Countdown: 4 weeks, 7 (6) days

Eh I’m kind of cusp-y again huh? We’ll sort it out later. Incidentally, I’ve started saying and writing “sort it out” an awful lot lately. I think it’s because of my boss at work, who’s English, as in proper English, and says it a lot. I like how my vocabulary and vernacular evolves and adapts to the surroundings it’s in; it’s flexible.

Um, but the point. So my girlfriend’s still out of town, and I’ve come to realize that while I am not entirely, utterly, and completely useless without her, I do seem to not take care of myself in as good of a fashion. I didn’t eat anything for about twenty four hours straight, I was up for two nights in a row, I’m still awake up even though I should be asleep (and I actually am tired but unwilling to sleep for the moment), and I drank all too much this evening on very little food.

But that was a lot of fun.

I didn’t want to go home after work. I had spent some time on the phone calling some old high school friends, trying to schedule in some social activity to catch up and whatnot before I skipped the country (for good). I was marginally successful. And as I was nearing my exit off the freeway, the thought of actually going home became less and less appealing, so I just kept going. I convinced myself that I needed cash, which I didn’t, and took an exit where I knew an ATM for my bank would be. It was old town Monrovia, a charming little stretch of say, half a dozen blocks. I parked, even went to the ATM for good measure, and started walking around. The summer evening was quite cool and made for good walking weather.

At first I thought I wanted to find a bar. A Guiness on tap sounded very good. I quickly came to realize that old town Monrovia is quite, clean. Very cute, very quaint, very small town feel, which evidently means that a “skeazy” type bar is not high on the list of things to maintain and/or advertise. As in, I failed to find a bar. But I did find a coffee shop, and though I don’t normally drink coffee, I nonetheless ordered an iced latte. The only employee there was very nice; she even brought the coffee to my table where I sat, reading the day’s LA Times. I spent some time reading, spent some time watching the people come and go. There was a young-ish couple, probably mid-twenties, who came, ordered drinks, and sat down with a couple of boardgames. There was a family, father, mother, son, who sat on the cushy couch with their coffee and cookie and read children’s picture books to the son. There were two very hip and out of place looking guys, again probably mid-twenties, who sat down and played the guitar with probably too much “look at me, I’m playing the guitar” attitude. Tools in other words. There was a pretty large family, who looked drunk though all they drank was coffee, who had a son as well, and some extraneous women whose relation I couldn’t decipher. They started playing the guitar as well, with that same toolish attitude.

I also spent some time on the phone, finalizing some social plans, chatting with my girlfriend. My phone died, and as yet another example of just how nice the only employee there was, she let me use the coffee shop’s phone to call back, just to say bye and good night.

They closed far too early, and I was left wandering again. Down a side street I saw a relatively raucous looking crowd, the sort that might actually hang out in front of a bar. Upon further inspection, it turned out to be just a group of probably thirties women gathered in front of a Japanese restaurant, finishing their dinner.

I walked by casually, imitating nonchalance, as if I had just happened by and was not in fact seeking human contact. I probably overacted as I peered clumsily at the hours of operation sign, and the nice Japanese waitress told me they were still open, and ushered me inside. It was a small establishment, and I wasn’t particularly hungry so I just asked for the drink menu. I ordered a ‘small’ of Nigori sake, not expecting to actually get an entire bottle.

The crowd had dispersed by then, and as I finished my first cup the other occupant, an elderly gentlemen with reading glasses and two paper back books on his arm, paid his bill and left as well. They all knew each other by first name. It was, nice. Small town nice you know? After everyone else had left, and I was on my second glass, I came to the obvious realization that I would be unable to finish an entire bottle of Nigori sake on my own. I did the only logical thing, and offered it to the restaurant staff, who gladly accepted, and were very thankful, and there were “Kanpai!”s all around, and I even got a free small bowl of Oden. It turns out the waitress had just recently came from New York, where she had been for twenty years doing finance of all things. It seemed like a family, but they had just opened the restaurant last November. She had never even heard of Monrovia before, but were doing quite well, despite the economy. We reminisced about New York, about the difference between there and LA, about our personal insights into the difference and why one is better than the other or rather than in the end, they’re just different; both wonderful in their own ways.

They all seemed so nice.

Now the creepy serial killer in me would have probably killed that lovely family of restaurateurs. At least, that’s how it would’ve happened in the movies ;)

Instead, I finished my sake, drinking WAY too much, paid my bill with a generous tip, and tipsied out of the restaurant, feeling an odd sort of contentment at how the evening had progressed. I must say, I think I’m digging this small town living.

I do miss Maria though. And I’m kind of hungry…hmmmmmm.

Yet another China-less post eh? I guess I should mention that in my random stranger social interactions, I made no hint that I was leaving the country. I think I’ll leave that particular conversation piece for the next time I venture out in search of random stranger social interactions.


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