sean's 30th...

That is my favorite picture of my friend Sean and me. That was taken at his house in the Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco one day several months ago. Our smiles are genuine...we were laughing our asses off about something, and I actually didn't mean to take the picture. I'm glad I did, though.

The polished metal sphere that's sitting on his floor (that's my shoe in the lower left corner) was a piece of some building's bling that had been removed for some reason or another, and it's actually quite sturdy. You can even sit on it. It's a total Sean thing to have...that's the kind of creative mind he has. He doesn't think he's creative, but he is...on levels he doesn't yet realize. Sean found it at a garage sale in his neighborhood, (total score) and how uses it as a chair for his desk.

Or at least he did...I didn't see it in his room this morning.

Oh yeah...this morning. There's a reason why I spent the night in Bernal Heights last night. I'll fill you in.

The party started last night at Alma, which is located at 22nd and Valencia streets in the Mission District. From their website:

Bienvenidos! Welcome to ALMA.

We are a neighborhood restaurant serving Nuevo Latino cuisine. We offer flavors, wines and spirits from all over the Latin world to be enjoyed in a friendly, comfortable environment. Our food combines familiar and exotic ingredients providing a unique and delicious dining experience.

We chose alma -- Spanish for soul -- to signify the depths to which good food, drink and friendship can satisfy.

hasta pronto!

Totally Sean's kind of place. He's just stylie like that.

Let me tell you about dinner...it was amazing. For starters, I had halibut with shaved onions, fennel, Meyer lemon and mellow garlic chips (and some popcorn for garnish...it totally worked). It was one of the most delicious things that has ever passed my lips (no snickering). Moving on to my appetizer, I had a zesty and tangy plate of black bean soup with a creamy sauce, garnished with chopped scallions. Again...incredible. Still feeling like eating halibut, for my entree, I had a filet of halibut on a bed of aspargus, with sauteed pearl onions, in a creamy asparagus sauce. I had to keep reminding myself to slow down and not shovel it in my mouth as fast as I could...it was that good. Wine was delicous as well, Castillo de Monseran, 2002 (Garnacha) from Cariñena, Spain. Someone remarked the wine's texture in his mouth was reminding him of comfortably lounging around on a fuzzy shag carpet.

Honestly, I agreed. It was an unusual analogy, but an absolutely brilliant one. Tell you what, it was a damn good bottle of wine.

We had another one after that...a bottle of Leyda Reserve, 2003 (Carmenère) from the Colchagua Valley, in Chile. I love Chilean wines, actually...and this one did not disappoint. Afterward for dessert, I had some chocolate cake with coconut crème anglaise & toasted coconut...but the best part of the whole dinner was the bottle of 30 year-old single malt scotch Sean cracked out for his 30th birthday.

He poured me a glass, and toasted me.

It was like liquid gold...and it made my entire body smile from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. I've never had anything quite like it...it was the finest single-malt scotch I've ever tasted in my 34 years. Sean, being the cool cat he is, made sure the waitstaff that served the party of 30 each had a taste. Yet another reason why I like the guy so much.

I got to hang out with Sean's friends and family...tell you what, I've never seen a more intelligent, interesting, and downright groovy bunch of people in my life. Every single person in there was beautiful and fascinating in their own way, and I felt honored to be amongst them. I got to catch up with some old acquaintences, find out what's been going on, and get a business card or two.

After dinner, the guys said goodnight to their girlfriends, and we sauntered across the street to a local watering hole for more cocktails, billiards, and [heterosexual] male bonding. Since I was relying on BART to get me back to North Beach, I bid everyone farewell, and walked a few blocks in the pouring rain to the 24th Street BART station. Well, banff me right in the ass...I missed the last train downtown (it pulled away as I ran down the stairs) so I weighed my options as I walked back out of the station.

A dilapidated and graffiti-tagged 14 Mission came rolling up, and to be honest...it wasn't a viable option. There's no WAY I was going to take that nasty, stinky, disgusting, urine-and-puke-filled vehicle masquerading as "public transportation" in San Francisco. Well, maybe I'm being harsh, but I've had a few bad experiences on the 14...one of which involved a gun, another with bodily fluids, and yet another...a knife.

I don't want to talk about it.

