Sometimes you win a goldfish in a baggie. Sometimes you win a chicken gyro at Kebabs of Hayes Valley
CHEAP EATS In Lovelock at the Saddest Little Carnival Ever I threw ping-pong balls into little glass cups of water and in this manner won two goldfish. Live ones, looping insanely in a small plastic water cup with a lid on it.
"What do you have to do to win a stuffed one?" I said, indicating with a tilt of my head one of the strings of orange-and-white-striped Nemo fish adorning all four posts of the booth. These would have made much better travel companions. Then I could have given it to one of the chunks when I got home.
The carny flashed a piano keyboard smile and drawled, "Those are just for show."
"I see," I said, wishing I could have those five-for-a-dollar ping-pong balls back and miss this time. What was I going to do with a plastic cup of goldfish on a 10-day road trip?
There were about 14 other people at the Saddest Little Carnival Ever, and about 13 of them were not on the Zipper, the Orbit, the Spaceship 2000, or the merry-go-round. I found a 10-year-old mark who had gotten away from his parents for the moment and looked like he might know what to do with some goldfish on a 10-day road trip. Or maybe he lived in Lovelock.
"Do you want them?" I said.
"Yes," he said.
So I handed him the little plastic cup and got the hell out of there before his parents came around.
I should have gambled, because lately I've been hitting my marks. In San Francisco, weirdly, I scored goals each of the past two Sundays. One was in a 14-4 win, so everyone was doing it, and the other — in a 6-5 win — was lucky cause it grazed off a defender's head or their keeper surely would have gotten it.
But that's what I'm saying. Lucky. I should have gambled in Lovelock. On money, not ping-pong balls and goldfish.
Alice Shaw the Person, my teammate and old friend, wanted to go to a barbecue with all the Brazilian boys on our team, and — having grilled the meats with Brazilian boys myself, once or twice — I wanted to go too.
Alas, I had me some childerns to tend to that afternoon, so Alice Shaw the Person went to the feast with someone else and lent me her car to get home.
In life, no one has lent me more cars than Alice Shaw the Person. The last thing I want to do is get onions all over her upholstery. But I was not only hungry as a fullback, I was running late for work and needed of course a bath.
So I did. I ate in the car. First I had to find a parking spot between Ghirardelli Square and the Mission, and that happened at Gough and Hayes. So Kebabs of Hayes Valley seemed like a pretty good idea.
Kebabs in cars, right? It's like a giant toothpick only it's putting in instead of taking out, and in the end everyone is happy, give or take the onions.
Yeah, but I didn't get kebabs. They had Mediterranean wraps, and that seemed even better. Lamb and beef gyro on lavash, with lettuce, tomato, pepper, cukes, and tahini. Sounds to me like shawarma.
Whatever, it was so good, and I was so hungry, that I'm pretty sure none of it — not even a crumb — made it to the floor or even the seat of that car.
One thing, though: there wasn't any lamb, or beef, in my lamb and beef gyro wrap. It was chicken. All chicken. And it was so juicy and delicious that instead of being mad I was like, yeah, that's what I meant.
So: New favorite restaurant, for reading my mind. And for being there. It seemed like an okay place to eat in, too. Some people were. They looked happy and clean.
But what do I know?
I know there's a little boy in Nevada whose parents are yelling at him, right now, and while this isn't ideal, I'll take it.
KEBABS OF HAYES VALLEY
Sun.–Thu. 11 a.m.–10 p.m.;
Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
406 Hayes, SF