Cinema-related panic is nothing a bowl of spicy ramen can't fix
CHEAP EATS We went to see Moneyball. You know: We have soft spots in our hearts for baseball. Additionally, Hedgehog has a wet spot in her panties for Brad Pitt; and I in mine, truth be told, for Jonah Hill.
Before he lost the weight, mind you — although he's pretty funny after, too.
Anyway, it was a good movie, and Jonah Hill was fat, and the popcorn was quite good, but still I had a nervous breakdown afterwards. No idea why. I think it had something to do with a shot near the end of the movie. Brad Pitt, as Billy Beane, driving on I-880 I believe, and through his window the stacks and stacks of cargo containers down the harbor. Maybe the familiarity was too familiar for comfort (I once had a panic attack on that exact stretch of freeway) or the bounce of the frame or the camera angle. Something. Something took the fight right out of me.
I tried to compose myself in the ladies room after. "I exist, therefore I am," I wrote, on toilet paper. "Now," I continued, plagiarizing shamelessly: "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life ..."
No. I composed and composed. I stole, I borrowed, I begged, I vandalized, I unraveled and unraveled, but could not find the little bouncy rubber ball at the center of things. Not even for the life of me. So, after a fairly normal amount of time had passed, I flushed and washed and walked back out into the lobby, all dry-eyed and dignified-like. Hedgehog smiled. We rode down the escalator together.
Nervous breakdowns are hard to explain.
"Sushi, or ramen?" she said. (We were after all in Japantown.)
I would have jumped at either, normally. I love the sushi. I love the ramen. But to give me a choice, at a time like this, was cruel and unusual. Or would have been, if she only knew what I was going through.
Nevertheless, I thought I would have something by the time we reached the bottom. If not an answer, a word. A question. A rubber ball. A look. Anything. But I could not, would not, Sam-I-Am. I was nothing but fear . . . of absolutely nothing. So paralyzed, so empty, that I could not lift my feet and was sucked like a stick-figured cutout into the machinery of it all, the gear and grind, sending me back up, undersided and undecided, crinkle, fold, and rip.
Hedgehog does not have patience for indecision, let alone cartoonery. "Ramen?" she said. "Or sushi." As if changing the order of things would fix it for me.
I managed to say something. We were standing at the foot of the escalator, by the door. "I'm having a panic attack," I said.
And — for those of you who can relate, so you know, there is something about calling your panic attack a panic attack, out loud and in the middle of it, that kind of diffuses the situation. Try it.
I was still scared and empty, but I could step again, at least, and think, and imagine food.
"Ramen," I said. And say.
And we walked very slowly to Suzu. Probably for the best, we had to sit outside, which doesn't mean outside outside. It means out in Japantown Center, instead of in the small, cozy, bustling restaurant. But at least we could sit right away and have a glass of water.
I had of course warned Hedgehog that anxiety and panic were possible parts of the package, although neither had really attacked me, as such, in a year or two. Now, while we waited on our spicy ramen (me) and Tokyo ramen (her), I tried to gauge whether she still loved me or not, or the same. And all the while I still wasn't totally convinced that I wasn't about to drop dead, either.
Love and life notwithstanding, what we learned that day was that, yo, we kinda needed each other. My ramen was so insanely spicy, and hers so ridiculously bland, that the only way either one of us could be quite satisfactorily nourished was to mix the two together.
And as we did, spoon by spoon, we relished the weirdness of eating outside of an indoor restaurant, in a mall, and gradually my heart beat, breathing, and dimensionality came back to me.
New favorite restaurant:
SUZU NOODLE HOUSE
Daily: 11:30 a.m.- 9 p.m
1825 Post St., SF.
Beer & wine