Talk on the road

In a blast from the past, I’m on a side trip doing Infopeople work.  On arrival, San Bernardino was hot (100) and smoggy yesterday afternoon, the freeway clogged by an overturned truck.  In short, San Bernardino at its most ut.

My day was littered with other people’s loud and onesided conversations, beginning with the elderly woman on the AirBART bus who treated all of us to the recipe for salad dressing she was called upon to recite by her cellphone caller.  She seemed to be the intuitive sort of cook who adds dribs and drabs of whatever’s on hand–in this case she called for “any kind of yogurt and a slug of nutmeg–while her interlocutor seemed to be wanting to nail down specifics.  (I, too, admittedly, was curious about what a slug of nutmeg might be).

On the plane, the decidedly retro offering of peanuts nearly killed my seatmate, who, after she’d cleared her windpipe, told me in detail about the lesson she’d just learned: don’t put the whole bag of peanuts in your mouth at once and wait until your beverage has been served.  I did not say “duh,” as my mother raised me a bit better than to show all my cards.

After a very smooth–and comparatively brief–trip, I found a shuttle to the hotel with miraculous rapidity.  Many’s the time I have stood on the “ground transportation” island at Ontario Airport for what seems to be decades, but not yesterday.  The shuttle driver was listening to a Riverside-based talk show that was, rather predictably, on about gay marriage.  “I gotta have my afternoon entertainment,” he explained.  I wasn’t sure which part was entertaining him; the whole panel seemed to be screaming at each other throughout the ride.

Although I had had plans to go all the way across the street (bizarrely named Hospitality) to find supper, the heat made it easy for me to forego that outing and stay in the hotel, especially once I discovered an eggplant dish on the menu. The dining room was far from crowded but I had been seated one table over from the reincarnation of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz, who went at it like gangbusters throughout the meal. The running conversational theme seemed to involve fishcakes, not hardly something I expected in the desert.

On the other hand, my waiter also was a chatterbox.  He highly approved of my meal selection and told me in glowing detail of how he had given the recipe to his sister.  What was missing, for interpretation’s sake, was whether his sister was the restaurant chef–which would make him responsible for the delightful dish before me–or whether he had told the restaurant’s secret recipe to his sister as an outsider.  Neither need nor chance to ask since the waiter, like so many others yesterday, seemed hellbent on talking, not conversing.


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