December 22nd, 2013
A week ago I was in a very good mood (spoiler alert: I still am). I’d invited my kids to show up at the bar where the post-improv gang hangs out. Yeah, they showed. They had a great time, too. Max, now 24, had done improv seven or eight years ago with a different group that had five or six of today’s players. Renee, 18, played with a different selection of this gang. They were both damn good improvisers, but Max plays music with a band these days, and his sister is in the UCLA theater program — which I hope, at some point, will throttle her with some more improv.
We hung out, making nuisances of ourselves to the Silver Cloud’s crowd for two hours, then we (just Max, Renee, and myself) headed off to dinner. Through the insane traffic, we somehow ended up at Perry’s. As soon as we pulled into the parking garage adjacent to Perry’s we saw the list of parking charges — $2.50 for each 15 minutes. Renee quickly backed around the car pressing up behind us and soon we were free out on Union street. No way was I going to be able to enjoy a leisurely dinner with a time clock wound that tight.
We found parking on the street a couple blocks up. Good thing I had my handicapped parking pass with me. No cost to me and no danger of timing out, either. San Francisco treats cripples right. Our luck held as we walked up to the host’s stand at Perry’s. A table just broke (not the splintery kind of a break, the opening up for another group of diners — i.e. Renee, Max, and me).
We ordered. Max wanted a cocktail. An Irish Coffee, which this non-drinking alcoholic considers to be — well, let me bow out of the booze debate, I’m just glad my son is not a heavy drinker (I wish only to thank the hand my son was dealt regarding the way our bodies process alcohol).
Renee ordered a hamburger, medium rare. There is a shade of pink which can be measured on the colorimeter. Medium rare at Perry’s always comes within .006247 — that is six one thousandth of a grannum. No hamburger anywhere can match that. Juiciness and taste are consistent with the measurement, as well. Max chose a sandwich that cannot be measured yet. Pulled Pork. Oddly enough, Eskimos are the best judges of pork. There is no lexicon for pork perfection, but part of the New Years fun is the Pork Poke, in which a team of Eskimo men and women walk on an inch of hot pork, just pulled from the fire.
Pork holds heat
Better than any meat,
Be it hooved, clawed, or shod.
Pork can be gnawed
Off’n any bone, by God,
So step right up and chew
Until your forehead turns blue,
And the number of your fingers,
As you count them kinda lingers
And your eyes then just fall closed and you nod.
Needless to say, my son wants to keep going back to Perry’s for the pork. Myself, I love the Club Sandwich. I ate only half, but finished it off the next morning. I’m not a leftover kinda guy (there’s a song in that!) but oooooh, the turkey, the bacon, the tomato, the sourdough, the toothpick.
Dessert! Imagine you’ve never believed in God for all your years and a storm comes in. Your brother goes out in the yard with a loaded shotgun. He kills a rattlesnake. He kills a salamander. Then a bison charges him and he shoots, but misses. Fortunately, bison are extinct and your brother survives. The Apple Brown Betty is like that. Confusing, but deliriously satisfying. He shoots again. This time there is blood all over his shirt. But there are no dead creatures in the yard. You promise yourself to look into this God business, but you are not able to keep your promise due to the shortage of Bibles. Then you learn that the stories in the bible are just that. Stories. You can believe them if you want, but there’s no law that says you have to. You go back to your yard with a shotgun and shoot a small tree. It takes fifteen blows to cut it entirely in two. But now you know that you can win this game. And you do. Time after time, the Apple Brown Betty survives.
Put yourself in the place of the man with the shotgun. You’ve got fifteen shots. Look, the Apple Brown Betty is laughing. Is she laughing at you? At the sourdough bread? Or the colorimeter. You can never know.
That is the mystery of the colorimeter.