Irish pt. XL
By Pete Moss
"I want to go to SF," says Ramona. "I want a rematch with that Dee Redstone."
YoYo and I look at each other. It's a few days after the baby shower where Ramona had a great time. She had a serious conversation with her old 'zine editor, Kat. Since then Ramona has been spending quite a bit of time on FB. Ramona doesn't say what her and Kat were talking about but it's not hard to guess.
"So who else have you found on Facebook?" asks YoYo.
"A few old friends, here and there," says Ramona, evasively.
"Old friends huh?" says YoYo, eyebrow cocked.
"Yeah, you know, just old friends. No biggie," says Ramona.
"Any old friend in particular?"
"Anybody want tea?" says Ramona, getting up.
I go to Pacoima Larry. "Ramona wants a rematch with Dee Redstone," I say.
"She does? That's too bad. Dee says if Ramona wants a rematch..."
"Ramona wants to go to San Francisco," I say.
"She does?!" says Larry.
"That's what she says."
"How on earth did you get her to agree to that?!"
"Good job!" says Larry. "You get a bonus for this. Dee lives in Mill Valley I think. Is that near SF?"
"Right over the Golden Gate bridge," I say.
"This is too perfect," crows Larry. "I'll start making arrangements right away!"
A few days later we board a plane at Lindbergh Field. 50 minutes later we're setting down at SFO. Desiree rented a Cadillac Escalade. We pick it up and drive over to a motel on Bayshore Boulevard. We check in. Pacoima Larry and Desiree have a room. YoYo and I have a room. Ramona has her own room. After we're checked in Ramona wants to go into SF.
"I lived there for almost two years," says Ramona. "But it's been 10 years or more since I was there."
"It's changed," I say.
"I hope so," says Ramona. So we all get in the Escalade and drive up the 101. Ramona wants to check out the Mission. We park the Escalade in a structure on 22nd and stroll over to Mission Street. Ramona finds a cafe she remembers. "This is where Kat and I used to argue over the theme for each issue of 'Girlburger'," says Ramona.
"Girlburger?" says Desiree.
"That was the name of our 'zine."
"You know," says Desiree, "I almost remember that from when I was in middle school. This one girl brought in a copy and we passed it around in the bathroom. Then the vice principal caught us and confiscated it,"
"Oh My God!" exclaims Ramona. "That's exactly how a 'zine is supposed to work!"
"So girlburger? Was that some kind of feminist irony about how women are treated like meat?" says Desiree.
"What do you think?" says Ramona. "As a stripper you have a front row seat for that."
"Everybody gets treated like meat," says Desiree. "As a stripper I'm not the victim. I'm the one in charge. The customers are paying me good money just cause I exist."
"But you're being blatantly objectified which is degrading...."
"Does anybody want to check out the venue where the rematch is going to happen," says Larry, cutting short the potentially endless argument over feminist theory.
We stroll back to the parking place and retrieve the Escalade. "Where the heck is Mission and Persia?" says Larry.
"Well, There's Mission Street. Go down, hang a right, go out Mission 'til you hit Persia," I say.
So we do. It's barely 3 miles but it takes a good 45 minutes, SF traffic being the beast it is.
"Are we still in San Francisco?" says Desiree.
"It doesn't get much more SF than this," says YoYo.
The Excelsior is the neighborhood tech forgot. Empty storefronts, dilapidated Victorians. Jalopies parked at curbs. Neck tatted homeboys. Disorganized markets. Like 1975 never stopped happening. Straight out of Bobs Burgers.
"Is it safe to park the Escalade?" says Larry. We find the address where the match is set to happen.
"Who's our contact?" I say.
Larry hands his phone to Desiree who does some scrolling. "Harvey Wu," she announces.
"You're kidding!" I say.
"That's what it says," says Desiree. "You know him?"
"I might," I say. "Lemme use the phone." I dial the number.
"Harvey's," says a voice on the 1st ring.
"Harvey Wu, is that you?" I say.
The line is silent for a minute. Then I hear, "Is that you Jimmie Toughluck? I never forget that voice."
"Yeah it's me, Harvey. How the hell are you?! I hear you hosting a little event."
"Maybe," says Harvey.
"I'm here with one of the players. We need a place to park."
"Be right out," says Harvey. And just like that we have a space to park in the driveway of a two story pre-quake building.
"Oh...this a nice ride. Don't worry, nobody touch it parked in my drive!" Then Harvey and I do a complicated handshake. "I hear you live in San Diego now," says Harvey.
"FBI got nothing on you, Harv," I say.
"Well, you all, come on in," says Harvey. And he leads us through the front door.
Once upon a time the room we're in was a deli or a lunch counter. But now it's an underground card room.
"How's business?" I say.
"Not so good," says Harvey. "You know they got casino everywhere these days. How a small timer like me supposed to get by?"
"Don't you own about a 40 million dollar real estate portfolio?"
"In San Francisco that's 2 old buildings and a parking lot," says Harvey. "Parking lot only has 4 spaces."
"Boo-hoo," I say.
"You guys hungry?" asks Harvey.