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22 May 2006
Hurricane Lemrel blew into town today. Her name isn't really "Lemrel" but she's dyslexic and this is a variant of her name...I'm not really sure when it stuck as a pseudonym for her, but I usually think of her as "Lemrel."
Lemrel just retired from a career teaching in the ghetto schools of Los Angeles, a much-awarded teacher (recently awarded "teacher of the year"), and let me know that she was flying to Sacramento for a conference. She asked if she could spend some time with me, and could I drive her to San Francisco to visit with her son, and then back to the airport again the next day.
Spending time with Lemrel is always an experience.
It had been six years, I think, since we last saw each other. In the interim she has dyed her hair orange and sports orange nail polish. We've also both added pounds since we were last together.
She said she's had a hell of a couple of weeks, ending the school year, getting tests ready, and the multitude of things that go along with the various committees of which she is a part. We started to get caught up on each other's lives, but in no time she was sound asleep and slept most of the way to the Bay Area (because my life is so exciting in the telling, you know!)
We stopped in Emeryville so she could get some caffeine pumped into her bloodstream. We stopped at the first cafe I saw, which turned out to be "Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe."
It was a fairly normal looking place, with chairs outside an in, so Lemrel could have a cigarette before we got back in the car. I found out later that the location is near Pixar Studios and that Mike Dirnt, bassist for Green Day, is supposedly one of the owners. (I wouldn't have known him if he'd sat down and chatted with us...and I have only barely heard of Green Day.)
Inside was definitely no Denny's, but a combination of classic diner mixed with punk hangout. There was loud music playing and a guy sat nearby with shocking blue hair. The wait staff all seemed to be liberally tattooed and pierced.
But the coffee was from Peet's, so that made it automatically OK in our book. We also ordered one order of onion rings to share and they were perhaps the best onion rings I've ever had. I chose to skip the "Shakin Jesse," which is Guinness, espresso and chocolate ice cream all whipped together into a milk shake.
Next we stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up dessert to take to dinner at Lemrel's son's apartment. She was also shopping for "treats" to send to her daughter, who has just moved to Surinam for several months, to study the habits of capuchin monkeys. We bought enough terriyaki flavored beef jerkey and fruit leather to keep her going for the next few weeks.
Unfortunately, this little "side trip" of ours proved to have been a terrible mistake. We got back on the freeway and discovered that it was bumper-to-bumper traffic getting onto the bridge. It took us a good half hour to reach the toll plaza, during which time Lemrel spoke with her son a couple of times and it was decided that the five people waiting for us would go ahead and eat dinner and we would have something reheated when we finally arrived.
Also, unfortunately, Macc lives in an area of the city (well--that's pretty much any area of the city!) where it is absolutely impossible to park. I finally let Lemrel out and told her I'd be back when I found someplace to park. I had been doing a lot of grumbling and complaining to my parking angel, Gilbert about how he's falling down on the job after 20 years of finding me parking places. I was getting so frustrated that I grumbled that if he was going to start being so unhelpful maybe I would just skip our annual "Gilbert dinner" this year. So there.
Just then, a guy right in front of me got into his car and started the motor. It was only 25 minutes and 3 phone calls since I'd dropped Lemrel off at Macc's, but there it was: a real parking place. I gave a whoop and a holler, grabbed the spot, and apologized to Gilbert for threatening him into finding me a place to park.
We had a lovely rest-of-the-evening visiting with Macc, the married couple he's living with and their two under-the-weather children, and the mother of one of the couple. We stayed until 10:30--long enough to have our reheated dinner and some of the cheesecake Lemrel had bought, which had finally thawed.
Then it was the hour and a half drive back to Davis and time to collapse before we start the next day.
Actually, like many of the hurricanes that we see discussed on the news, Hurricane Lemrel didn't pack as much of a punch as anticipated, but still made an impact and is expected to stick around for another day.
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