My only other option was to go back to the bar and re-join the celebration. I knew I'd hate myself in the morning, but I was secretly glad I had an excuse to be irresponsible and go hang out with my friends.

As I walked back in, they all greeted me enthusiastically, and a "Surfer On Acid" shot was placed into my hand.

Sean was really happy to see me. "Crashing at my place?" he asked.

"Yeah, I missed the last BART downtown, and I'm not taking the goddamn 14 back to North Beach."

"No kidding, fuck that shit. I sure as fuck wouldn't take the 14 all the way back downtown, not at this time of night, at least."

"So I figured, it's your 30th birthday, so why the fuck not, ya know?"

You see, that's how guys talk to each other in bars. Lots of "fuck" and "shit" and "cocksucking fucktard motherfuckers" thrown about with wild abandon. It's what straight guys do (I was the only homo) in bars. Cuss, fart, pee, drink, play pool, brag about penis size, and talk about titties and pounding the vag.

"I'm glad you came back." Sean smiled. "You know, I'm so incredibly lucky."

"Why?" I asked, not sure where he was going with that statement.

"You know, my cellphone is filled with the phone numbers of the most amazing, intelligent, creative, brilliant people I've ever met in my entire life." He almost looked like he was going to cry. That was heavy. "I'm so fortunate to know and be friends with you guys."

"Wow, thanks." I kind of smiled through a lump building in my throat.

He ended the tender moment, shook his shoulders, and collected himself. "Hey Chad, will ya do me a favor?"

"What's that, man?" I asked.

"Do something about this horrible music, talk to the bartender, and get me AND yourself a drink."

"You've got it." I had no idea what was playing at that particular moment, but I too was irritated by the incessant caterwauling that was assaulting my sensitive cochleas (cochlei?). I cornered the bartender in the ladies room (unintentionally...I thoguht it was the mens' room) and asked if she could put on some decent tunes. I mean, if I wanted to recreate the sound of a Mercury Grand Marquis transmission being shredded by doing donuts on dry pavement by some punk-ass high school kid from Parma, Ohio, I'd do it my damn self with a stolen taxicab.

'Nuff said.

Smiling at me, the bartender threw on some Ella Fitzgerald, and as the velvety tones of her amazing voice filled the room, a different sort of atmosphere permeated every nook and cranny of that bar.

After a few more cocktails and some really good shots on the pool table, I stood back and surveyed the crowd. It was one of the coolest, funkiest, grooviest bunch of people I've hung out with in a long time. There it was...a rainy night in the Mission...a bunch of friends hanging out at 1 AM on a weeknight, drinking and playing pool, in an ancient bar that looked like it was right out of the 1940's. I felt incredibly lucky to be Sean's friend...he's truly one of the most amazing people I've ever met, and he points out and helps me realize exactly how much potential I have as a person. You just don't meet people like that every day.

Smiling on the inside and out, I couldn't think of anywhere else I would rather have been at that moment.



At 07:08, Blogger Scott W said...

You and your writing are absolutely charming.

At 08:07, Blogger Brechi said...

that is the coolest post i have read all week. i'm going to put a link to it on my page today. here's to friends like sean!

At 09:15, Anonymous R-R said...

Yo Chad, surfed on through via Brechi's page. You've got an awesome way with words. Gotta start digging through your archives. ;)

P.S. Love the random signs. LOL.

At 14:18, Blogger teh l4m3 said...

Awwww. Too sweet.

At 15:30, Anonymous jesse said...

great post chad:

sounds like you have some really great friends. you did a superb job of capturing the moment and sharing it with your readers.

it felt like i was there with the beautiful and intelligent people!

At 17:07, Blogger ClaudBLOG said...

Surfed onto your blog by accident and I'm glad I did. Loving it.

At 22:34, Blogger D.T. said...

Wait...how does Sean use it as a chair? Doesnt it roll around?

BTW, the next time I'm in San Fran, y'all gotta take me to that Alma place. It sounds totally delish!

And then I also wanna check out that bar too and maybe meet your friend Sean.

I mean, if he likes to meet amazing, intelligent, creative, and brilliant people, well then, hello?!

LOL...just leave out that whole "conceited" part, k? K...


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