By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
I am so busy shoving my filet mignon Oscar—that's topped with crab (and not with a k), asparagus and béarnaise sauce—down my gullet, I don't even notice the man opening his birthday gift at the table directly below our dais. Somewhere in my foggy brain, I have a memory of him, just moments before, refolding the shirt of which Cher is speaking. "Did you see what his wife and daughter gave him for his birthday?" she is asking as I lovingly pour more of the pinot noir. It was someone's birthday? "They gave him a white polo shirt," Cher explains. "For his birthday. After all this time, they have no idea who he is." Hmmm. Did he like it? "He looked unenthused."
But how could she tell? The daughter was looking at her plate throughout the fancy Fleming's Steakhouse celebration dinner. Dad was a mass of gray. Mom was widening and was impeccably . . . still. They're my family in Upside-downland. Were my family here, everyone would hate us: we're loud, but our un-WASPy volume is only because we're so charismatic and terribly, terribly amusing it wouldn't be right not to share it with the world!
Cher begins to spin a wicked tale of my family at dinner in 20 years. I don't know why. Because she's mean, I guess: Your dad wasn't invited because someone's mad at him.Oh, no, Dad comes to everything. He's always invited. Okay, so your dad's there. Commie Mom is 80, and she's had a couple of martoonis and is spitting fire at strangers.Yes, she and I both think that's charming and hilarious. Your son, now closing on 30 himself, is there with the girlfriend you hate. But why do I hate her? She pushes him around. She does? How come? Because you dominate him. Shit. I do dominate him. But listen: someone's got to make the decisions. As long as she treats him kindly, my son's girlfriend can be as ball-busting as she wants.
Thinking about it, I like her already! Cher's tale of familial mortification has warmed my heart as well as the pinot before it.
Our attention is drawn back to the family due to the fact they've done nothing in the world that could possibly draw our attention. Perhaps it isn't that they don't know about his inner quiet storm. Maybe a white polo shirt is all he is.
We order up a chocolate soufflé. It is exquisite, earthy and not face-scrunchingly sweet. It is every bit as preposterously delicious as the buttery, bloody filet mignon Oscar, the huge hunk of which is not in my well-packed doggy bag when I get home. It's okay: I have all Cher's leftovers, which she really, really wanted to keep, but she can get herself some more creamed spinach and another New York bone-in steak when she comes back to Fleming's the very next day for her birthday dinner because Fleming's, she says, is that good. It is the first time she's bothered telling me her birthday was the next day, or I'd have got her at least a white polo shirt and also have made sure I had enough cash on me so she wouldn't have to leave the tip. We are fat, drunk, home by 10 on a Friday night, and happy as can be.
I just did a Whip-It. God, high school was really fun—for part of it.
I packed my clown car full of girls Saturday afternoon and headed down to San Clemente for the best birthday party in the entire world—great food, fine people, my brother-in-law as the guest of honor, and the prettiest manicured yard in which to yap—until the band started. God damn loud San Clemente punks. Musician guests made polite faces while people retreated to the farthest possible point from the noise and still couldn't be heard when shouting. My sister danced at the front, having herself a Hessian-good time.
Please make it stop.
We split and fled to The Fling. I'm toying with making it my local bar, but it's not really fun till 11 p.m., when the oldsters begin to hit their strides—they've got stamina like steam engines!—and I want somewhere I can go at six. Dilemmas!
Anyway, we got there too early, and it was nowhere near as fun as last week, when I arrived at 11:30 and les anciens were cutting a rug and saying things like, "I told him to fuck off! Pardon my French. It means 'Fuck you!'"Chris Hanlin, who, along with his fiancée, Kelly O, had ditched the party and joined us, suggested we go see Buchanan at the Gypsy Lounge. I countered with Gaffney at the Blue. Neither of us budged.
We went to Flock of Goo Goo at Alex's.
It was boring and crowded full of the pretty little punks who make me feel my housewifely age, until the band started.
I have never been to a better show in my life.
There was Gabby from Cadillac Tramps and Manic Hispanic, dressed in a ruffly Prince shirt and Prince wig and Prince hairy mole. There was Greg Antista (Foxy) in lace that showed his incipient gut—and a Pinkie Tuscadero-type of neckerchief. There was Steve Soto (The Adolescents, and he looks fantastic) in a Devo helmet. There was that other dude in a Choose Life shirt. We were happy before they ever played their first note.