Enlightened Babies and a Sea of Meatballs

Light is pouring through the windows at the front of Pizzaiolo, causing everything and everyone in my vision to be darkened silhouettes, a world of shadow play against a modestly blinding backdrop.  I find it strange how taking a different seat can radically alter perception.  I am accustomed to sitting with my back to the light, so that my view is of that which is illuminated.  I want to make some vast, sweeping parallel between this strictly physical observation and the figurative, metaphorical, metaphysical world.  I’m sure I could.  But I won’t… at least not right now…

My dear friend Brad is sitting beside me today.  He is visiting from the island of Kauai.  As we walked the single block from his borrowed pick-up truck to the café, his nervous system bucked and snorted in response to all the chaos and bustle of city livers living city life.  He said he felt like he was steeping in an invisible circus.  I saw the world that is Oakland through new eyes.  Oh yeah… it IS a mecca of psychic static here.  My roots have always twisted downward in urban soil.  It is all I know.  But I do incessantly fantasize about chewing myself free from all this noise and chaos some day, just for the shit-a-licious giggle of it and giving a quieter life a whirl.  Who would I BE without all the continuous human interference?  I’m afraid I’d be bored.  And I simultaneously imagine that I’d be able to think a lot straighter.  But who wants to think straight anyway?  I like thinking crooked and twisted and inside out.  But some day, I dare myself to give it a shot.

Day three here at Pizzaiolo, and I am starting to feel a delicious familiarity with the cast of characters in this scene.  My choir director is here again today.  Melanie.  She’s a large, soulful black woman with long dread locks.  Her presence is wide and inviting.  My Italian boyfriend is here.  Though just for the record, he is not excruciatingly attractive.  (But he’s Italian!!!)  Also this dude Quin is here.  I used to work with Quin ten years ago in the vitamin section of the Real Food Company.  He was the “strong but silent type”.  I love that expression!  The strong but silent type.  Worn out, used up expression though it may be, it still teases my ticklish heart.  I guess I have a specific fondness for men who don’t talk much, yet have an overtly rich inner world.  Come on, don’t they drive you wild?  (I can almost hear you saying NO, they don’t)  But I dig ‘em, because A) I am such a very curious human and I love burning in the wondering at their rich, secret worlds, and B) I can relate.  I, myself have a very rich, secret inner world, which no matter how fervently I attempt to translate it, it is far too vast and mysterious even to me, who perpetually dwells there.  But at least I know I am in good company.  (Just for the record, I love men who talk as well.  But only if they are highly interesting, intelligent, have spectacular senses of humor and refined sensitivity.)

Ahem, back to you, Quin.  Strong, silent Quin. (Time out.  Brad just whispered that we were both talking about the same thing, but from opposite sides of an invisible wall. ???  He’s a wizard.  Mostly I don’t speak Wizard-ese… except a few simple things like hello and goodbye.  But I can’t ask the time, because Wizards don’t quite believe in time.  Nor can I count to ten, since they don’t often ride that linear, numeric merry-go-round, like we garden variety mortals.  Linear, shminear, spit the Wizard folk through rebellious, twisted lips.)  The important thing to tell you about Quin is that I savored days when we worked together.  He often played Erykah Badu in the store.  I fell in love with her through him. “If you want to feel me, better be divine.  Bring me water, water for my mind.”  I let my heart tingle and my mind melt into a pool of dreaminess in his presence.  It was all indulgence and teenage fantasy.  But then one fateful day, he announced his impending departure from the Real Food Company.  He was going to move away and study some kind of herbal medicine.  His exit jumpstarted my courage, and I confessed my infatuation with him.  I was brazen.  We worked together on his last day and I asked him if he’d make out with me in the back room.  To my surprise, he said YES! (at age twenty, I still had yet to fully recognize my powers of seduction)  I was in heaven tasting his lips.  He was so healthy.  He smelled like horse.  I love horses.  My whole body drenched in desire and lust.  Yum.  Quin made my unholy, wet, feverish, girlie dream come true.  And now ten years later, he works on his laptop on the lighter side of this very café, as I type my brains out over here in the shadows.  Should I say hello?  I feel shy.

In other news, I’ve got to tell you that the cooks are already here, prepping for dinner.  It’s eleven oh eight am.  On my way back from the bathroom, I peeked over the high counter that divides the dining room from the cooking area and what did I see, but a sea of uniform yet unique, raw meatballs!!!  They were bigger than golf balls and full of onion and herb chunks.  Meatballs.  You don’t get it, do you?  What words can I spray at you to make you understand the importance of this artistic plethora of meatballs?  I don’t know.  Never mind.  Another noteworthy thing about the kitchen, is that one of the cooks, or maybe he was just an overseer… but he was up in all the kitchen commotion… he was holding an adorable, fat little Asian baby while he worked.  I love that.  I love seeing people include children in the mundane workings of day to day life, rather than leaving them at home to rot in the sequestered world of Sesame Street and mini, plastic, indoor slides.  Plus, this baby was luminous as hell.  She had these deep, brown eyes that gratuitously sloshed joy all over everything.  Oh, and come to think of it, on my first day here, there was a two-ish year old boy running around with no pants on in the back.  I felt simultaneously shocked and tickled and inspired to see this chubby, free little being, fully clothed on top and naked as a buck from the waste down.  Three cheers for living in a world where children are welcomed and free to spread their unhindered magic!

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