Craft fare

Pretty Lady

CHEAP EATS There was this crafts fair at one of our bars, and Sockywonk said she knew a guy who was giving away waffles. "Crafts fair?" I said, picturing clothes, jewelry, and purses, but not waffles.

Yeah, she said. He'd figured out a way to get waffle batter into an aerosol can, like Reddy-Wip, and he was promoting his brilliant invention by feeding all the craft fairies for free.

I loved Sockywonk for knowing such a thing. But after a sporty morning, I had me a good sticky, stinky sweat on and was mostly interested in her bathtub. We were going to a potluck at another bar later in the afternoon. I still had my soccer socks on.

"Well ... " I said.

"Waffles!" she said, and what could I say? I had to agree with her 100 percent, once she put it like that. Waffles! Free ones, at that, and I was hungry and only had exactly $1.15.

"Waffles!" I said. And I changed my socks, borrowed a shirt, and found all sorts of things in Sockywonk's bathroom to rub and spray on myself in lieu of a waterier bath.

At the end of the block we joined forces with Natty King Coal, the oatmeal pusher, and his charming bag lady–enforcer (and my personal hero) Little Orphan-Maker Annie, who was on crutches due to a grisly roller derby smash-up. She hadn't been out of the house in months. I'm not kidding.

Annie had a crazed and wonderful look in her eye, like Give Me Blood, or syrup, or bargains. She also had a handicapped-parking thingy, so we drove to the bar even though it was within walking distance — or would have been, without pins and rods and crushed bones and so forth.

"What's that smell?" Natty King said once all the car doors were closed.

"Do you mean 'What are those smells?'" I said. "They represent a delicate yet complicated blending of the usual — sweat, smoke, and chicken shit — with the unusual: whatever the hell Socky keeps on the shelf in her bathroom."

Sockywonk works at a girly, soapy bath, spray, and general smell shop called Common Scents, and that was pretty much what I smelled like, like the entire store, Common Scents, on 24th Street. Plus sweat and smoke and of course chicken shit.

"I like it," the Orphan-Maker said, turning in her seat and smiling. Christ, she's so sweet. And that was the end of that discussion.

At the crapshoot, or crafts fair, Sockywonk left less $40, the Orphan-Maker dropped two great T-shirts' worth, plus the $20 she spotted the Wonk for even more cool stuff. Natty King, who knows how to treat his girls, bless him, went down whatever-the-worth of three bags of hot-sauced mango from a sidewalk vendor. Yum! And I, your chicken farmer truly, walked away with exactly $1.15, plus Aunt Jemima stains all over my borrowed shirt. Syrup. Sorry, Socky.

The verdict on aerosol-can waffle and pancake batter?

Yeah. Whatever. No, I mean, it was free, and it was delicious. But being a person who loves to cook, and who loves to spend as much time as possible doing the things that I love to do, like cooking, why in the world would I ever in the world squeeze waffle batter out of a can? And then blow time looking out the window that I could have more wisely spent separating egg whites and hand-whisking until they hold soft peaks?

No kidding, I make three meals a day. I want to have my hands in the food, and my arms, teeth, and tongue when appropriate. Like sex, I actually want it to take as long as possible. And dirty all the dishes. (I'll do 'em in the morning.) You're in a hurry, I know. You have a job. Check it out: Me, I'll keep doing what I do ... stirring constantly.


My new favorite restaurant is Pretty Lady, a divine dive in West Oakland.

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