Darkness and light......
Monday Night was glorious.....from a food standpoint. Brendan was back. In tribute, our crew rallied behind him and knocked it out of the park....
And then the guests failed us.
As they had all weekend.
The Rich Surgeon left 12% after being a whiny dick....and grabbing the microphone and subjecting everyone to old frat boy rock-and-roll before leaving. Meanwhile, his cool, beautiful wife slipped me a C-note for the Cachagua Volunteers.
Moral dilemma: stiff the Volunteers to take care of the girls?
No.....a douche bag is a douche bag. Gotta pity the poor wife, and we love the Volunteers. They get the C-note.
A guy who owns a winery up the Road and three restaurants in Carmel left exactly 14% on a table of ten. Everyone else at the table was cooler than he.....and tips way better. Every restaurant in the world adds a fixed gratuity to tables of more than six...including his...but we decided to trust him as a fellow restaurant guy. The bill for his table in his own restaurant would have been approximately triple our fees......and anything less than 20% on the triple would have him hamstrung on the way out by his crew. We love his family.....actually everyone BUT him......so fuck him, anyway. I feel more sorry for his poor family than I do our girls. They only had to deal with the douche bag for one night. How do you say "douche bag" in Belgian, anyway?
This all led to a nice late night dinner with our bunch.....some nice wines......a big wind down with a lot of soul searching.......
And a long discussion of Mickey Finn's.
In New York in the old days there were basically two styles of mickeys: the Italians and the French.
The Italians, at the Copacabana on 60th Street around the corner from us at The Colony on Madison and 61st went in for chloral hydrate. Chloral hydrate would drop you in your tracks....the douche bag would take a sip or two of his mickeyed drink and drop like the sack of shit that he had proved himself to be.
The bouncers would be waiting and grab the guy after his face-plant, drag him out the front door, and toss him out onto 60th Street. Fuck you.
Meanwhile, these bouncers/doormen were large enforcement types, and obviously packing serious heat, despite the expensive tailoring. The Copa clientele got both a little rush from their attentions, and a sense of security.
The French style was different. We preferred to avoid confrontation......so you got a dose of extremely strong veterinary laxative. French tailoring...and smaller automatics.
The douche bag would have a few sips of his mickeyed drink, and continue to embarrass himself.....until he felt the overwhelming urge, and would sprint for the gent's. At which point, a gauntlet of pissed off workers would be waiting for him just outside the men's room. The maitre d'hotel would stop the guy, brush his lapels, button the buttons of his jacket, pat him on the shoulder in passing......and then jerk the jacket down over his shoulders, imprisoning his arms.
The crew would then take over. Smack, smack. Bundle the guy up and out the back door into the dumpster. Fuck you.
The nice part about the French method was that it was out of sight of the guests, did not involve actual weaponry.....and by the time the mook dragged himself out of the dumpster he had usually shit himself so there was no more confrontation.
I gotta talk to our mobile vet about some medication.
It would be perfect for the Surgeon Guy from last night......since he now runs a weight loss clinic.
Physician heal thyself.
Anyway, the after-work buzz took us until 2:30 am. Wakeup is at 6:30.....and Tuesday means trash, re-cycle and compost duty. On four hours' sleep.
I was so looking forward to a nap this afternoon.....but there was Puppy. He was already wearing a collar, but he went and found his backup collar and brought it to me. He pulled my compost jeans out of the wash and brought them to me. He ran down to the garage and got my compost boots and brought them up. Then he started barking and biting.....and dragging my office chair towards the door. Puppy wanted to go for a hike.
So, dammit.....I went. After 90 hours in five days on my feet....let's go for a hike. What could be better?
In protest, I went in my pyjamas and a pair of Croc's.
It takes about five minutes to climb a couple of hundred feet out our back door....even in pyjamas and Croc's.
The Old Dog and I climbed slowly....in protest. Morgana is still on point, though....despite her age. She is famous for once having brought home a human hand from a hike. She had found a plane crash that had escaped Search and Rescue......and was very proud of her trophy. When we do our Tuesday afternoon protest hikes with Puppy, she drags her old bones up the hill....always staying uphill and upwind of me, to protect me from lions. So far it is working.
Puppy meanwhile was ripping through the woods like a ghost. He moved so fast that Morgana and I were fully amused. A feeling like "joy" hit me......like I felt on Carmel Beach on Saturday when I simultaneously nailed seven last minute dishes for fifty people for an old friend.....with only a broken Weber and a broken propane stove for help. This joy required no effort......just watching a free spirit ripping unrestrained through the woods at high speed......just for the pure joy of being able to rip through the woods at high speed.
Morgana and I poked along, pretending to hike. Despite our weak efforts, we came to a place where a big oak had fallen last year and left a hole in the oak envelope. A glimpse off to the north changed my whole week.
Our property is on the shady side of Carmel Valley. The sun goes away at 3pm, even in the summer. The north facing side is sun-blasted until late. The Valley walls are steep, and in a very few feet of climbing your whole perspective changes radically.
Once again, the difference in perspective of our cool, dark, sheltered cove in the oaks vs. the sunblasted northside hills was stunning.
Georgia O'Keefe was back. The hills marching above Rancho Chupinos defy comprehension in my little world. Are they folding....or unfolding? Standing there in the midst of the poison oak and looking north I get the same feeling I get gazing upwards in a great cathedral in Italy or Spain. I can't quite absorb the perspective.....I can't quite make the distance of time an space ....and the effort required to create this thing of beauty into something I can grasp.
Both Amanda and I have made the rookie error of trying to climb Mt. Toro and the hills above Rancho Chupinos on foot. It seems so close, and so accessible. Right. Hours later, after the moon has risen and fallen, and you are out of water and completely exhausted.....and you have not even managed the first wrinkle in the Georgia O'Keefe serape....and a different kind of respect dawns. "You mere mortals cannot walk this land."
Each year Amanda and I scrimp and save to desperately escape California and spend a month in Spain in the mountains by the Northern Coast. We don't go to movies, we don't eat out....we don't even rent movies. I realize that we are not seeking to escape the Country....we are getting away from the country.
Today I was trying to figure out why. People from Spain should fly here to hike my mountain and experience the view of Rancho Chupinos in Summer....or Spring.....or dead Winter, for that matter.
Plus, there is something about looking from shade into sunlight......experiencing beauty at a distance.
It is not coincidental that we came back down the mountain from our hike in time to listen and watch Hillary Clinton's speech at the Democratic Convention.
I have not been of fan of Hillary.....but for me she brought all the chickens home to roost. For eight years.....actually more like 28 years.....we have all been standing in the shade, admiring that golden vision of beauty from afar. And, believe me....we are all at least a couple of days hike with no water from experiencing any of it.
America used to be a vision of joy and possibilities, and limitless potential....that real people could actually grasp in real time.
America has become a venal, crude, wasteful, cynical caricature of a failed state in the last eight years.
Listening to Hillary speak I had the exact same emotions that I had looking out at Rancho Chupinos.......I can barely appreciate the beauty of her vision, because it is so far away.......
And right in front of us......is something we can almost grasp.
Or I will sic my dog on you for a play-date.