CHEAP EATS One night the Maze came over because that's what he does. He comes over. Sometimes he brings his dinner with him.
This time he brought his dinner with him.
He started pulling things out of his backpack as if they were rabbits: part of a loaf of cranberry bread! Hummus! Broccoli! Rabbits! In the water bottle holder on his bike was a half-empty bottle of semi-important wine. Me, I'd already eaten.
Another thing the Maze does is worry. He hedges his bets, shakes his head, and assigns point values to things that most people just try to put into words. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes language doesn't cut it, but given a choice between it and math ... I mean, in matters of the heart, come on: poetry vs. calculus?
The Maze is, for example, lonely. He wants to write; he wants to edit; he wants to sing, soar, shred on the guitar, or at least be in a band. These are just examples.
I like to dance. I get the two-step. I look the Maze in the eye, run the numbers with him, shake my head, want and wonder what he wants and wonders, and just generally try to be useful.
Sometimes I even threaten to throttle or kick him.
"I don't know, Dani," he said. "I just don't know."
"Me neither," I said, having a sip of his half-full bottle of bike-rack red. We were standing in my kitchen. As opposed to sitting. I forget why. Maybe he was fixing to leave.
"I mean, I just don't get it. What am I supposed to do?"
If I knew, I would have said. I'm a good friend. If he would have cried, I would have cried. Existential dilemma loves company.
"Is there something I'm doing wrong?" he asked, sincere pain in his voice, his forehead all wrinkled and labyrinthine (which is how he got his name). And he said it again: "Am I doing something wrong?"
"I don't think so," I said, because I honestly didn't. But then a possibility occurred to me. "When you make pasta," I asked, "you're not rinsing it after you strain it, are you?"
He looked more confused than before. "No," he said.
"Good, then, no, you're not doing anything wrong."
I wasn't exactly joking. As far as I know, this is the only real, unequivocally always wrong mistake one can make in life. And even then, it could be argued that if you're cooking noodles for soup, a cold rinse might not be a bad idea. You know, so they don't overcook in the broth.
But how did I get here? Speaking of existential dilemmas.
It was my birthday, and for my birthday I listened to Abba without guilt. I ate at Boogaloos. I got older. Had late-night hot wings with Earl Butter. Lunch: a smashed sandwich at Tartine. For my birthday the Pod bought my ticket and we all watched a baseball game at the Coliseum. I had a hot dog and a beer. For dinner I ate grilled salmon with a squeeze of lemon over quinoa and swirled kale with tamari sauce.
Kidding!!! I had chicken and waffles, of course. This time at Frisco Fried, which is cheaper than anything I have come across, chicken-and-wafflewise. Six bucks for two thighs and a waffle! You can barely get a burrito for that price anymore.
But before you move to Bayview, this is not the cheapest chicken and waffles in the Bay Area. A bird named Jay just told me: Oakland's Home of Chicken 'n Waffles, or Home O' as I call it for short because chicken and waffles now goes without saying (as does the letter 'f'), has a weekday happy hour special. Between 4 and 7.
But I have to go back to Frisco Fried first and find out what a burger dog is. I can't speak for their Rice-a-Roni, but the mac 'n' cheese was really wonderful. The waffle was okay.