[Tom] [Colophon] [More pK]


<<Happy Labor Day...just back from a motorcycle ride with the Hopster...took

a bit of a spill...but...no damage, cept to our bruised egos, since we took

the spill in the driveway of the restaurant we went to for breakfast.>>

An "Artie Johnson," for sure. And it's so natural, so easy, to laugh like hell at the picture you paint... because motorcycling is cool by its nature. Going down in a restaurant parking lot, especially if you were at a stop - or a near stop - after having made a cool entrance, is akin, in capacity for creating life-long characterizations, to throwing up in the swimming pool at your bosses party... or, while straight and serious of face, accidently squeezing out a keen, treble fart while rising from your chair to speak during an important meeting.

There used to be a restaurant on rural Highway 12, the two-lane roadway leading into Sonoma from the Bay Area; it was about six miles out of town, on the edge of the Shellville airport. It sat back maybe 50 feet from the highway; served French food, if I'm not mistaken. The restaurant was a simple, rectangular building, flat-roofed and painted dark brown. The front of the building was windowed, and in the evening, diners could look out over the gravel parking lot at the cars whizzing by... or further, across an expansive field to the bare, Sonoma hills, perhaps to catch the sun's light fade in the west. I'd stopped there from time to time on my way home from Oakland, where I used to work - never for dinner, but maybe for a beer or two to go.

About 7:00 one summer evening, while on my way home, traffic came to a halt about a half mile from the restaurant. Looking ahead from the vantage point of a slight grade, I could see red lights flashing in the distance; the commotion seemed to be in front of the restaurant. My lane of traffic inched ahead, slowly, giving me ample time to wonder what had happened to cause the rare delay... I couldn't imagine. As I neared the scene, road cones appeared and diverted both lanes of traffic off the blacktop and through the field which lay across from the restaurant. Moving at a crawl through the field, I saw, up close, the mangled carnage of what I came to learn was a head on collision between a homeward-bound motorist and a car full of diners who had finished their dinner and were pulling out of the restaurant's gravel, parking lot; all were killed. The story has it that there was the loud, ear-shattering sound of the homeward-bound motorist's screeching tires as he tried to stop prior to the ultimate impact... a screeching sound of a few seconds duration which caused all the restaurant's diners and servers to pause and look out through the panoramic, front windows.

The restaurant closed and never re-opened. Today, it's a shop which deals in rare birds and bird supplies... "The Bird House," I think it's called. I hardly ever have occasion to take that road any more. But on those occasions when I have, as I passed the bird building, I couldn't help thinking of the scene the diners and workers in the restaurant must carry with them still... a vision which is fixed, stuck, non-erasable. Better by far, my darling, for them to have had you, ass-over-teakettle, alive and red-faced in the parking lot.





[Tom] [Colophon] [More pK]