I could mull over the paradox that is “America’s Finest City,” or what I lovingly refer to as Paradise:
palm trees and NIMBY pettiness;
temperate climes and a questionable, tenacious city attorney;
luxury housing and chronic homelessness; or
cutting edge schools and an on-going disparity in achievement between African American and Latino students, and Caucasian and Asian students.
But I’d rather not. Well, not today, anyway.
It was the MS’s (Middle Son) birthday yesterday, and at his request, we moseyed on over to Joe’s Crab Shack to sit upstairs, squint and sweat in the setting sunlight, eat, drink, and listen to The MS’s good friend talk about techniques for meeting women. It seems he’s purchased quite a number of products on eBay on the subject and is very close to being a poster child of sorts, soon to hit the road and profess his new found wisdom. The MoH was enthralled, but only long enough to ask about the young man’s success rate.Â Mmmm….numbers.
The RT remained mortified throughout the meal, especially since the MS’s friend directed a good bit of his commentary toward the RT, and encouraged him to “take notes,” because if he’d known at 15 what he knows today…well. The RT? A kid who couldn’t bring himself to walk down the “pink aisle” in Toys R Us when he was little? Uh, no. No note taking on the “how to snare women” lecture.Â But graciously, the MS’s friend shifted his tutelage to that of something more closely related to the RT’s interests:Â war games.
Before long, the two were discussing a way to profit from purchasing models, painting them, and then selling them.Â Of course, with some financial padding from D-A-D to really get things going.Â Great.Â Headlines on Yahoo read:Â “Teen makes fortune in garage.Â You, too, can have a home-based business…”
But the MS was quiet — a rarity. He’s already familiar with his friend’s good-natured schtick, but still. It was his birthday and he’s been making his presence known verbally since he was born, earning him the nickname, “Cryin’ Ryan.” No, he’s never been a whiner.Â Quite the opposite. He is much more quiet in his utterances now, but he always has something to say, always. Information, information, information.Â So I found myself wondering whether he regretted inviting his friend, whom we all have known since the two were in junior high, and have enjoyed. Who knows.
Maybe he was mulling over being yet another year older. Uh, what about me, here?Â Or rethinking Joe’s. They have been known to circle the table to howl a birthday ditty while urging the guest of honor to gallop around the restaurant, straddling a child’s pony on a stick. Really. Or, he could have been lamenting the lack of a Birthday Check at that point in the evening, which did surface later.
The birthday “cake?” (I had the peaches, okay? And those are blueberries, not raisins, so unscrew your nose. Besides, it’s not your “cake.”)
Aren’t you glad you’re not one of my offspring? It takes work to keep them humble, but they keep coming back for more.
We finished our dinner and beverage-ez right at the 7PM tourismo hour, walked across the street to the beach and headed toward Crystal Pier to enjoy the sunset. Various and assorted “night folk” were already gathering, others settling in for the night with blankets, bags full of worldly possessions, and a ragged novel in hand to squint at in the waning light. Welcome to my bedroom…Only one less than cogent fellow verbally accosted us, yelling something none of us could quite understand. But we weren’t special, because he seemed not to discriminate in his quest to let people know he was there. Yelling. And trying to get into the restroom, which was locked. So add that to my list above:
Blazing sunsets and incoherent drifters.
Yes, you might be able to see just why Paradise is a veritable paradox — a place where you never actually have to stick your head in the sand to be a card-carrying member of the “not my problem” club.
I’m surrounded by them.
But you won’t ever find me whining in the men’s room.