#20 In Roads-Two-fer
Today will be “two-fer Tuesday” since I asked to take George’s picture but he refused unless I took Thor’s also, so you get more for your money today. Besides, it feels like cheating to count these as total strangers since I think neither of these men ever met a stranger in their lives so the two-for-one seems fair. George asks how we like our food then launches into a tirade. He’s a frustrated California businessman who is blown away by how anti-business the state really is. In the course of reopening a long-closed restaurant he discovered how ridiculous the government can be.
“I needed to replace a toilet here and I’m told I need a permit. For a toilet. Know what was even worse? The refrigerator went out. I mean, roll it out, unplug it, and plug in a new one. That’s it. I had to get a permit for that, too. Seriously. It’s so crazy. Why does it all have to be so hard and so expensive? Have you ever heard of this: I needed new patio furniture so, I pay the sales tax when I purchase it, now that I am using the furniture that I bought, I have to pay a use tax, too. Yes, I am actually taxed for using my furniture. Who ever heard of such a thing? It’s insane! I had a restaurant in Arizona and it was nothing like this,” George stands shaking his head in complete befuddlement. He tells us he sold the Phoenix place to move here and has been questioning the wisdom of that move since wrestling with local bureaucracy. He’s gotten himself pretty worked up and taps a beer to mellow out.
Thor, bartender extraordinaire, has worked for George since the opening and thoroughly enjoys his job. He also moonlights down the road at a Mexican restaurant where he’s been slinging drinks for several years. The locals love him. Our new friend was born in the south of France, speaks fluent French, English and Spanish and builds a mean bloody Mary. He ministers well to the country club crowd as well as to us scooter tramps though we watch as his demeanor fluctuates between the clientele. Polite and attentive to those down the bar, he spends his free time laughing with us as he conducts an impromptu French lesson. We’re trying to learn cuss words and he’s focused on teaching us to say, “You are a little bitch” in addition to the usual two-word insults that we prefer. He also includes the hand and head motions that must accompany a French verbal attack. Our teacher writes out the assignments and comes back frequently to giggle over our recital where we thoroughly massacre his native language. He asks if I’d like more iced tea and I wave my hand at him and give him a surly “baisez-vous,” complete with head waggle. “Oh,” Thor responds with mock shock, “that was very good.” With that I went to the head of the class and our French lesson was over.