My manuscript for the book is all but ready to go to the editor. Maureen and Sarah are doing a line edit to correct my grammar and silly mistakes, not to mention give me some good advice about content.
i am essentially done until Jennifer McCord, a rather remarkable more-than-an-editor receives the next version. It’s sort of like being in a vacuum. Lots of time to do things needing doing. It’s a strange feeling. So what do i do? Write. i’ve got several writings in the works. This is one.
i wish all of you could have been with me and Maureen on the Orange Avenue sidewalk outside Saiko Sushi in Coronado. It was a nice early evening.
It was early for supper as was now their custom: wait for the commuter traffic to die down, avoid the later crowds, and get them home at a decent hour because both went to bed earlier than when this whole thing began near forty years ago.
He mused as the two of them sat at the sushi diner, al fresco before sunset, in the strange combination as David Brooks would call it of “BoBo”(“BOhemian BOurgeois) on this island in the middle of the city in the Southwest corner in the late afternoon. The diner’s name struck him as a marketing double entendre: Saiko Sushi, or Psycho Sushi, which he thought was the actual name for quite a while.
She sat opposite him where she could look out on the green expanse where the original ferry landing was before they built the bridge.
He decided to try the old fashion, a strange headline cocktail at a Japanese restaurant.
He considered himself a sort of country expert on old fashions after he learned from a stout, friendly young woman who was the bartender at a kiosk in the lobby of a Seattle Hotel years and years ago. It was definitely not al fresco. He was the only one at the makeshift bar just down the lobby from the hotel’s signature bar and restaurant where a large crowd of guests were obviously having a good time. After a long day of briefing a Coast Guard ship on their role in a Navy amphibious exercise, he didn’t need that. Just a drink, order in, and rest, maybe a baseball game on television, and sleep. The kiosk bar seemed just right to get through the first requirement. He asked what do you recommend.
“How about an old fashion?” she asked.
“Sounds good,” he nodded.
The he watched as she muddled the powdered sugar, quarter slice of orange and maraschino cherry in a dash of water, how she added the bourbon (lord, oh lord, please, please, please, as one Mister James Brown once intoned, don’t use high end whiskey: that stuff is for neat and at the worst, on ice. Period). She splashed on the angostura bitters, added the ice, and, he thought, it was perfect.
And he remembered the father of the woman across the table from him on the sidewalk in this pre-sunset twilight. He had taken Ray home with him after a round of golf, asked him if had watched “The Party” and described it. Ray was skeptical but agreed to watch. He asked Ray if he would like an old fashion. Ray was skeptical but agreed. Ray loved both. In fact, he raved about both. Ray’s enjoyment pleased his son-in-law.
All of this, of course, came back to the woman across from him at the boutique sushi diner. He marveled. His wife was beautiful. Several years ago, she had let her hair go natural. The white hair added to her beauty.
Most of all, he marveled at how they fit. Neither was sure in the beginning. Then one night about the same time as this late afternoon dining, they had parked on the street near one of the open space canyons near the Kensington neighborhood and just talked as the sun set. It had been thirty-nine years since that talk.
He knew then, but he didn’t know. She was knock dead gorgeous back then, but it was just a man and a woman looking, and discovering each other.
He marveled that they had just kept discovering. Hadn’t stopped. He marveled how much they had grown together, how they learned from each other, how they enjoyed what they had learned together. He marveled at how they understood, argued with humor, and agreed to disagree.
She ordered the Saiko Sushi edamé. She loved it. He ate it. She was disappointed when the waitress told him they no longer pan seared the gyoza, and ordered the boiled version. His first taste of gyoza was at another Japanese restaurant thirty years earlier, steamed, he believed. He loved it. He wondered why he had never had it in Japan. He had eaten almost totally Japanese in his extended time in Sasebo back a couple of centuries ago it seemed. A young Japanese beautiful, tiny woman had taken him to dining most Americans never saw. His old commanding officer, Art Wright of the landing ship dock had taken him down to “Sake Town” in Sasebo, Japan, where they had gone to no fancy, just incredibly fresh sushi places. He had lots of things not offered in the U.S. version of Japanese cuisine, but never had gyoza.
Gyoza was another thing they discovered they both loved.
He wondered how many restaurants they had dined since they met. He wondered how they seem to always find something meaningful to talk about, before pausing and admitting to himself he could often get on a role and pontificate to beat the band until he realized that look she had when she was tired of his spiel. He had discovered he could read that body language and shut up.
But this night on the sidewalk at twilight with an opah roll in front of him, it all didn’t matter, at least not in the grand scheme of things, if there was such a thing. They were together. They connected. And they were still discovering.
And that old fashion was really good.