Lifestyle & Culture > Recalibrating


Published: October 3, 2010

Tons of words have been written about the Tiger Woods issue, even I tossed in a few. One the one hand, I see it as a tempest in a teapot. Here we take a guy who has one skill, playing golf. He gets millions for that and hyping products. Then we find he’s the married reincarnation of Wilt Chamberlain. I rarely quote Donald Trump, but he probably has it right. Tiger should just get divorced and be like Wilt, just hammer golf balls and women indiscriminately and it all goes away. But he has yet to do that. So as long as he’s still married, we now have a the recalibration for American husbands. “Yes, look honey, I know I screwed up, but look, I’m no Tiger Woods…” Enough with that. This is February. It has already been recalibrated as a month, it’s the only one with less than 30 days. I’ve mentioned before that there is good reason for that. It’s the grinding death month of year. We do get a federal holiday in the month, President’s day. But it is generally wasted as well, its still February wherever you go. It has Valentine’s day, which is generally the death shoals for relationships. And it has Mardi Gras, which I have never been to. But other people seem to enjoy. As a result, bars in San Diego have been jammed this past week. I’ve been doing my usual pubbing as a Standing Room Only event in most cases. But Saturday I find a stool at the Live Wire. That is my local dive bar. Not crowded at all, just a few strays here and there. The official uniform for guys at the bar was beard. Baseball cap and visible tats. I struck out on that score. But I was sitting there sipping my amber ale when another properly uniformed fellow walks in and takes the stool next to me. He looks like something the cat drug in. And he is carrying an aluminum case with a handle. Kind of like the kind I’ve seen on medical shows where they carry organs for transplants. We are walking distance to 3 hospitals… So I’m not overjoyed when he starts to open the case. Turns out it is a video camera and the guy is working on a documentary. He was out shooting homeless people and is now here to shoot the bar crowd. Heh. Bukowski was filmed in Barfly…I don’t see how I can object to this. He finishes shooting and sits down again on my left. To his left is his buddy. He turns to his bud and says “Dave has developed a real can-do attitude of late. I don’t like it. He’s always been the laziest motherfucker we knew. Now I have to recalibrate.” I left him to work his calcs on that problem and started up El Cajon to see what I could find. I see what would at one time have been called a bag lady leaning up against a tree. Not sure what the issue is, if she is sick or drunk or what. But as I catch up, she takes a deep breath, faces east and starts walking. I hadn’t realized it, but this was an uphill section. So far today I’d gone for a run in the park, surfed for three hours, biked and taken a yoga workshop on handstands. Bottom line, at 51 I didn’t realize there was even a hill here. This lady in her 60’s could barely crest it. And my Mom in her 70’s wouldn’t even try it. Physically, this had been a good week for me. I had 10 hours of surfing in. When I first started surfing that would have been a month worth of wave time. And today I was surprised after I caught my first ride. I got off the board and was heading out for a second wave and noticed that wow, my head was still dry. I usually got dumped on the first ride. Somehow I stepped off the board without a bath. Then a wave of sadness hit after the surfing and yoga class. I didn’t want to leave to go back East to teach. Teaching is always humbling, but teaching in Norfolk is humiliating. The instructors just get abused. Few people want to put forth a huge effort in a certain failure, but that is the outcome for everyone who teaches in this facility. But someone has to do it. This is my second time being the whipping boy in the past 8 weeks. Just have to stand up and make the best of the worst of it. It’s just not something I look forward to. I’d already had some soup for dinner, but it was a big workout day, so I figured maybe a little food might not be a bad idea. I see a Mexican place across the street. It has a drive though and a walk up window. Perfect! I dodge the traffic, cut across the barrier and order a carne asada burrito. It came in 2 minutes and was basically a steak wrap with guac and salsa. The salsa was killer and the steak was dead on. I generally prefer the rice and beans addition, but this was very good for what it was. I noticed a steady stream of drivers at the drive up window who agreed. So I found a new Mexican place close to mi casa. El Cajon, aka The Boulevard, is supposed to be hooker central for San Diego. But spotting them, especially as early as I am out is like spotting a whale in a river. I move on. Sitting at Ritual on the porch, I get to see the kitchen in operation. At Live Wire it was a one man show behind the bar. Here there are four people in the kitchen and five out front. The guys in the kitchen never rest. That is what I like about cooking, the continuous action. But this place is open for six hours. I don’t know that I like it that much. The window is open and I hear them talking, which is mostly not talking. There are all on task, with only the occasional “sorry” or “careful” as hot pots and pans are moved about. I see the fry guy making fish and chips, probably the most boring job there. But he does it with the same care every time. Sea salt on the chips, shake them in a bowl, plate them, then balance the fish on top. Even something that simple comes out as a work of art. But the guy doing the work is probably 80 pounds overweight, wearing a baseball cap sideways and just looks like hell. I’m impressed that that work comes out of these guys who really do look like seedy degenerates. None of them could do the customer facing work. Those people are a whole nother animal. I go inside and see the crowd. Nick has the bar. He never rests. And he is the model of customer service. Even when he is cleaning the bar or filling drinks, he is checking the crowd for eye contact, looking to see who needs something. It is Saturday night and the answer is “everyone”. But he keeps up. Tom has the reception desk. The young tattooed lass is the only one who breaks briefly. She stops offstage to make sure she is put together, then she is back into the fray. And the two owners are out there also. Every seat in the house is full and I’m in SRO mode. Then sure enough, just like at Live Wire, a camera guy shows up. Except this one has four or five assistants and he is taking still photos. So now we recalibrate from SRO to SRO plus deal with the camera shoot and decide if you want to be in or out. This is a lot of deciding for a guy who just wants to drink a beer and drink in the crowd. I mostly dodge the camera. Then four well dressed young lasses show up. They gaggle together and I overhear them talk. Mostly they are talking about women who can’t or won’t dress well. They are laughing at them. Meanwhile 10 feet away on the other side of the wall are the four guys in the kitchen who are dressed terribly and putting out brilliant food. I know how shallow these women are and how this entire scene takes everyone to work. The four ugly cooks making pretty food. The four pretty women talking ugly. The four person camera crew arranging glasses and bottle to make pretty pictures. And the service staff making pretty conversation. This is an incredible success across the board, it’s as a good a Saturday night as there is anywhere in America. I can’t help but wonder how miraculous it is that everyone found there role in life to make this work. Whether it was the players in the game…or those of us sitting there observing the show that we were extra’s for. It wouldn’t have worked otherwise.

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