Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Traveling through another dimension

Last week I convinced my wife to go Alejo's Italian Restaurant on Lincoln Blvd.

We used to frequent the place quite often, as the bread is fresh baked and there's never a long wait to get a table. My two most important criteria for picking a restaurant in Los Angeles.

However, Alejo's has fallen out of favor recently, its frumpy dining room no longer as appetizing as it once was when my wife and I were escorting two screaming toddlers.

And yet, through the power of persuasion and some well-honed marital passive aggressiveness, I was able to convince my wife to go back to Alejo's. Their chopped salad is second to none. And this is what a successful marriage is all about. Compromise. Give and take.

She agrees to cheap Italian food.
I agree to give up a weekend to shop for new an inordinately-expensive living room furniture.

On the way to the restaurant, it was raining. Not newsworthy in any other part of the country, but here in Southern California I've seen more water coming out of my neighbor's hose, in order to wash his two white trash monster trucks, than I've seen fall from the sky.

Hugging the median of Jefferson Blvd., I slowed down because the woman in the Honda Civic in front of me appeared to be making a left turn.

But then, she wasn't.

At 50+ mph the car veered left and then, a split second later, veered right. She missed the road sign by a centimeter. And then, in the middle of fast moving traffic she slammed on the brakes and parked the car in the fast lane. The door swung open and the driver leapt from the car, hunched over and appeared to be returning her lunch to Mother Earth.

I stopped too. I had no other option.

And before I could look in my rearview mirror for oncoming traffic, my wife had jumped out of the car and ran to assist Mrs. Mario Andretti.

I've never needed hazard lights before and despite the superb Japanese ergonomic design on my old Lexus, could not locate my flashers. So I quickly skedaddled over to the right. And because there is no shoulder on Jefferson Blvd., I had to find the nearest street to turn off and park the car. About 1/4 mile away.

I ran through the uneven sidewalks, which is more like a lunar landscape thanks to the roots of Chinese Elm trees bursting through the pavement. And I caught a mouthful of dirty rainwater when a truck rolled by and tore through a puddle that would not be there 364 other days of the year.

When I reached the spot where my wife was, she wasn't.

And neither was the Honda Civic.

I yelled her name in the pouring rain.

She was gone.

I ran back to my car. Called her cell phone. And then I heard the ringing of her cell phone in her purse, which was still in the driver's seat of my car.

I drove back to the scene of the near accident and couldn't find her. Circled around again, in this stretch that had no streetlights, and still couldn't find her. Without her phone, she couldn't find me.

It was all playing out like a bad Jeff Bridges movie.

What if she's gone?
What if Vomiting Lady kidnaped her?
What if I never see my wife again?

Then I started thinking.

What picture should I upload for my new JDate profile?
What about Tinder?
Should I wear a baseball cap to conceal my baldness?

A thousand questions flooded my brain.

After circling round and round again, I finally spotted her near the parking lot of Home Depot. She was drenched. And crying. And very upset with the whole incident.

When we arrived at Alejo's my wife explained how the woman had a panic attack and was temporarily blinded. Thankfully, Debbie, my first responder, was there to talk her down from the ledge.

We ordered wine and beer and enjoyed the classic Alejo's chopped salad.

It'll probably be the last time I'll ever get to eat there again.

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