The day after Osama bin Laden was killed, I saw a comedian do a sketch, on The Daily Show, in an airport. He had a Big Gulp and a machete and he said he was ready to get on an airplane. He appeared crestfallen when Jon Stewart told him that airport security is here to stay. Maybe the machete was a bit much, but I think all of us who travel can relate to that. We wish the terrorists would go away and flying could get back to pre-911 mode.
Toiletries are the worst. The rules about liquids are fuzzy and seem to vary slightly from airport to airport. For sure you can’t just transfer what’s already in your shower into your bag and go. The decision is, do you want to reduce your supply of lotions, shampoos and other essentials down to what will fit into a sandwich bag? Or do will you choose to take as much as you want and pay the hefty new baggage checking fees?
Why do we travel with toiletries at all, though? Every hotel in the world comes with basically everything you need right there in the room. The answer, which we all know, is that what comes in most hotel rooms mostly, for lack of a better word, sucks. Not here, not anymore! From now on, when you’re flying to this hotel, you can leave those cumbersome toiletries behind and rest assured that your hair and skin will be soft, and have the gentle smell of fresh citrus. We’ve got new toiletries!
Eucalyptus trees are weeds. They’re not indigenous to California, but they’re everywhere. And they’re tall and they’re strong and where they decide to grow, other things die.
They’re also very beautiful. Majestic yet waifish, they’ve come to tower over much of our coastline. Their distinct smell reaches further, even, than their spindly branches and to take a hike in Northern California is to bathe yourself in the refreshing shade and scent of eucalyptus trees.
We’re supposed to hate them. We’re told to look down upon whatever Australians infected us, and to mourn the loss of the native flora and fauna that couldn’t hold their ground. But I defy you to take a walk through the trails of San Francisco’s Presidio, for example, as I did just now, and not fall in love with eucalyptus trees by the end of the day.
And, anyway, if I’m going to start hating non-indigenous things whose occupation of space led to the death of native populations, I think I’ll start with skyscrapers.
There’s an ad for Dos Equis beer, maybe you’ve seen it, that stars a tall, dark and handsome man with a not-quite-place-able accent and a lot of stories of adventure. He is, according to this ad, the most interesting man in the world and we’re all supposed to want to be him, or to at least know him, and Dos Equis supposedly a step in the right direction. I fear this guy is probably a narcissistic adrenaline junky, though, and I would like to propose an alternative ideal: The most interested man in the world. Someone, that is, who finds joy and nourishment wherever he is, who is curious and enthusiastic and not merely a jaded experience collector. My candidate for the title? Ed, our weekend bartender.
Let me defend my candidate, first, by saying that there is nothing that I have seen Ed do that he did not do meticulously and beautifully. This includes, but does not stop with, installing a bay window, playing guitar, drawing, reading complex philosophical texts and hiking. If I weren’t so afraid of clichés, I’d call him a renaissance man. To avoid that I will just say that Ed applies every bit of himself to everything he does and he seems to do it out of a desire to suck every bit of knowledge out of every new situation he’s in. He takes nothing for granted, rushes through nothing and he does it all out of genuine interest.
What makes the most interested man in the world superior to the most interesting? Well, given that you and I will probably be neither but will get only to maybe be friends with one or the other, it’s good to remember that, of the two, it’s the most interested man in the world who will pay attention to you. And, because he’s paid such good attention to so many others, he’s got a diverse, complex perspective to bounce back at you. Nice choice for a bartender, no?
The son of a friend of mine recently had an accident. The shower door somehow shattered, shooting shards of broken glass at his naked body at very close range. He’s young and was very scared, but got comfortable when the ambulance arrived because one of the paramedics not only also worked at the little boy’s school, but was the father of one of his playmates too.
That is a small town story, an old-timey story. Most of us these days live in the suburbs and our schoolteachers do not volunteer to drive ambulances at night. Even if we try very hard to stay away from corporate chains and keep very dedicated to the communities that we build, everything around seems to get cleaner and less personal each day.
And so I want to tell you to go to the Golden Mushroom Pizzeria because it’s one little bit of small town charm in the kind of overwhelming suburban sprawl that is the Silicon Valley. I personally feel connected to it because my sister went to school with the owner’s son. You, who are unconnected, can love it because it’s old and dive-y and you can get pitchers of beer for cheap. The pizza is greasy and super delicious when the owner is there. It falls off a little when he’s not around to watch, but order another pitcher and you’ll get over it. This place is old-school, the kind of place Round Table is pretending to be, and maybe once was.
If you want an example of ingenious long term life planning, take a look at the life that Tom Leonardini built. Born in San Francisco, he spent the first part of his life running a series of businesses in his hometown. He learned how things run and he made himself some money. He also raised five children; a team, one might call it. It’s unclear at what age he started teaching the kids about wine, but Katie, the middle daughter, recalls blind taste-testings with the family. As this story is in the section reserved for wine recommendations, maybe you can see where this is going. In 1993, the ground set, Leonardini bought the Whitehall Lane Winery in Napa. By the next year he had a son alongside and soon after a daughter followed. This, it seems to me, is not the average family business story. This is the story of a man who crafted his life so that its second half could be spent surrounded by natural beauty and his children, drinking wine and earning a profit through it all. Nicely played, sir.
We’ve got the product of all that planning here in our bar, and a pretty tasty product it is. Come check it out the next time you’re here with us.