Five days to celebrate my birthday? Are you freakin’ kiding me? Well, that was just what happened. Five things made the past five days worth the while…
1. Bingo Night- Pops has his own opinion of earning your Red Wings.
It is an bi-annual tradition for my friends and I. We go up to Trinidad to the casino to play Bingo for our birthdays. JJ and I have birthdays at the end of October, while Pops and Pat have theirs near the middle of July. So with free birthday buy-ins (mostly free), this offers us a chance to sit around for several hours and try to win. It is just nice to sit around and chat. A chance to catch up, and catch the next funny moment. Thursday, October 28th, was our day to hit the Bingo Hall.
It was on Thursday when Pat confessed to JJ and his lady friend that he had only recently learned what it meant to “Earn your Red Wings”. Now I am not sure, nor do I want to be sure how Pat was educated on this, but his confession brought immediate disbelief to JJ and his lady. Now I chimed in with my own double take. I had to ask Pat again if he was being serious, or was he trying to pull a fast one on the wile JJ. Our beloved Pops, who by his own admission is hard of hearing, caught the last part of my question to Pat about Red Wings.
So Pops deadpans, “Red Wings, those are boots!”
His serious as a heart attack response brought a chorus of laughter from us at the table. I am happy we were seated by tolerant bingo trolls who allowed us to cut loose. Poor Pops had to be brought up to speed on what we were actually talking about. He turned his usual red faced, and reminded us in a stern voice that he was in fact hard of hearing.
2. San Francisco- A glimpse of one possible heaven, and a documentary that had me near tears.
Hey what are you doing Saturday? Winnebago Man is playing in the City (San Francisco), and the Brazilian Steakhouse is there. Why the hell not?
Mr. Pat and I left Eureka at 6:30 am on highway 101. Three and one half hours later, we picked up an Italian man who was sporting a beard to envy. We dropped the car in Oakland, and took the train into San Francisco for a day we never could have expected.
Pat, Italiano, and I walked up Market street looking for a steakhouse we had only seen images of on a website. When we arrived that the intersection of Market and Haight streets, we nearly walked right by Espetus. I only had anecdotal stories of what to expect. What I did not anticipate was a brush with heaven.
Once the three of us were seated we were cut loose to cruise the salad and side bar. Once we were back in our seats, a parade of servers began bringing choice cuts of grilled meats to our table asking us if we wanted a slice. Top Sirloin, Grilled Shrimp, sausage, bacon wrapped chicken breast, pork tenderloin, flank steak, beef ribs, chicken hearts, lamb, and grilled pineapple. The parade never ended, unless we turned our sign from green to red. I never made it back to the salad/side bar to get another ground beef crepe (TOO DIE FOR!). Each time I thought I would get up to go, a server would bring out another selection of meat. The three of us were so overwhelmed that words escaped us. Everything they brought us was tantalizing, and some meats were prepared better than other. I never had sirloin as succulent and tender as was served at the steakhouse. The three if us ate way too much, but we had a walk to make.
As we stumbled out of Espetus, we made our way up Haight ST. to the Red Vic Movie House. As we made our way through the Haight, we saw so lots of people costume shopping at the local stores. We could not help but notice the city consumed with the Giants. After nearly 20 blocks, we found the movie house. We went to see Winnebago Man. It was strange to see a movie that was partly filmed in the theater we were watching it in. Despite coming out on DVD on 11/2, it still is playing around the country in theaters. The subject of the film was humiliated when the outtakes of his promotional video shoot for Winnebago were leaked to the public in a massive VHS tape copying trade, and when the outtakes found their way to YouTube. However, the part of the film where he attends a film festival as the guest of honor is touching. He gets to confront the audience he always thought would see him as some angry and crazy old man. Instead he realizes that these people loved him, mostly for making them laugh, but also for having the guts to say whatever the hell came to his mind during a bad day at work. As fan after fan approach him to express their admiration you could not help but feel warm fuzzies for the man who was once called “The angriest man in the world”.
Pat decided to take Italiano and I to St. George’s Hangar One Distillery in Alameda. He bought us a sampler of shots. Italiano and I sampled the entire menu of spirits they had. Only the fact that we had a huge steakhouse meal in our stomachs kept us from getting all shit-faced. Especially after sampling the Absinthe.
It was great to hang out with Italiano, and celebrate our birthdays together (he is a scorpio too!) Pat and I returned to Eureka the same day. We had breakfast plans the next morning.
3. Breakfast at Bear River Casino- A tradition reborn
Less than 24 hours after devouring several pounds of meat, Pat and I joined Pops and JJ for a birthday breakfast on Sunday. We had made this an annual tradition, but the last couple of years we had lost the chance to go. This year we had the Sunday Brunch at Bear River. It was nice to sit with my dear friends and just hang out. We hardly see each other anymore, so this kind of time is very precious. However, two large eating extravaganzas in 24 hours left me in need of a nap. I needed the rest because a sonic onslaught by way of Boise, Idaho was awaiting me at HSU later that night.
4.Built to Spill- Nearly blowing the walls out of the Depot
In the past year I have become a big fan of Built to Spill. I was toying with the idea of seeing them at the Fillmore in San Francisco on Saturday. Instead I waited until Sunday night at the Depot in Arcata. They did not disappoint. They were so loud, but sounded so good. They were the cherry on top of my Halloween birthday. They played to nearly 1 a.m. on Monday morning. As I walked to my car I realized my birthday was officially over. Unofficially, one more surprise awaited later that night.
5. Personalized art for your birthday? How cool is that!
My friends cooked up a scheme that led to an idea that was even better. They commissioned a co-worker of mine to paint a velvet portrait of my all-time favorite comic strip character. People who know me have heard me tell the story of my mother always getting me a birthday cake with Snoopy on it. I have a few pictures of me in a Halloween costume and a birthday cake with that lovable beagle drawn in icing. Recently I have been collecting velvet paintings of Snoopy (I also have one of Charlie Brown looking like an illegal alien). So I was presented one last gift tonight at Dave’s Place in Eureka. As the crowd watched baseball and football, my friends all waited to see my reaction.
I was stunned! Her Snoopy was much more accurate than any other velvet in my collection. Plus! Plus! It is a one of a kind! Words can’t describe how I feel. He is wearing a helmet with that less than masculine looking winking pirate I absolutely love (don’t ask). The football he is holding is the same size as he would have in the comic strip. This lady did her homework, and the painting is immaculate. I can’t wait to get him framed and hang him up.
How could I ever have thought this birthday was just going to bubble under the surface?
Silly Tapperass… happy birthday to you.