Another glorious day off. Do some laundry for the apartment – all the kitchen and bathroom towels. Laundry gives me the excuse to do anything else I want, because I’m accomplishing a chore at the same time. Decide to finish watching that Christmas episode of My So-Called Life. I’m crying at the end, can’t believe how sad this is! It’s really good, though. Then I clean the upstairs bathroom. There’s something about cleaning around the holidays – I feel like I have to clean before Christmas. No one is even coming to our place but I still need it to look presentable. At home, we’ve always had people over on Christmas, so if I hear a vacuum running in December, I think of Christmas.
While the laundry is in the dryer I watch the Christmas episode of Family Ties – not their best episode. Head downstairs and Troy and I watch A Christmas Story while I fold the laundry. (See how the laundry gives you the freedom to do whatever you want?) Have Ramen and a grilled cheese for lunch.
Troy goes for a run and I shower, then we get ready to meet Tara and Rich in Santa Monica. We head to Father’s Office at 5pm – right when they open. People are already waiting outside to get in. This place is pretty small, and it gets jam packed. Tara walks up while we’re waiting – Rich will be a little late because he’s coming from work. “This place has the best burgers in LA. They’re so good.” Really? Yea, OK, I’ll believe it when I taste it. “But you can’t get anything extra like ketchup or anything.” Hold the phone. No ketchup? I love ketchup. I put it on everything and then some. I put it on my burger, then I put a big pile on the side for dipping. Put it on fries. Put it on eggs. Put it on steak (if I have to eat it: not a big fan). Put it on hotdogs (mustard too, of course). Dip my grilled cheese in it. I love ketchup. No ketchup on my burger? That’s blasphemy. “I love ketchup, too, but you don’t need it on this burger. It’s so good without it.”
They open the doors and we head in. It’s narrow, with tables on either side and a bar to the back-right. Amazing beers on tap, and so many. It’s been a while since I had a beer, and I can’t pass it up. Tara and I go for the Anchor Christmas Ale on draft. This comes out every year and the recipe is always a little different. It’s a dark, rich ale brewed with cloves and nutmeg – quite tasty. Troy gets Drake’s 1500 American Pale Ale. We sit at a table and wait for Rich. I brought a Christmas present for Tara and tell her she has to open it now. That sucks – I hate when people make me open gifts in front of them. What if you hate it? You still have to act like it’s the most wonderful thing you’ve ever received. I’m not worried, though, I know she’ll love it. I didn’t have many people to buy for this year. I didn’t send any presents home except for my family polyanna. Tara and Rich have been so amazing to us: inviting us out the first nights we were here, having us over Thanksgiving, and now inviting us over for New Year’s. If we didn’t have them here I think I might be miserable.
I really wasn’t expecting much from Tara. She has always been Mike’s connection out here. We knew each other, but were never friends. Even when we were coming out here and Mike would talk to me about Tara and her fiance, Rich, I felt so disconnected from it. Now I feel so lucky. Tara and I are passionate about the same things so we always have good conversations. We’re both kind of old women – we’d rather stay in, drink wine, eat pizza, and watch a movie – than go out to a bar. She knows what I’m going through right now because she’s already been through it. I’m definitely a loner, but if there’s one person I’d like to hang out with – who isn’t a boy – it’s going to be Tara.
She and Rich are in their first home together, so obviously, I got them a Christmas ornament. It’s a snow couple standing in front of a palm tree with Christmas lights on it. Underneath says, Christmas in Topanga, 2011. Tara loves it. “I think I’m going to cry! This is our first ornament!” Yes! Score. I was afraid a lot of people would be getting them ornaments for their first home. I threw in a bottle opener and some cookies I made the night before, but the ornament is the real gift. I love giving presents. Rich arrives and I just adore him. Mike first showed me pictures of him on fb right before we drove out – he had met Rich when he and Sonny came out for a week to find us a place to live. Just from the pictures, I thought I would like him. He just looked nice. He IS. And funny, too. And just up for anything. If you want to do anything he’ll want to do it – and not just in a polite way – in a way where you feel like if you didn’t think of the idea, he would have been the one to say it next. He orders us some appetizers we have to try – brussels sprout and spicy olives. Both are awesome.
Then we all get burgers. Everyone gets medium. Medium well for me! I hate that I can’t eat a burger the proper way. I know, I know, steak should be medium rare, medium at the most. I hate bloody meat. I get up to order us another round of drinks – beer for the boys and some wine for me and Tara. By the time I get back, food is on the table. That is the BEST. It doesn’t look like a normal burger. The bun is more like a roll so the burger almost looks like a sandwich, cut in half. Tara is talking about an idea she has for a feature. I listen as I take my first bite. Tara’s words become noise. All I can concentrate on is the taste in my mouth. It’s juicy, melt in your mouth deliciousness with a bite of gorgonzola. OMG, Tara, I’m sorry (to interrupt you), but this burger is phenomenal. “I know, right!” It really is the best burger I’ve ever had in my life. There’s some kind of barbecue sauce on it or SOMETHING, with grilled onions, arugula, and some kind of gorgonzola. No ketchup needed. Ketchup would ruin this burger and take away from all its amazing flavors. On the menu, it says no substitutions of anything. You can’t even say, “No onions.” It comes the way it comes. I respect that about a place. I hate when customers try to change everything. The chef makes it that way for a reason, you idiot! We all talk about ideas for movies and three hours seem to pass in 20 minutes. Rich and Tara pay for the majority of the bill and I feel like a charity case even though Tara doesn’t really let us feel that way. She remembers when she was in our shoes and wishes someone was there for her. I love her for it.
Say goodbye and Merry Christmas to each other. If we don’t see you this week we’ll see you New Years’ Eve. I have to work but as soon as I get done I’m driving to Topanga to be with my California family: Mike, Troy, Rich, and Tara. Curse myself for not taking any pictures at Father’s Office. I constantly think about material for my blog but I’m not good with the visuals.