Many years ago Jonette and I decided to take a long weekend in Northern California. We would see the Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco, and the Napa Valley to take some winery tours. Jonette had an old high school girlfriend who lived in the bay area, she was a caterer, that bit becomes important later on. Jonette’s friend, I will call her Alice since I have long forgotten her name, offered to drive us around and be our tour guide and pay for our food and such. Perfect we will not need a car.
We fly into San Francisco on Thursday evening and get a room in a fleabag motel near the airport. Alice promised us that she and her husband Bob were early risers and would be there in the morning to pick us up and head to Monterey and then to San Francisco. Jonette and I wake up at around 8 am ready to start our day. We get ready and call Alice and Bob, no answer. So we wait. Around 11AM we get in touch with them and they are just getting out of bed. Is early something different in the bay area? We have spent the first morning of our vacation sitting in our room at a fleabag motel and eating a mediocre breakfast at a local dive across the street.
At about 12:30 Alice and Bob pull up and we pile into their Lexus SUV. We think “ok now onto Monterey to see the fish and the otters. I am told they have otters and they are not to be missed. Off we go, or so we thought. Alice had other plans to make sure we have a fun filled day, she wants to show us her business first. She fumbles with the 3 cellphones sitting in the center console to call her staff and tell her she is coming in. She informs us that 2 of the phones are broken and no longer work. Jonette and I think that she should throw the two broken ones out. We spend about an hour sitting on some concrete steps as she has a meeting with her co-workers. Jonette attempts to entertain herself by reading a Martha Stewart cook book.
Meeting is over, Yay off to see the otters and fish and sharks and other cool fishy stuff! But wait, Alice now needs to go to the grocery store. Alice says that we will love Trader Joe’s and we must experience the awesomeness. I am not sure what is so awesome about it, looks like my local Safeway. After another hour or so we are back on the road to Monterey.
We get to the aquarium, slide up to the admissions window and Alice slaps down her expired membership card. We have to get the 3 dollar discount she purrs. The ticket sales person states that the membership had expired some years ago. Alice decides to start arguing with the poor girl. Jonette and I shuffle off to another window and purchase our tickets. I note that the aquarium closes at 4pm. It is 3pm. I have 1 hour to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Jonette and I explore for about 20 minutes before Alice finds us, she had purchased another membership and was upset that we did not stick around to listen to her argue with the ticket person. There were fish in a kelp forest, a shark tank, a tank with lots of jelly fish in it. There was also a display about how they can tag and track sharks. Lucky for us the otters were fed at 3:30 so I did get a chance to see them. I left with a large stuffed otter. I still have it. I named it Pop, for Otter Pop, but Jonette insists on calling him Sealy even though it is not a seal.
We get back into the Lexus, pick up her husband Bob and head out for San Francisco. Alice made dinner reservations for us at some fancy restaurant on top of one of the buildings there. I no longer remember the name of the place. Getting there was interesting. We drove past Haight Ashbury , and drive down Lombard street. Bob was driving and all Alice could do is complain about the traffic. I expressed an interest in seeing China Town. So we “drove past” it. Driving past things became a theme all weekend. Nothing is better than getting a quick glance at something like China Town from the back seat of a Lexus SUV. Alice refused to let Bob stop. We drive down to Fisherman’s Wharf and Jonette and I now really want out to stretch our legs. Alice refuses to let Bob stop. We drive past Fisherman’s Wharf.
We get to Ghirardelli Square and Bob decides to take over and he pulls into the parking structure. Alice starts to complain loudly about how there are too many people and that there are no parking spaces. We plunge ahead and Alice changes tactics. With a couple fake coughs she starts to complain about the exhaust fumes and how she was suffocating and or being poisoned. We find an open space and Alice immediately claims that it is too small for the Lexus. Bob parks there anyway. Alice then starts to complain about theft. Jonette and I think “yea they will take your broken cell phones.”
We get to the shopping area and in the first store, it was a jewelry store. Alice immediately runs up to the sales clerk and begins to show off her “charm bracelet” I have to say something about this charm bracelet because just like the driving past things it becomes yet another theme for the weekend. The bracelet is an old school type thing but it had hundreds of charms on it. Alice had been collecting them since high school and was extremely proud of them. She started going through them and describing them, not to us the sales clerk. Jonette and I finally get bored; the only real interesting thing in the store was a replica of the Heart of the Ocean, the necklace from Titanic. Yea it was cool but not all that great. It was a piece of costume jewelry. Jonette, Bob and I move onto the next store and begin to properly explore the place.
After about an hour or so it is getting time for our dinner reservations so we find Alice. She is still in the same store going on and on about her damn charm bracelet. The sales clerk looks like she wants to dunk her head in a deep fryer to end her pain. We were just in time to rescue the poor sales clerk. Alice is now mad at the 3 of us because we did not stay to listen to her yammer on about her fantastic charm bracelet. Being mad she starts to take it out on poor Bob. Thus begins a near full weekend of arguments between the two. We get to the parking garage exit and Alice demands that we have to pay because it was our idea to stop. Bob looks mortified but we gladly handed over the money before Bob can intervene and cause even more trouble.
We get to the restaurant and sit down to a nice meal. Alice, the caterer, fancies herself a food expert. I get a fantastic steak but Alice is not happy with her food. She must have sent her food back 3 or 4 times. I still feel for our poor waiter and wonder what surprises he or the cook put in her meal by the 4th delivery. Bob, Jonette and I are all very happy with our meal. It would have been great if not for Alice and her fake pompous attitude. Once the check arrives she decides that she deserves a better discount because her food was so rot gut awful. We get to listen as she has yet another argument with a service employee. I am amazed we were not all thrown out.
We are dropped back off at our fleabag motel. Bob and Alice promise to be back bright and early for the drive into Napa
End Friday of extended weekend vacation.
Stay at fleabag motel, visit to catering company, a visit to Trader Joes, an hour at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, drive down Lombard Street, drive past China Town, drive past Fisherman’s wharf, and hour and a half at Ghirardelli Square, and a dinner ruined by a pompous ass clown. What could happen next?