The Road Revisited

Follow Me Around The United States!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Kissing a Fish in Seattle....

I awoke in a fog, pantless, with Ronald McDonald's wallet in my pocket of my crumpled jeans. "Jeez. What a night."

I don't remember how I ended up with Ron's wallet. But it was definitely his, with pictures of he and The Hamburgler at the Space Needle and a driver's license. And some coupons. "I know where I'm eating later," I mused.

I dragged myself to the shower and fielded calls from Tony as I dried my hair. "Where are you?" he asked.
"Getting ready. Did you still want to meet up or whatnot?" I was trying to be casual. I didn't want to give the impression that I liked him "like that".
"Yeah. I'll meet you at Pike Place Market in an hour."
"Sounds good."

Tony lived in a condo up in Washington Square and didn't have a car. I was around the corner from the market so I beat him there by about forty-five minutes. I felt cute and city-like, in green cargo clam-diggers and a black wife-beater. I pinned my bangs back in a tiny bouffant and carried my precious lunchbox down to the busy avenue. The sun warmed the brick and took the chill off the breeze coming from the water. It was Saturday, and the pavement was packed with shoes, strollers, skateboards and dogs. A cruise ship leaving for Alaska bellowed from the dock, shaking the wisps of salt-water present in the air. People waved from the pier to the happy cruisers on deck. I slipped in and out of the crowds, looking at everything, taking in every smell, every detail. Reggae music floated out of a head shop and sweet sugared chocolate smells found their way into noses walking past The Crumpet Shop. My bare shoulders reveled in the sunshine and cooled in the shade as awnings hung in every color but never in tandem. Tourists tried out drums, Chinese fingertraps and fudge samples, laughing and taking pictures. I laughed alongside them. But I was still hung over, so I bought a bottle of water and a two-pack of aspirin and leaned on a parking pole to people-watch. To my miasmatic head, it was rejuvenating.

"No way!" came a shout from behind me.
I turned to look; it was a broad Samoan man in a light blue tee.
"The Six Million Dollar Man? Wow! I remember watching that! What was the guy's name? He was married to Farrah Fawcett."
"Lee Majors?"
"That's it! Yeah! Lee Majors! And who was the girl?"
"Farrah Fawcett?"
"No, the girl, the, um.... Bionic Woman! What was her name?"
"Lindsay Wagner." I have to admit, I was proud for remembering that.
"Really? Then who played Wonder Woman?"
"Linda Carter." Oh, yeah. I was 3-0.
"Yeah! Wow. That's a pretty sweet lunchbox. I had a 'Dukes of Hazzard' one. I wish I still had it."
"Dude, me too! I'd buy that off you. That would be, like, the trifecta for me. I've got an A-Team and a Six Million Dollar Man. Adding the Dukes of Hazzard would be the crown jewel."
We laughed, complete strangers, completely comfortable with each other, brought together by a metal effigy of Lee Majors. Thank you, Aladdin Corporation, for providing me with a lunchbox, and, subsequently, friends.

Eventually, my phone rang. "Where you at?" Tony asked. I could hear the same crowd noise in the receiver as I did in my ear.
"On a parking pole at the end of the street, by the fountain."
"I see you." His salt-and-pepper head appeared, then his Buddy Holly glasses. His gap-tooth smile would have appeared too, but he was more hung over than I was. His brow furrowed as he said, "Damn, it's bright out here."
"Do you feel like Dracula?"
"Ha. Kind of. Not really. Eh, I'm fine. I stayed up 'til, like, six playing poker."
"Dude, what?! Oi! Sucks to be you!"
"Yeah. I do that pretty much every night."
I didn't believe him.
"You hungry? I'll buy you a gyro. Best gyros in town, right over here."

He bought us gyros and cold lemonade from a walk-up window, and we made messes of ourselves at a stone table next to the water. Cucumber yogurt sauce dripped down our chins and onto the ground, sending the sparrows into a frenzy. "This isn't exactly 'polite' food. There is no couth way to eat these, is there?"
"None at all," he assured me.
I threw my trash away, asking, "Where do they throw fish? I want to see people throw fish!"
"Let's walk this way. Ugh. You're such a tourist," Tony teased, rolling his eyes.
"Damn skippy!"

We marched through the aisles of gorgeous fresh flowers, calilillies, gerbar daisies, and hibiscus. People were carrying armfulls of goldenrod and sweet sunflowers, leaving delicious wakes of honey and pollen. I wished I had a place to put flowers. Someday. Soon the heady scents of tulips and mums were replaced by tart waves of shellfish and salmon. The temperature dropped immensely as we entered a room packed on the sides with ice. I watched carefully for airborne fish, whipping my head around so fast I was in danger of hurting myself. With excitement. "It's not here, it's over there," Tony said.
"Then let's go!"

We joined a crowd already gathered around a display of enormous King River salmon on ice-- the best and most expensive kind of salmon in the world. Monkfish and scallops were also packed into the ice wall, and a bearded man in yellow rubber pants, known as "The Bear", stood talking to the crowd. "Throw a fish!" someone shouted from the back. (No, it wasn't me.) The Bear rolled his eyes but obliged, picking up a huge King River salmon and shouting, "This one needs a bath!"

"This one needs a bath!" came a chorus from the young men behind the counter, and the man flung the fish high and to the left, into the waiting hands of a hot guy in yellow rubber gloves. The crowd gasped and applauded, and flashes went off like paparazzi. The men continued throwing fish back and forth, singing low and steady, "This one needs a bath! This one needs a bath!" When the air show was over, The Bear called over a petite, shy girl and ordered her to kiss the salmon. For the camera, she did. Then I did. And it was magical.


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