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Salad bar science

Stanley and I met at the Tennessee Grill on Taraval, for an early lunch. He’d told me the place is a great, cheap diner, and that was no lie.

“Forget everything you know about salads,” he said, as he showed his technique for stacking a small plate and turning their $1.99 single-serving salad bar into a meal. Some of this I knew, but some of it’s new wisdom:

The key to a bargain salad, Stanley taught and I watched, is that lettuce is a vastly overrated member of the salad. You want to fill yourself up, don’t start with loads of lettuce and add a few frills. Do the opposite: Stock up on the bulky vegetables instead, with *maybe a little lettuce on the side. Select the items you want, of course, but choose them with structural integrity in mind. Cottage cheese, for example, should be at the edge of the plate, where it can support other stuff piled on top.

All this was kinda like we were doing the Kwai Chang Caine & Master Po routine, but Stanley’s salad stood 5½ inches tall, quite an architectural achievement. Mine wss about an inch and a half shorter, but hey, salads aren’t usually my thing, and it was enough to fuill me up.

At the Tennessee, this cheapo salad comes with a mini-loaf of sourdough bread, plenty of butter and jam, and a glass of water that — unlike many restaurants’ water — tasted like water. Lunch for two bucks, and it was a good lunch!

Stanley paid the balance due for his van that I sold him last month. He’s gotten it running again, and it was nice to see the old girl. After lunch, and after he’d driven away in the van that used to be mine, I walked around the neighborhood for a while.

I don’t get out to Taraval much, so it was new to me. There are lots of little shops where I didn’t spend anything, including an office supply store. I love office supply stores — there’s always cool stuff — but at this one I watched an old lady say “ledger paper” three times, then explain what it is, to a teenage clerk who shrugged and said, “We don’t carry it.” Well, I don’t need ledger paper, but I also don’t need an office supply store that doesn’t know what it is, so toodle-doo.

At the library branch, their hours were posted so big, my nearsighted eyes could read the sign from across the street, but the hours are like 2PM-6PM, three days a week. With hours that minimal, what’s the point of even pretending it’s a branch of the library? Libraries should be open and circulating books *at least 10-12 hours every day, but that would require taxes and rich people don’t like paying taxes, so the purpose of the library is instead keeping the books locked up and out of anybody’s hands.

♦ ♦ ♦

Coming up Ellis Street after riding the L train back, some yuppie going the same direction as me walked into my next footstep on the sidewalk, stopping me cold. It was just a moment’s irritation, easily forgotten, or it would’ve been, but while I was softly cursing the back of his head, a could of his tobacco swirled into my face. And not even cigarette tobacco, but some horrid stinking cigar smoke. So… 

When he was a few steps ahead of me, I shot a well-aimed loogie between his shoulder blades onto the back of his suit jacket. Nice shot, I thought to myself, and he didn’t even break stride. He just kept walking, like the important man he no doubt is — an important man with a lump of dried snot on his suit.

I don’t like important men.

Then I stepped back into my regal dump, stripped naked, and read and wrote and napped, and looked out the window.

From Pathetic Life #8
Saturday, January 28, 1995

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Addendum, 2021: It's unrelated to this particular day's entry, but wow it's wistful, re-typing and posting these last few entries of January 1995.

It was an ordinary weekend day, not at all bad, and I still remember the salad. And later, I remember thinking as I fell asleep, I am so damned alone in the world, and the weekend's half over so I'm already halfway back to that job that I hate...

I didn't write about the downsides very often, because thinking too much about the blues, or writing about the blues, only makes the blues bluer. But I knew, some things needed to change.

Pathetic Life 

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