?"

Now, I know that all these places are supposed to push extra stuff but sometimes it goes a bit overboard. Oatmeal for a side dish? At 5 p.m.? Fries with an iced mocha?

I somehow have the idea that the person on the other end of the microphone might have been having a little fun at the customers' expense. When I asked her about it, she didn't admit it, but the big smile on her face was all I need, as she continued to ask the next customer what extra thing they might want with their food.

It was almost worth going around for a second mocha just to see what she would try to tempt me with.

All things considered, it really was a lovely day. We were interviewing Lawrence Ewing, actor, singer, and board member for the Lamplighters. We were meeting him at 11 at his apartment in San Francisco. Now, parking in San Francisco is difficult at best, impossible most of the time.

I thought I had told the story of my parking angel here, but a search of my journal entry database seems to indicate that I have not. So, if you've heard this before, apologies.

Gilbert's family came out from Oklahoma for his memorial service and funeral back in 1986. His cousin had never visited San Francisco before, so the day after the memorial service, I offered to drive him and Gilbert's niece around the city so they could see a little before returning home. I was driving Gilbert's car and when I got into the car I said, "OK, Gilbert. I've been finding you parking place for years; now it's your turn to find me parking places." That day I found a parking space in the middle of Chinatown (I'd never even SEEN a parking place in Chinatown in all the years I'd lived there), and in front of the back door the Ghirardelli Square, again a place you normally have to park blocks away from.

Ever since then, Gilbert has been finding me parking places everywhere. People used to scoff when I said that, but so many people have seen it happen when I ask Gilbert to find a parking space for me, that I have a whole legion of believers. Gilbert has been dead nearly 25 years now and I did tell him he didn't have to look for parking for me any more, but he seems to still be doing it. I'm sure this is his penance for whatever sins he committed in his lifetime.

Naturally there was no parking near Lawrence's flat. I found a metered space, but even though I had lots of quarters, it was only good for an hour and I figured we'd probably need 2 hours (we did). So I called on the big guns: Gibert. On my return trip around the block there was a perfect parking spot right across the street. "Show off," I told him.

Only the problem is that though the size was perfect, the older I get the worse my depth perception gets. I used to be great at parallel parking on San Francisco hills (even using a stick shift), but I could not get angled right to get into this parking space and finally gave up.

"Let's change the request," I told Gilbert. I not only need a right sized parking space, but I need one that my aging eyes will let me park in. I drove around the corner and there was a space that looked almost perfect, that ended at a driveway. Just what I'd asked for. But I thought I might be leaning over into the driveway. I could just hear heavenly sighs as I gave up on that space as well. One car past that there was a space that was exactly the length of my car and that had both a driveway behind it and a fenced off grassy area in front of it. See what you think? Is this heavenly sarcasm, or what?

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When the interview (which was delightful) was over, Alison took off for BART and I decided to go across the Golden Gate Bridge and go home through Marin County so I could stop off and visit my mother. I was thinking I'd have lunch in Sausalito, which is a major tourist spot. All the fancy restaurants were crowded and there was no parking,but on the way out of town, I found this great little place.

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(notice that I'm parked directly across the street)

where I stopped for lunch. There were these great old guys there having lunch.

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I realized that the "old guys" were probably my age. You'd expect a couple of guys like this to be discussing sports, but they were talking about movies, actors and actresses, directors and Elizabeth Taylor's death and her movies. I was sorry that I wasn't close enough to really eavesdrop fully. but I thought it was so Sausalito.

Outside the cafe there was a bank of newspaper racks and I saw that Marin County Supervisor Charles McGlashin had just died suddenly of a heart attack at age 49. His aunt was a very good friend of my mother's and she has spoken with him often. I was shocked to read of his premature death and stopped at my mother's on the way home to talk with her (she had already spoken with his cousin). It was nice to visit with her, even briefly, and I watched her feeding her ducks, who were kind of hanging out on the little hill across the parking lot from her place, but when she walked out on the porch with bread in her hands, they immediately waddled across the parking lot to be fed.

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My mother says she likes how the male duck stands guard and doesn't eat until the female is finished eating.

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Mama duck must have been extra hungry because she gobbled up all the bread cubes herself, and ended up with bread sticking to her beak.

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But as it was getting on toward rush hour, I left after only an hour. I didn't expect that I'd be so sleepy, but I'm glad I was, or I never would have been offered oatmeal at 5 p.m.!


Harriet said...

Those look like mallards, which mate for life.

Bev Sykes said...

This same couple has come to my mother's porch for 3 years in a row now, when they are nesting and have little ones. (You can tell because the male is banded, the female isn't)