Ritual Attempt #2

Dear Future Stella,

The search continued for a weekly Monday tradition for us. Last week’s attempt was less than successful so this week I wanted to get out of our neighborhood. The problem with our neighborhood is that you have been to all the restaurants so many times that it would be hard to take over all your associations with them and have it just be “our place.” However, the problem with leaving our neighborhood is that it might become too tedious of an adventure to do every single week, but I was willing to try it. I also decided to leave the dogs out of the ritual because finding a place with outside seating severely slims down our options. This week I picked a restaurant called Starbelly in the Castro (in case it isn’t anymore, the Castro is where the Gays like to congregate). To get there, we had to take a 40 minute bus ride. It’s the same bus that we take every morning to school, except instead of getting off after 10 minutes, we stayed on for much longer. Our usual bus experience involves going from one nice neighborhood to another nice neighborhood. On most days there are maybe 5 other people on the bus and we rarely come across suspicious activity- it’s all very PG. This ride was very different and was a reminder to myself why I pay a stupid amount of money to live in a small apartment just to raise you in the city. Seeing this kind of diversity creates many teachable moments and plenty of opportunities for you to ask inappropriate questions, thus allowing me to give even more inappropriate answers. This did not happen today though, and instead I was humbled by your genuine lack of judgement for people who are incredibly different from you. While I was busy rotating my rings so that the stones were hidden, clutching my purse tighter to my body and exclusively breathing through my mouth to avoid any unpleasant smells, you were smiling at everyone and told one enormous, obviously crazy woman that you liked her nail polish. Her polish was sparkly blue and totally chipping off her nails that I’m guessing have not been trimmed in years. It’s moments like then that make me so incredibly glad that I didn’t give you up for adoption.

When we arrived at our stop and got off the bus we had a 2 block walk to the restaurant. After maybe 6 seconds you asked me how many more steps until we are there. I don’t know Stella, is that something that exists now? An app that tells you how many steps exactly until you arrive at your destination? If so, then I hope you created it. I also hope it can tell you which method of attaining ice cream takes the least amount of steps and/or effort. You went on to say your feet hurt and that you don’t think you can walk any longer. I took this time to remind you that you are 4 and should have more stamina and lasting power than an 18 year old boy with Viagra at a whore house. You didn’t get the reference so I suggested taking you to the doctor to see if maybe it would be better to amputate both legs so you could just use a wheelchair from now on. I made a mental note that if we go this route to do it before Disneyland next week so we get to the front of all the lines. You hated this idea and began to cry. Jeez, you are so easy to wind up. I told you that I was joking, baffled that I even had to do that, and tried to distract you by pointing out interesting things to look at while we walked. We finally arrived, but not without you making at least 3 more comments about how exhausted you were and how bad your feet hurt.

We met my work husband, Daniel, at Starbelly because he lives around the corner and it’s like pulling teeth to get him to come to our neck of the woods. He immediately pointed out that having a deep side part with short hair must be the new look for hot restaurant wait staff. I couldn’t help but laugh because just that morning your dad started parting his hair on the side. Whether accidental or intentional, your dad always knows what the gays like. I perused the menu and started to get this panicked feeling because I didn’t really see anything on the menu that would be a slam dunk for you. I decided to order the cheese plate because with roughly 1000 varieties of cheese available in the world, the chance of this nondescript cheese plate having the 3 kinds that you will actually eat is higher than the chance of you trying anything else on the menu. We also ordered a margarita pizza. Pizza has had little success making its way into your digestive system, a fact I find so incredibly shameful. While we waited for our food we colored in your Keith Haring coloring book, a strategic move on my part that I hope conveyed our enthusiastic love for the gay community to the patrons of the restaurant.

Our food arrived and you immediately looked disappointed. On the wooden board that was almost the length of our table contained 3 servings of cheese varieties I could tell you were not going to touch. Also on the board: micro fine shavings of apples, some unidentified dried fruit that had been sliced and arranged in the shape of a flower, a handful of almonds, some sort of grainy mustard, a dribble of what I later discovered is spiced apple sauce, and 3 slices of toasted bread. You took the apple shavings and announced that you didn’t want anything else. Eyeing the full bottle of wine that just arrived at our table, I began the negotiations. I somehow managed to get you to try a bit of the hard white cheese on the plate which prompted an almost immediate dry-heaving reaction. The closest you came to trying the dried fruit was a quick lick at which point you returned the wet item to the community cheese plate. Daniel made this horrified expression and I almost began the debate about which is grosser- a previously licked unidentified piece of dried fruit or anal sex but I quickly decided this wasn’t the venue nor the company. I scraped off everything from a bite of pizza and offered you that. You shockingly ate it and asked for more. You requested a piece without the leaf on it (basil). I began the terrible job of cutting up a piece of pizza, an act that should be forbidden in my opinion. Not even 4 seconds later you declared you don’t like pizza and I was equally annoyed with your pickiness as I was with the reality that I would never get the 10 minutes I spent lovingly cutting your pizza back. Knowing that this will never be our ritual, I allowed you to play on my phone at your request- mostly because Daniel and I had a lot of ground to make up in the wine department and also because I felt guilty that I had failed again.
Daniel told you he knew of a candy shop around the corner and he asked you if you liked candy. Considering the fact that you just rejected pizza, it was a valid question. Your little eyes lit up and you vigorously nodded yes. We finished our wine, split the tab and headed out, leaving behind a slew of boys with side parts obviously checking me out as I walked past.
The candy shop was so damn adorbs and so obviously decorated by gays. It was perfection. It was one of those places where the candy was separated in individual canisters and you got to pick out what you wanted and place it in a bag that was then measured by the pound.
*If for some reason eating candy is considered highly toxic and cancer causing, equivalent to smoking black tar heroin or eating a nonorganic strawberry then 1) I’m deeply sorry and 2) I would be worried that you are riddled with cancer. Like go to the doctor. It’s probably really serious. You eat a ton of candy.

On the way home we stopped at Daddy’s work to say hi and I knew he would be finishing up soon and that meant we could get a ride home. All in all it wasn’t terrible but it also wasn’t exactly perfect for our weekly ritual. We will keep looking.

Future Stella, I love you. Current Stella, seriously? You don’t like pizza!?!

Mom

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Here you are out front of Starbelly

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With Daniel inside the candy shop Giddy in the Castro

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Showing off at Daddy’s work

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