Into the ether

Pub date May 9, 2006
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink


CHEAP EATS My first two girlfriends were boys. My next three were girls. My wife was a crustacean, and it’s hard to tell with crustaceans. Crawdad and I have been divorced now for closer to two years than one, and I’m starting to get to be about ready to squeeze someone, maybe. Question is: procedure. I’m in a funny position, and I talk about it, and my friends say, "Online dating. Online dating."

In the world, there are not a lot of people lining up to date chicken farmers of ambiguous gender and weirdo ways. There are some people, but not a lot of people. There are five people. And probably in general they are not hanging out at my new favorite restaurant, or haunting Bay Area scrap yards and baseball fields. No, they’re at home in front of their computers, online, looking for love. Cool. Because while the world is beautiful, exciting, fun, unpredictable, unimaginably immense, and inspiringly odd, the Internet allows you to type in exactly what you’re looking for.


Of course, the big huge question on everyone’s mind right now, online and off, is: Well? But which kind is the Chicken Farmer going to go for? M. Male, I think, probably, this time. But it’s been a while, and I’m scared. So a man with a small penis. And a sense of humor. And, since I may as well shoot myself in the other foot too while I’m at it, a 1990 Ford F-150 pickup truck, lime green. Oh, and an open mind.

I see the wisdom in online dating. I do. You can’t pack all this information into the creases on your forehead, or what color shirt you wear, or the world’s best pickup line. Even if you manage a long conversation, there are some things you’re not going to be able to say unless you drink a real lot, and then you run the risk of not being understood or, worse, wetting your pants.

In print you can be very clear. You can be sober. You can know exactly who you are and exactly what you want, and, in exact American English, you can spell it out: "B W MTF TG CF seeks M w/SP (or F w/SSOD) for F, F, and maybe F. No V!" … where V = vegetarians.

This column will appear on the World Wide Web along with a valid e-mail address that I will no doubt have to change soon due to a deluge of four or five offers. There. I am officially online dating. But I still don’t have a cell phone. Does this make me eccentric?

(Oh, btw, F = fried.)

How about if I start hanging out all the time at Café International, my new favorite coffeehouse in my new favorite neighborhood, the Lower Haight? I went there on Saturday afternoon to see my new favorite band, the Mercury Dimes. Earl Butter (of my new favorite band, the Buckets), was with me, and we ran into Mike and Tom from my new favorite band, the Shut-Ins. What a place!

Earl ordered a Turkish coffee, and the Chicken Farmer ordered a chicken turnover with salad. The Mercury Dimes were taking a break. Then they started to play again, and they were my new favorite band. Old-time music. Two fiddles, banjo, guitar, bass, no mics. And when they sing, they just all belt it out together.

I’m not a music reviewer, but the chicken turnover was great. It was perfectly turned over, and the salad had grapes on top of it, and olives with the pits still in them, and all kinds of other stuff. Nice, big salad. I forget what it costed. Probably exactly what you’d expect it to cost. Otherwise: sandwiches, bagels, soup, Middle Eastern things, a Cuban thing, um, international things. Eclectic, good, friendly, artsy. Reminds me of the Mission District’s beloved Atlas Café (only friendlier) and not necessarily because that’s where I’ve usually seen the Mercury Dimes. The layout’s very similar, counter to your left, music all the way back. Then beyond that there’s an outdoor patio.

And lots of very beautiful, cool-looking, real live people hang out there, just like at the Atlas, having coffee, reading newspapers, and thinking about sex or sports, probably for all I know wondering where their next eggs are going to come from. But what’s a chicken farmer supposed to do? Talk to them?

No lie. This is the truth: I have laryngitis right now, but I’ll be back. Meanwhile, imagine me on a gorgeous day like today, in front of my computer, eating lemons and drinking tea. SFBG

Café International.

Sat.–Thurs., 8 a.m.–9 p.m.; Fri., 8 a.m.–midnight

508 Haight, SF

(415) 552-7390.

Takeout and delivery available

Beer and wine

Credit cards not accepted


Wheelchair accessible