Curtis told me the previous night, “How long are you staying? A few weeks?”
I laughed, overwhelmed by his generosity, and said, “No, no…just a few days.”
“Man, you can stay as long as you want,” he assured me. He made me feel very much at home, and it was nice to be in the company of a fellow Georgian. Curtis told me he was going to have an ‘End of Summer’ cook-out for all his friends on Saturday, and he wanted to celebrate the end of my bike tour. His neighbor Cathy and her daughter Ashley came over to help us with some yard work to prep for the cook-out.
Everyone in Curtis’s neighborhood is pretty sociable with one another. Homeowners tend to congregate in the cul-de-sac while their kids play out in their front yards. John, one of the neighbors, had an old car in a show that weekend, so we all went to downtown Novato to give him some support.
I walked up and down the street looking at cars, not really knowing what was what. “Whoah, this is a 19XX model,” someone would say. “Look at that finish!” I would look, nod, and say ‘cool’. I have zero knowledge about vintage cars (or all cars at all for that matter). They’re just not interesting or impressive to me. For me, they’re hunks of metal to get me from Point A to Point B. I couldn’t care less what year it was manufactured or how many horses it has under the hood.
Curtis told me John’s car wins an award whenever it is entered into a contest. Even though I knew jack shit about his car, it did look pretty sleek.
bolinas, a town of annoying kewl wannabe’s
Curtis felt like getting out of Novato and going on a day trip to somewhere interesting. The destination: Bolinas. Bolinas is a town tucked away in a lagoon 10 miles to the northwest of the Golden Gate Recreational Area. Its ocean waters are home to some of the highest concentrations of Great White Sharks in the world. The people of Bolinas don’t like their place thought of as a tourist location, so the locals notoriously tear down street signs that lead to the town. Jared, Bob’s roommate in Arcata, warned me that they’re pretty malicious to outsiders. He told me that one time he camped on the Bolinas beach, and a few locals banged on his tent and yelled for him to get out of there. He didn’t go anywhere. They were just acting like dicks and trying to get a rise out of him.
Cole, Cathy, and her kids all came with us. Trapped in the tiny back seat of Curtis’s SUV, I started getting nauseous on Route 1 once again. Thankfully, Curtis let me drive the rest of the way.
We all went to the one restaurant in town. The food was great, but everything was at a premium price because all the ingredients were organic. And they were the only restaurant in town. Just looking at the servers and the people at the restaurant reminded me of Atlanta’s Little Five Points, and not in a good way. This was the ‘kewl’ spot in this area, where people wanted to look like an artisan, vagabond, or musician. It was pretty annoying and came off as pretentious.
Our waitress was terrible and had a huge attitude. I guess she has the liberty to treat customers like crap because there is nowhere else to eat in town. That and she looked really cool and different. Curtis has a big personality and likes to joke around with people, so naturally he joked around with the waitress when she came to the table.
“Let me guess your name…is it Bertha?” he said playfully. I wasn’t sure how the name Bertha popped into his head. When I think of that name, the big fat fish from Mario comes to mind.
“Oh, is that a cheesy way to find out your waitress’s name?” she said with her back to him. She was getting some drink pitchers for another table, and Curtis was just trying to get her attention so that he could make a change to his order.
She had some other bitchy remarks throughout the rest of the meal and flaunted her unadultered pretentious attitude. She brought Curtis wine when he asked for beer (I don’t know how that happened), and she insisted that he was in the wrong.
After dinner, we all went to the beach. I wanted to sit down with some grungy hipsters and talk about the local indie music scene but later decided against it.
Curtis’s friend Diane invited us to a chocolate party at her house. Sounded good. Jude and Sean, the stalking duo I stayed with in Eugene, Oregon, were headed back home from San Francisco and stopped by to see me in Novato. Curtis insisted that they go to the chocolate party with us.
We walked into Diane’s house and saw a table full of chocolate. Everything in some way involved chocolate in the recipe. After a few hours of talking and eating, nearly everyone felt disgusting. I felt like I had to have a salad just to let my body know I wasn’t in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
It wasn’t until a few hours later that the headache subsided and I agreed to go play a game of tag outside with the neighborhood kids. The game had some sort background story revolving around monkeys and gorillas. I can’t really remember how it was relevant, but all I know is that I whooped some ass in tag. I started to get really into it, and at one point I had to tag all four kids before they touched base. The last kid was about to hit base with their foot, so I stupidly made a dive to touch their ankle. I guess I forgot I was on asphalt. The kids were laughing, and my hand was bleeding. And I didn’t make the tag.
That weekend, Curtis had a huge cookout for all his friends and neighbors. About 80 people showed up, and Curtis was able to feed them all for around $100. Pretty good. Ribs, vegetables, potatoes, steaks, desserts, and drinks. When people showed up, Curtis would announce them as if they were royalty. When some of his shyer guests arrived, he would announce them and offer a piece of background information on them. That way, his more talkative guests would have some starting point for conversation with them, leaving the shy guests unable to retreat to a corner and remain awkwardly silent.
Two days later, Curtis, his friend Arden, and I were all invited to another cookout at Jean-Luc’s house. I felt like I was getting the royal treatment in Novato. It was easy to talk to people once they found out where I was from and how I got to Novato. It felt good to have a story define who you were in that moment.
There was a French kid there that thought giving peace signs was still cool.
Later that night, I made my special dish.
Yo Curtis and Arden, you got BROWNED! (Note that Curtis is too busy for browning. He’s all business.)