Tuesday, January 25, 2005

the pleasures of fresh grease

Our party Saturday night lasted all of an hour; it was what we call a trough party--buffets, disposable plates and forks, great huge wads of guests. The last event of a long day for a group of alums from a local university I shall not name. Although everything was done up in red and white, which should be enough of a hint for some of you, the usual big white esses were nowhere in evidence. The tables were covered in red linens, and the risers that held up the platters had been covered in red felt with white felt polka dots stuck on with double-sided tape. Combined with the red and white balloon arches over the bars, the effect was very Seussian, which I'm not sure had been the point.

Anyway. They had an hour to eat their little sandwiches, see how much chicken they could yank off the skewers to wrap up in paper napkins to take home, and pull the design team's apples out of the giant fishbowls in which they were displayed, nearly upsetting lit votives and setting all that red felt ablaze in the process.

I can't fault them; these people will probably still be paying off their student loans when their own children leave for college. But it was kind of funny. We'd been there for hours setting up, and of course we were there for an hour after they left, picking up chickenless skewers from where they'd been dropped (everywhere except the plentiful trashcans, needless to say), and I was struck yet again by the time, money, effort--and waste--that goes into a catered event.

Since we were out so early, we piled into cars and went to Liverpool Lil's, which is where we always seem to end up after gigs in the Presidio, and ate huge hamburgers at the tiny tables in the bar. B and I sat next to each other and pretended that we could only use the index and middle fingers of our hands, which is a lot funnier than it probably sounds, and Emperor tried to explain to us all what was happening at the Australian Open, which was playing on a massive television above our heads. Sort of a lost cause, considering that none of us care about tennis except Emperor, but B did take a moment to appreciate how much better-looking Andre Agassi has gotten with age. Across the narrow aisle the deeply gay Opera, who'd had so many martinis his eyes were getting slitty, gave Hound, who is male and deeply straight, advice on how to approach women. Which was, like B and I and our claws, much funnier than it probably sounds.

And then, bliss. Emperor drove B and I home, and as always happens when that happens, we stopped at Bob's Donuts for the best and freshest-tasting donuts you will ever find, anywhere. We had to: we'd been talking about it for probably two hours by that time. They use fresh oil! we'd enthused to our co-workers over the hamburgers at Lil's (I ate B's pickle, incidentally, but then he was surreptitiously eating the lettuce off everyone's plates.) They're not too sweet like Krispy Kremes! we said to each other around dripping mouthfuls of meat. They have real character! we said to the waitress, who had completely had it with us by that time but was managing to stay gracious (even when we found she'd made a fifteen-dollar error on our bill). Emperor, who recently gave in and got his first cell phone, called the donut shop to see what they were making just before we left the bar, which seemed decadent to me.

Bob's, Bob's, Bob's. Let me count the ways. B had a crumb donut, Emperor a maple bar, dense and sticky. I had a chocolate-covered raised that was like eating a cloud, if clouds were warm and yeasty and covered with chocolate. The two older couples who were there before us watched the donut maker--who could have been Bob, for all I know, a smallish smiling Asian guy with a little paper hat--dipping cake donuts in chocolate and decided to take some home for their kids. A man with a tangled beard sat at the counter sipping coffee and watching the television news.

Twenty-four hours. If you live in San Francisco, you could go right now. They'll be open. And the donuts will be fresh.