The future's got spice

Collaborating on life -- and tucking in at Pagarung Thai


CHEAP EATS Remember Montclair Village in the Oakland foothills? Yeah, you think you're in this cute little awesome little hidden-away hide-a-hood, until all of a sudden you realize most everything around you is a stupid chain. Starbucks and Peet's are on the best corners, across from each other. But you have to look a little harder to find Nelly's Java down the road, where the wireless is free and there are plenty of empty tables.

So hurray for mas and for pas, and let's hear it for Nelly in general.

I was sitting in this, my new favorite coffeehouse, one day, essentially turning my latest short story start into an idea for a novel so that I would feel a lot better about never finishing it...

And that's what I call an honest day's work.

Hedgehog, speaking of work work work work work, was writing something journalistical and needed to do an interview. So she left Nelly and me and went to sit in her car.

Eventually I started to feel slightly somewhat bored with piling up possible unfinished novel starts, so I packed it in and left. I sat in Hedgehog's car with her, in a Montclair Village parking space, and stared straight ahead.

Which felt relatively productive.

But the interview went on and on, and hunger ensued. And ensued. Until I couldn't hardly stand it anymore, so I didn't. I abandoned car. I started to walk.

What I found, wandering the little village like a flamingo in a sporting goods store, was Pagarung Thai. It was tucked away behind Safeway in a not-so-easily achieved parking lot, and it looked pretty ma-and-pa-ish in its own right. Or at least not a chain.

So, OK: That was where we eventually had lunch. At my new favorite restaurant.

No, I'm not still mad at our waitressperson, even though we had to chase her down and practically beg for rooster sauce. We hadn't had to beg for Hedgehog's fork and napkin, but only because I'd snagged her one — after a while — from someone else's table.

The service was barely serviceable, I'm saying. And the food was, in a word... a'ight.

Ten-dollar lunch special combo: barbecued chicken, and papaya salad for me. The chicken came with a good, gooey sweet-and-zingy sauce that got even better with a couple scoops of the mercifully granted hot sauce.

The papaya salad was overdressed. But I tend to lean in that direction myself — in life as in salad.

Hedgehog ordered one of the not-so-special lunch specials: spicy noodle chicken, which was wide rice noodles sautéed with chicken, onion, cabbage, basil, and alleged chili. Not the least bit spicy, though. Thus the hot sauce urgency.

What we talked about while we waited for things and then ate them (and why Pagarung is, in spite of all of the above, my new favorite restaurant) was collaborating on a screenplay based on the unfinished novel inspired by my barely conceived short story about a jobless journalist who would rather be writing poetry, woohoo!

Hedgehog being Hedgehog, this shit is liable to get done — ruining everything. All that I have worked for will one day lie in neat little pages at my feet. Or, worse comes to worse, on TV!

As I speak, we are on page 99. And of course it has turned into a baseball story. Hedgehog being Hedgehog.

You see what she's doing, don't you? She's making it so we practically have to go to a lot of games this season, just for research, and then we can write them all off on our taxes.

Everything, even the hot dogs!

Today, for example, we watched the Tulane Green Wave nine fall to the U.L. Monroe Whatever-the-Fucks five to three.

We did not, however, eat hot dogs — I think because our refrigerator was full of barbecued eggs and spareribs, plus leftover fried chicken from Willie Mae's Scotch House. But that's another story.

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