You know the kind of person who has a big brush moustache and a European accent that you can’t quite place by country? Don’t be fooled by the Cuban music playing on the sound system, or the fact that you are being served Italian food. Anyway, it hardly matters, because within about two minutes of sitting down, he will tell you how he was born in Trieste, but went to a French private school. Trieste was the port for the Austro-Hungarian Empire, so unlike the rest of Italy, it is largely Austrian. But then he went to live in South East Asia, and now plans to retire to the Saba, a region of the Philippines, where, you learn, according to him, you can get a 20 year old maid and a massage from a 20 year old, presumably not the same 20 year old, all for about six dollars a week.

If you are hungry and want to hurry along the ordering of your meal, you are going to have to wait, because you still have to hear about how America has a crazy relationship with religion, but he is a communist like the rest of civilized Europe, plus you get to hear about how pregnant women should drink wine and lots of other news. You, it might surprise you to learn are apparently are still clinging on to ancient ideas forwarded by Adam Smith, whereas he is more progressive, with socialist ideals that are more modern.

It would do you no good to mention the simmering flash pot that the whole world is, with America, unfortunately hardly at the forefront of extremist religion and intolerance, and that going to Saba, from what little you know of the Philippians, is a good spot to get your head chopped off, by either the Muslims, the Maoists, the rebels, or the tiny sects of Christians who crawl for miles until their skin comes off before staging a crucifixion.


However, the fusili with peas is quite tasty, as is the flat bread pizza. And you already learned that they make their own sauce, they make their own bread, they do everything all the time from the best ingredients and on and on. And it is kind of nice, even when the table nearby says the wine is off, and he tests it by drinking it. It is kind of charming. Not charming in the way that makes you want to go back again, but still charming.

And of course after a starchy meal that hits the spot, largely as a result of cheese and cream, you walk home, for a day that couldn’t be beat.


Actually, the day was almost a day that couldn’t be beat. In the morning, a lovely hike to the East Peak of Mt. Tam, breathtaking views for a hundred miles in 360 degrees, waspy couples from Marin out hiking with their uptight fleece and stretchy milled Nike gear, a gathering of Boy Scouts—all quite nice.

But then, in between that and the Italian dinner that couldn’t be beat, a trip to J. Crew, where, waiting on the leather bench outside while the wife tries on cloths, you seriously consider the merits of flinging yourself from the balcony onto the faux marble four stories below in the food court. Not because of any wish for suicide, of course, but just because being in a mall, even a historic, upscale mall, such as this one is, is like drinking a cup of poison while burning metal flakes are pushed under your fingernails and dogs eat you alive in pit of alligators, with flaming balls of dung raining down on you, and you have a toothache.

But besides that it was smooth as silk. Except for the silk screen incident. Which was earlier in the day, and can basically be summarized as this: you might think there is no great trick to making silk screen shirts, but you are wrong about that. There are many things that can go wrong.

Besides that, it was a lovely Saturday. Even though the Vince Vaughn movie that we saw that evening (The Prime Gig, which also stars Ed Harris, Wallace Shawn, Julia Ormond and George Wendt) hardly made sense. But all in all, pretty nice day.