At a 30-year old, no-reservations restaurant called the Sea Chest (best described as nautically kitschy in a retro sort of a way) in Cambria, people waiting for tables gather around a fire pit to drink, listen for their names to be called and chat up strangers while overlooking the Pacific.
All good and thoroughly enjoyable, but imagine my surprise when I get a friend request today from one of the Californians I met there.
And we should be friends on Facebook because...?
Of the many reasons that the Hearst Castle impresses me - the ocean views, the Renaissance ceilings, the over-stuffed Moroccan armchairs - none top the pale blue satin bedspread with ecru lace on one of the beds.
When I comment to the guide that it reminds me of a glamorous '30s bias-cut dressing gown, she says it was sewn by Hearst's mistress, Marion Davies.
You know, back in the good old days, when a Hollywood star/real estate investor (Marion once loaned Hearst a cool million when his finances looked grim) was not only good in bed, but a fine seamstress, too.
We sure don't raise 'em like we used to.
As a side note, I'm thinking of putting my sewing skills to use to whip up my own negligee bedspread in homage and because it was gorgeously feminine and utterly unique.
In Carmel Valley, the guy pouring the wine at Bernardus Winery turns out to be from the same county where I grew up (I recognize the name of his high school) and both our first concerts were at the same 20,000-seat venue.
You can only imagine the conversations from there on.
New Year's Eve on Cannery Row with a pianist named Danny - wearing a sequined shirt and playing a range from Prince to Van Morrison - closes out a turning point year for me, plugging the hole in the bow of life to right the boat, making the prospect of 2017 wildly appealing.
This pleases me no end.
After breakfast at the Giant Artichoke Restaurant (yes, there's a giant artichoke sculpture? growth? attached to the front of the building), Sunday is a travel day involving leaving San Francisco just after noon and walking into my apartment not long before 1 a.m.
The upside is all the reading I get to do, meaning I finish my Christmas gift of "Truevine" and begin plowing through "Jack and Jackie: Portrait of a Marriage," not just for its abundance of dirt about JFK's dalliances (Audrey Hepburn and Zsa Zsa Gabor were news to me), but for its historical asides as well.
Like when LBJ tells Clare Boothe Luce (look her up, kids) why he accepted the far-from-desirable vice presidency.
I looked it up. One out of every four presidents has died in office. I'm a gamblin' man, darlin', and this is the only chance I got.
Now, why wasn't that taught in history class?
Today was about getting back in the groove (as CW reminded me, we all gotta work), so walking to the river in the rain, grocery shopping, writing and saying yes to requests for my time this week.
2016 go out with a bang? My week turned out to be better than I thought it would be - fun! I am really looking forward to getting started on 2017...lots to do! What does your week look like?
It looked like my first opportunity to compare vacation stories (his was in Florida), see a movie that's making everyone's best of list and keep Garnett's open past closing time.
Just another Monday night, in other words.
The only problem with seeing a mainstream movie is the pain of having to sit through endless TV commercials for products I don't care about and then trailers for movies you couldn't pay me to see.
Honestly, I can't quite conceive of why anyone would want to see an effects-laden propaganda film about the Boston Marathon bombing.
Pointing out that I usually avoid such crap by sticking to art or indie films, my date wastes no time in reminding me that this movie had been my idea so the bad prologue was on my shoulders.
Hard to argue with the truth.
Luckily the two were unrelated and "La La Land" both lived up to the critics' raves and never let the viewer forget that love through the lens of classic Hollywood musicals is unimaginable these days and must be replaced with a decidedly millennial take on, well, everything.
And by that I mean, this is a musical where a girl in a car remembers to unbuckle her seatbelt (because of course she's wearing one, like all good millennials) before springing from the car to dance on the freeway and on top of nearby car rooves.
Where a parking valet has to sort through 20 sets of keys when a customer says they have a silver Prius. Where the heroine constantly flips her hair and trades heels for comfortable flats (causing Ginger Rogers to turn over in her grave) when it's time to dance.
But most importantly, where love does not work out happy ending Hollywood-style, but the song and dance sequences that get us there are so postcard vivid, the costumes so complementary in color, and the chemistry of our tap dancing hero and heroine so palpable that such a small matter as happily ever after seems unimportant.
I've long said that a world view that encompassed peace, love and optimism was replaced with one comprising irony, androgyny and fatalism some time during the Reagan administration, right around the time his administration made ketchup a vegetable in school lunches.
It's pretty strange that we keep running into each other
Maybe it means something.
I doubt it.
Yea, I didn't think so.
That said, "La La Land's" retro feel made it easy to settle in and let blue skies and palm trees carry me away to scenes of sexual hand-holding, witty romantic banter and dancing in the heavens.
Afterwards at Garnett's having drinks and dessert, my companion cops to not being a dessert eater despite polishing off chocolate chess pie. I admit that I rarely see a mainstream movie. Maybe it means something.
But our hero says it best: "This is the dream! It's conflict and it's compromise and it's very, very exciting!"