Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Up Side

My childhood was a series of moves. This was not the fault of my mother, bless her heart, but extenuating circumstances and my father and life. Except for that brief period when my father decided to start anew and moved my mother down to L.A. (and then two weeks later decided that family life was not his baliwick and fled to Alaska; I wish I was making this up, but I'm not), I've spent all my life in the Bay Area.

After my father returned from Alaska (okay, kicked out for practicing medicine without a license, so family legend goes), my parents decide to make one more try. You can imagine how that went. Anyway, my father wasn't a bad man, just a very confused and sad one, and over the years he really tried. That his efforts always failed is immaterial in a way. Until he remarried, my parents occasionally played "married" in that they would take us out for dinner and we would pretend to be a real family. This wasn't as pathetic as it sounds.

My father was born into the wrong class and the wrong time. I can actually see him as the younger, impoverished son of the some earl who went off to the colonies to make his fortune. I have something of a fixation on the British colonial settlement of Kenya and, boy, he'd have fit right in. In reality, he was the son of a clerk and had a fairly impoverished upbringing in Glasgow. I guess you'd call his family the gentile poor. But he was definitely out of place, because he had a tremendous sense of adventure. When I was a kid, we never went out to dinner. We journeyed to dinner, to strange out of the way diners and restaurants in what then was the hinterlands. He loved to drive and a night out with Dad was never less than a thirty-mile jaunt somewhere.

The point of all this is that there is a restaurant near my current house. It's been in business since I've been ten and I'm now fifty-three. And one of the first things we did when we moved out here was to go to this restaurant. And the same woman who was hosting when I was a kid was STILL there. And so was most of the staff. We went there for dinner last night. The old hostess has now retired, but many of the same staff are still there. There's a busboy that has been there since I was a kid.

It's cool to take your kids to a place where you can say, hey, I came here with your grandparents when I was ten. And it's the same. It's like a time warp but not. Like I said. Cool.

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