CHEAP EATS In honor of my French sister's birthday I ordered a chicken pesto crepe with fromage and how-you-say, toasted almonds, hold the mushrooms ($8.50). It was eight in the morning.
The waitressperson looked at her watch.
"Is it too early for crepes?" I asked. "Do I need to get an omelet?"
She looked at her watch again, shrugged, looked toward the kitchen. It was five in the afternoon in France, but luckily I didn't need to argue this point, because she let me have my crepe, pesto and all.
Earl Butter wasn't eating. I'd offered to buy him something, but he just wanted coffee. I don't know why he wasn't hungry, but I do know (because sometimes I sleep in his closet) that he wakes up at four in the morning, has breakfast, and then goes back to sleep. Anyway, he did have a cup of coffee and a lot to say while I was chewing things over.
"Colma has more dead people in it than live people," he said.
"Is that why you always want to go there for breakfast?" I said.
"Not necessarily," he said. "I just like being in cars."
I offered him a taste of my crepe, which was fantastic, because you can't go wrong with chicken and pesto and feta, I think it was.
"Good," he said, and he said it again after I offered him a taste of the potatoes, which were fantastic. They were cooked in some kind of a ramekin and then plopped onto the plate, crispy outside and creamy underneath. Fantastic.
So good that 10 days later when I woke up in Earl Butter's closet again, needing something to eat, I said, "What about that place?"
"No," I said. "On Divis. With the upside-down potatoes. My new favorite restaurant."
"With the crepes?"
Yes. It came to me: the Bean Bag Café. I remembered because when I sleep in Earl Butter's closet, I'm sleeping on beanbags, and my body I think retains the information. This doesn't sound comfortable, I know, but these are my favorite nights' sleep. Closets are dark, and my chickens have me trained to spring out of bed at the first creak of daylight, no matter where in the world I am.
Except in Earl Butter's closet, where daylight dares not tread, I get to sleep in, and as a result it was closer to lunchtime than breakfast by the time we were in the Bean Bag, placing our order. Baja omelet for him ($7.50), La Mancha omelet for me ($8.50).
Again: fantastic! Well, mine was, because it had grilled chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, green onions, and provolone, hold the mushrooms. Earl's Baja, which I didn't taste and didn't want to, featured soy chorizo with avocado, black beans, salsa, and sour cream. I don't think he saw the word soy before he ordered and was expecting the real thing.
So he was disappointed about that and disappointed because this time there were people there. It was late morning on a Sunday. We got the last open table, in the middle of the café. There's also a kind of a closed-in patio and a couple tables out on the sidewalk.
"Turn around," Earl Butter said, with a scowl, halfway through our meal.
I turned around, and there was a line winding out the door.
"You didn't tell me you were bringing me where people were," he said.
To make it up to him, I washed about a month's worth of Earl's dishes, swept his kitchen floor, took the garbage out, then drove him to West Oakland, and put him in a car with my brother, so now, while I'm writing this, he's somewhere in Nevada or Utah or Wyoming, where people aren't. He gets to spend Thanksgiving with my family, in Ohio. And I get to cook in his clean kitchen, sleep in his big bed if I want, and go to Guerneville and play cards with Choo-Choo and Ding-a-Ling-a-Ling and all their fabulous friends.
I'll probably also go back to the Bean Bag at least once, because I do love their potatoes and people and because besides eggs and crepes they also have burgers, bagels, smoothies, salads, and sandwiches with names that make me feel at home: Sonoma, Petaluma, Bodega Bay ...
What are you doing for Thanksgiving?