Typical of Maureen, she wished to be low key on her birthday. She went to yoga, a new location as the athletic club closest to us has begun cutting back. From there, she spent most of the day escorting her sister to a doctor’s appointment and the follow-on pharmacy pickup.
i had planned to take her out to a nice dinner. i suggested an excellent French restaurant, Et Voila (you wouldn’t have known it was French if i didn’t tell you, would you?). It’ a place we love both for the cuisine and the atmosphere. i gave her that choice with some other of our favorites. She considered some new ones she was researching before she agreed Et Voila was the best choice.
By three o’clock, i realized she had a demanding day. i called and said i could pick up Thai food for tonight, and we could go out another night to celebrate her birthday. She seemed thankful. When she started home from her sister’s place in Santee, about 20 miles north of here but tough in the commute traffic, she called. i revised my suggestion, giving her the choice of Romesco’s.
Romesco’s is one of our go to places. Its subtitle once was “Mediterranean Bistro,” but has since been revised to “Mexiterranean Bistro.” Good change. It originated in Tijuana and is still a thriving restaurant. A son of the original owners started this one just down the hill from where we live. It has gained notoriety for its wonderful dining and even more so for its tapas bar in the back. Almost since the beginning, Maureen and i take refuge at the well appointed bar in the restaurant. The tapas bar is party town with about five flat screens showing disco videos and a motif featuring Spanish bullfighting. The restaurant bar is quieter and the music is usually jazz. We share two or three tapas and drink a glass of wine or two.
Tonight, we shared salmon carpaccio, excellent with fried capers; a roadside ahi tuna tostada, and cochinita pibil Yucateca. They seemed even better than usual. We always have a glass of Ergo tempranillo. Tonight, Maureen tried a new one, a cabernet, tempranillo blend. She liked it. i’ll stick to my Ergo.
It all went well until i mentioned four San Diego high school baseball teams would be playing a double header in the Padre’s Petco Park in late April. She liked the idea of attending. Then i wondered how thrilled i would have been if my Castle Heights Tigers team had played in Sulphur Dell.
“What is Sulphur Dell?” she marveled.
“It was the oldest professional baseball park in the country at that time,” i explained. “The Nashville Vols, now defunct, played there in the Double A Southern League,” i continued, “i went there quite a bit.”
“Cy Fraser, Billy Parsons, Alan Hicks, and a lot of others went there when we were at Vanderbilt. My father took me there several times.” i was on a roll.
“i went there with several kid groups,” expanding, “In the sixth grade at McClain Elementary, they took the school patrol to Nashville to thank us for holding the traffic flags. We were supposed to go to the state penitentiary and to a wrestling match.
“The wrestling match was cancelled or something, so we went to the Vols’ game that night,” i should have stopped there…but i didn’t.
“We did get a tour of the penitentiary. That’s when i bought the miniature electric chair.”
Maureen stopped and looked at me accusingly, “Please tell me you are kidding.”
“Nah, i’m not kidding,” i foolishly went on, “They sold them in the little prison shop. They were wood. No electricity. The prisoners made them.”
It finally dawned on me this conversation was not going well. i shut up.
We enjoyed the rest of our tapas, paid our tab, and went next door to Baskin Robbins, one of Maureen’s favorite places in the world because they have jamocha almond fudge. Feeling guilty, i punished myself by not having some black walnut.
We came home. i’m still trying to figure out what happened to miniature electric chair. Perhaps i gave it to someone. Man, it was cool.