Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sunday in the Sunset

Traffic was light on Sunday afternoon as we headed to the Sunset District, just south of Golden Gate Park. One of my wife’s favorite hairdressers had opened a shop on Irving; the tresses were getting long, and it was time to give it a whorl. The shop was located in a mixed neighborhood east of 19th Avenue (Hwy 1), the main north-south parkway that connects Hwy 280 to the Golden Gate Bridge. The burgeoning Irving Chinatown to the west had not leapt 19th....yet. I give it about six years.

Mei Ling was scurrying among three customers when we entered the shop. She asked us to return in half an hour. Enough time to grab a bite.

We walked into Peasant Pies and looked at the pies in the display. Their thick crust and rich filling seemed at odds with the low-fat, low-cholesterol, and low-calorie information posted on the wall. The pies were made by a special process learned in France, and look how thin the French are.

As Groucho said, who do you believe, me or your own eyes? We decided to believe Peasant Pies. Besides, they had young urban professional customers who were reading the Sunday Times. They wouldn’t have been fooled.

I ordered beef, while my companion ordered sweet potato pie. They were delicious and filling, as advertised. I made the mistake of looking at the desserts. Blueberries on chocolate flan---never had that before, lots of antioxidants, less than $3, and who knows when I’m coming back. Rationalization, thy name is man.

We crossed the street to Mei Ling’s, who now had three different customers waiting. I was given a grocery shopping list and instructed to come back in an hour. One block away was Andronico’s, a Bay Area chain that began in Berkeley. The goods were pricey, eclectic, and organic, Whole Foods without the big box. Perfect for a San Francisco neighborhood.

I spotted Ed in the wine section. He’s a retired executive who pulled our chestnuts out of the fire on a couple of occasions. He’s well into his sixties, looks 40, and travels the world with his wife, stopping occasionally at their Pacific Heights home. I never wanted any one else’s life, but it wouldn’t be bad to have his.

Groceries in hand, I returned for the third time to the hairdresser. My wife arose from the chair. “How do I look?”

I peered at her hair, then her expression, looking for clues. It looks good. The universal default response.

“I’m disappointed. She was rushing.”

No, it really looks o.k. [But what do I know.] Maybe you ought to see her on a weekday when she's less busy.

The guy reaction—offering a solution instead of sympathy. I’ve tried sympathy in the past, by the way, but it sounds phony. Women have the knack of melding words with tone and facial expressions so that the message sounds convincing. I speak that language with a halting accent, so I don’t even try.

We got in the car and tooled home from the Sunset with take-home Peasant Pies and groceries from Andronico’s. There would just be enough time for a late-afternoon nap. Bet that’s what Ed is doing. © 2007 Stephen Yuen

Creepy statue: "When you’re a little older I’ll tell the secret ingredient in my pie."

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