Ways we were

Banana House
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I was sitting at the bar drinking whiskey with Hobosack, talking about art and writing and waiting for the band to go on so that we could move our heads and close our eyes and rattle on the inside. It's like being back in grad school, I thought, and this was a warm thing to think on a cold, cold night, until I realized that ... why the hell would I want to be back in grad school?

Actually, I can think of some answers to that question: namely, Dash would still be alive, and the Bomb. I wouldn't be scared. Angelina's sausage calzone and pasta fagioli at Tony's ... It's warmer on the East Coast than the West one right now — but then, of course, it wouldn't be now if I were back in school; it would be then. And snow would be piling up on top of my trailer, the roof sagging and starting to drip.

Nostalgia is a funny thing, innit? Why would we want the way things were? Even if times were great, they are history, and history sucks. Because it's gone.

Whereas the here and now is here, and now, and still has everything, including sensation, whiskey, a strong backbeat, new friends, old memories, Thai food, and — begrudgingly I admit it — candy.

They said on the radio recently that looking at photographs releases more happiness chemicals in the human brain than chocolate or a stiff drink or other stiff ... stuff, or drugs or even hugs — although this starts to seem improbable, so maybe I'm malremembering.

Anyway, I was out in my storage shed looking for something else when I accidentally came across two pictures of Yatee-Yatee-Bing-Eh-Eh-Eh, and then some ones of Crawdad de la Cooter, Feather River. Happiness chemicals were nowhere to be found in my human brain. In fact, these images brought me to my knees, and my storage shed floor, so you know, is concrete and cold and covered in rat shit. My tears were not tears of joy.

There were in the same box so many pictures of the Bomb, from baby to buddy, that I could have put them in order, if I were an orderly person, and made a flip movie of his life and a big bowl of popcorn to go with it.

Not a happy ending.

Hobosack is a man who cries, and this is in fact how we became friends, even though he doesn't eat meat and actually prefers dessert to main courses.

We were downtown, trying to find a Vietnamese restaurant I keep thinking about and can never quite locate, when suddenly there was Banana House, and then: parking.

"You like Thai?" I asked, blinkering the open spot.

"Bananas are two of my three favorite foods," Hobosack said.

I was charmed and alarmed by this information. Hobosack elaborated: banana Laffy Taffy is his first favorite food, actual bananas his third. That his top 10 list also included coffee, beer, and cake cracked me up and made my teeth start to hurt.

"Are you sure you want to have dinner?" I asked.

He did! I agreed to yum hed, which is a mixed mushroom salad, for the sake of the lettuce and the spicy lime dressing ($6.95). By accident, I even liked one of the three or four kinds of mushrooms, and it happened to be the one Hobosack didn't like, lucky us. It was clear and looked like something you'd see while snorkeling. Anyone?

There was mango curry, a red coconut-milk concoction with basil and peppers ($7.95), and chicken satay ($7.95) so that I could cut some meat up into everything else. It was dry and bland, but it was meat.

And the bathroom was gravy — unisexual — but so cold that I couldn't stop clacking until we went back to Sack's for some hot tea. Then to El Rio, where the heat was on and overhead ceiling vents poured artificial warmth down the outsides of us while we poured whiskey into the insides.

And nobody got hurt or lost time or even cried. Although, as nice a night as it was, somehow we'd neglected to have any bananas.

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