The problem of happiness

Pub date November 11, 2009
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink

CHEAP EATS Sometimes it just takes one word, and this week’s one is shoehorn. There. I’m done. And you barely even got your pants down, or your skirt up. Skype is an amazing thing, as is technology in general. As are words.

Yesterday morning, outside a coffeehouse in Guerneville …

Today, inside a coffeehouse in Oakland …

One night I put my laptop on the pillow next to me and slept while she went about her business.

It’s weird (or maybe not) that many of the men who mistreated, malpracticed, or underwhelmed me last year are trying to reconnect right now. Proving once again that straight guys just love a lesbian. Had I thought of this, I would have faked it.

Can I tell you how much pleasure I get from not doing anything at all? Well, I do read their e-mails. After months and months of silence, they suddenly can’t stop thinking about me, they’re sorry they blew it, blah blah blah. And I don’t write back, not even to say, Thank you for blowing it. I met someone a lot better than you.

And a lot better for me. Last month in Joshua Tree she taught me how to be more ladylike. Instead of saying, "I gotta go pee," I can now say, in German, Ich muss mich frischmachen, or roughly, "I have to freshen up" … which is really fun to say before going behind a cactus and squatting over some dirt, then wiping your hands on your jeans.

In New Jersey last week I returned the favor. I taught her how to put gas in a car. She’s never owned a car in her life, but loves to be the driver, and loves to do all the more classically manlier things, like getting the gas. So I showed her how. While the pump was pumping we stood straddling the hose (not really) and kissed real slow and long (really). I forgot where I was.

When the kiss was over, I looked away and accidentally into the wide eyes of a man filling his pickup truck next pump over. His mouth was a little bit open — more from pain, I think, than disbelief. I smiled. He didn’t. His hands were in his pockets.

It’s fun outside of the Bay Area, but good to be back too. This morning I had breakfast at Sconehenge with my friend Hickymajig, and we had a contest to see who was nervouser. She won. But I did not go down without a tremor. And a twitch. And a lightheaded feeling in my legs. And a fluttery stomach, cold sweat, shaky hands, and other more serious symptoms, like I only ate half of my huevos rancheros ($7.50).

The second half is on the floor in my car, fantasizing about lunch. For a restaurant called Sconehenge, Sconehenge has very few things called scones on the menu. But they do have them, and they’re supposed to be great.

But we both ate Mexican breakfasts. Very good. Very very very good. And cheap! And big! My huevos had a huge pile of salsa on top, and a ton of melted cheese. Warm flour tortillas that I slathered with butter, rolled up, and poked into my egg yolks. The rice and beans were delicious. Nevertheless, if Hickymajig reads this it will be from a hospital bed, so I would like her to know that the entire Bay Area, including me, is thinking about her and wishing her well, on buses, in bathrooms, and wherever else Cheap Eats is read. Behind a cactus …

My thing is partly a problem of happiness, which is a good problem to have. My armchair therapists tell me I deserve to be happy, get over it. And I’m trying, I swear. I breathe, I read, I write, I laugh. But my body continues to act as if it’s about to get run over by a minivan.

Maybe I drink too much coffee. And that’s another good thing about Sconehenge. Their coffee sucks. You can only drink one cup, if you’re lucky.

I told you this column was over after the first sentence. So if you made it this far, don’t blame me. It’s nighttime already where my heart is. And here I haven’t even gone to work yet! Kids need me. Their moms, more so. Oy.

Or, take my word for it: schuhlöffel.


Mon.–Sat., 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m.;

Sun., 8 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

2787 Shattuck, Berk.

(510) 845-5168

No alcohol


L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.