CHEAP EATS There’s only one thing in my refrigerator, and nothing at all in the nest. It’s come to this, then: two chickens left, and one of them has developed a taste for eggs.
Two weeks ago today when I flapped my wings (venison lasagna + Ativan = liftoff, plus or minus an airplane ticket), I never felt more like I needed a vacation from my life. And yesterday evening, upon touching down again at SFO, I burst into tears, grateful to be not only alive on Earth, but alive in my exact life. And dying to see Sockywonk and Weirdo the Cat and my newest and littlest love, Z.Z. de la Cooter.
Z.Z. being 15 years and 11 months away from a driver’s license, and Weirdo the Cat being a cat, Sockywonk was the one who I called, from a pay phone, as soon as I stepped off the plane.
"I’ll be right there," she said.
I got my luggage and went outside into California and waited, blinking, my mascara smeared and swirly. My neighbor from the plane walked past – an older-man businessmanperson who had stared at spreadsheets on his laptop next to me as intently as I’d been staring at pictures of little Z.Z. on mine, trying to beat back the panic with incessant cuteness.
We hadn’t exchanged more than four words on the plane – "excuse me" and "thank you" – but now he gave me a warm, almost intimate smile. I smiled back. For all I know, he has a fear of flying too.
The Wonk was in a bit of a postsurgical state still, it turned out, and I was more on drugs than she was. Plus starving. So she could hardly even talk, she was so busy being such a good driver, and it was all I could do to sit up straight, with my hand in her head of half-inch hair growth, and sort of slobber.
What I’m getting at is that last night, at any rate, the two dogs in the backseat would have been more qualified than either of us to choose a restaurant.
Me and Sockywonk, it so happens, are two of the last four people on the planet without cell phones, or else we might have maybe thought to call someone for help. It’s easy enough to think that now, fed, slept, and caffeinated. But yesterday . . .
And anyway my brother Phenomenon, my own go-to one-phone-call bastion of all-around competency, was unreachably out of the country.
Innit funny, though, how notorious goofs like me and Socky tend to have siblings whose specialty it is to take care of bidness? Just fucking get the job done? For lack of any better ideas, the Wonk drove us to her house and parked. When we went inside, I kid you not, at 8, 8:30 in the evening, her visiting sis from Florida, Sisterwonk, was under the sink in the kitchen, hammering. On her visit so far she’d already tiled the kitchen floor, which had looked more like a garage than an apartment, as I recall, rigged a new light over the dining room table, and painted the walls a cheerful yellow.
I knew immediately that, dinnerwise, we were in good hands. Sure enough: "Why don’t you get a burrito?" she suggested, without even scratching her head.
You’d have thought that we’d have thought of that, being the San Franciscans.
"Mexicana’s good," Sisterwonk said, anticipating my next question.
I looked at Socky, who had already found parking, and she nodded. "It’s right around the corner," she said. Less than two blocks. As easy a walk as two junkied goofs have ever had to walk. And just like that I had a new favorite taqueria.
Mexicana! Who knew? They steam their tortillas, but the chips are good, and the salsa’s good, and I can vouch for the spicy chipotle chicken burrito, about a third of which is the one thing in my refrigerator right now.
Probably I could have knocked it off last night. But I think instinctively I knew, deep down below the Ativan, how sad it would be to come home to an empty refrigerator.
For lunch I’m going to make me one big pan-spun homemade flour tortilla, and I’m going to chop up and reheat last night’s burrito, wrapper and all. As far as I know, it will be the world’s first ever burrito butt burrito. And I can’t tell you how happy I am about that. *
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