February 22, 2001
Clean Living Makes Lousy *Copy*


My mother and David's mother loathed each other on sight.

It was clear from the moment the two of them first set eyes on each other last night.
As we stood outside the restaurant, I watched them exchange a limp, insincere handshake ... I heard the thinly-veiled contempt in their voices, as they secretly eyeballed each other's shoes/earrings/handbags/dinner dates ... I watched them subtly jockeying for the best position at the dinner table ("Won't the sun be in your eyes if you sit facing the water, Mrs. B?" "Not if YOU are sitting in front of me, Mrs. D") ... and I knew we were in for a rocky evening.

Things grew steadily worse as the evening progressed. My mother 'accidentally' forgot Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡'s first name  ...  all night long. David's mother 'accidentally' knocked over my mother's cup of coffee. Twice. Neither one of them would address the other directly: it was, 'Secra, would you please ask David's Mother to pass the sourdough loaf when she's finished licking it?' ... and 'David, would you be so kind as to ask Secra's Mother to remove her hand from your father's knee?'

The next thing I knew, my mother was lunging across the table, brandishing her salad fork like a machete, while Mrs. Ю僱êrvØ¡ shrieked 'HE'S TOO GOOD FOR HER!  HE'S TOO GOOD FOR 

"HOLD IT!" David interjects in horror. "You can't write it that way!"

When I ask him why?  -- does he not understand the concept of literary license? dramatic tension? using cheap plot devices to jack up counter stats? -- he points out the obvious: I can't write it this way because it didn't actually happen this way. (Also because both of our mothers are likely to read this particular journal entry, at some point in the not-so-distant future.  In which case, *we* will have a great deal of explaining to do.)

"Can I say that your dad and my mother's boyfriend duked it out in the men's room before dessert?," I ask hopefully.

"No," he says firmly. "Write it as it really happened: our mothers got along just fine, everybody had a good time, dinner was great, and the evening was a complete success."

Yeah. OK. That'll win me a Pulitzer.

With a sigh, I return to the keyboard to try again.

The evening might not have been so bad if we hadn't picked such a dumpy, depressing hole-in-the-wall for this Big Dinner with our parents.  Frankly, I've eaten in veterinary waiting rooms with better service ...  AND better food.

Our surly adolescent waitress deliberately seated us in the *Screaming-Infants-with-Cigars-and-Cell-Phones* section of the restaurant ... and then promptly dropped off the face of the planet for the next hour and a half. The lighting was terrible, the Diet Coke was flat, my chair was missing a leg (so was my entree, come to think of it)  ... the polka band refused to play my request ("We don't know 'Bohemian Like You,' ma'am," said the accordian player. "How about 'Don't Mess With My Toot Toot'?") ...

... at one point I discovered what looked like a toenail clipping in my Petaluma Chicken

"Now that's just plain wrong!" David sputters indignantly. "You loved that restaurant!"

OK ... technically that's true. I do love Scott's at Jack London Square. But how scintillating would this journal entry be if I tell my readers that? I mean, seriously: who wants to hear that we had dinner in an elegant, four-star restaurant overlooking Oakland's waterfront, with a spectacular sunset view, flawless service and world-class cuisine?

"It's more interesting when I complain about stuff," I whine.

But David is still wearing his big Disapproving Frowny Face.  Our motto here in the SecraTerri/Ю僱êrvØ¡ household is *We Write What We Live & We Live What We Write (Except Maybe For That Stuff About Cloning Roy Orbison In Our Bathtub)* -- and I know I'm going to have to take one last crack at straddling that fine line between reality and embellishment.

Once again, I begin to type.

The evening was a total fiasco, from start to finish ... and it was all my fault.

What can I tell you? I was feeling beaten-down yesterday by the sheer, unrelenting poopiness of this week. Between the ants, the rain, the ongoing sinus problems, all of the 72 Hrs. From Hell hormonal nonsense ... the oozing blister on my right little toe ... not to mention enforced labor in Reception Area Hell for the past four days ... I have been a walking/talking/ticking/tocking emotional time bomb, all week long. And now here I was, sitting in an uncomfortable restaurant chair, wearing an uncomfortable suit (and hideously uncomfortable shoes), expected to make polite uncomfortable chitchat for the next forty-five minutes to an hour. Preferably without dribbling anything down the front of my uncomfortable blouse.

"Screw it," I said to our waitress. "Bring me a gin fizz ... and make it a triple." By the end of dinner I was nude from the waist down and laying face-down in a pool of my own

"OK, that's IT," David says in exasperation. "Move over. I'm writing this journal entry for you." And he gently pulls me out of the computer chair and sits down in front of the keyboard.

Fifteen minutes later ... he is still sitting here. I peer expectantly over his shoulder at the monitor. He hasn't added a single word to the narrative.

"Not so easy, is it?" I jeer affectionately.

That's the trouble with clean living, functional relationships, fine restaurants and wonderful parents: they make day-to-day life a lot nicer, a lot healthier, a lot more fun .... but they make lousy *copy* for an Internet journal, sometimes.

one year ago: the calm after the storm

before i have to kill somebody ...
help bring back Fast Lane Tea!
[tell 'em SECRA sent you]

throw a rock