I was enjoying my eggs, goat cheese, tomatoes, spinach scramble and half a plain bagel with cream cheese (though miffed that the Montecito Jeannine’s has no poppyseed bagels, just plain, cinnamon raisin, sesame and everything–yuck to all of these), when I noticed a new photograph of Jeannine, the woman who opened this old breakfast/lunch place and bakery decades ago.
She was a student at UCSB and married her WWII veteran husband, I think, though it might have been Korea, right out of college, and proceeded to have four beautiful children. Her son now runs the three restaurants, which are all overpriced but very good. And every year, Jeannine’s wins best place to buy a cake. The Thanksgiving pies are wonderful and I bought one for my parents in 2009–we did Thanksgiving at a steakhouse that year on a Friday, oddly–but I left it in my refrigerator in SB of course and then munched or grazed for about a week, enjoying the pumpkie pie immensely. I’m not a big pie person but I can easily eat an entire pie by myself, with loads of whipped cream, of course.
I used to be a whipped cream addict in the last years of the depression, when I drank 40 gallons of water a month, but that is a story for another day. I didn’t drink from 9/11 to early 2008, never going to bars, restaurants, malls, movies, stores; I just drank prodigious amounts of water, fresh squeezed vegetable juice which costs an arm and a leg, and about five cans of whipped cream over fruit a week. I have not bought a can in well over three years. It is peculiar–though FB and J have made me realize how eccentric I truly am–that in all those years of depression it never occurred to me to buy a bottle of wine at the market. Such a thing occurs to most people when they feel like shit, but it simply never occurred to me that such a thing would help, perhaps because I did my time in Al-Anon and have addicts in my family–not my parents which I feel obliged to note–and know that whatever your life problem happens to be, booze does not solve or fix it.
This locution–”whatever your problem may be”–reminds me of a movie I truly love, Sorkin’s American President, with a still young and luminous Annette Bening and and also young and still handsome and sexy Michael Douglas, along with Michael J. Fox, Anna Deveare Smith, David Paymer, Josh Malina, character actress best know for the Reese Witherspoon movie with Law and Order star, Sam Waterston, and of course the incomprable Martin Sheen. The scene in which President Shephard (Douglas) finally listens to his staff and recovers his balls enough to respond aggressively the attacks of Republican senator and presidential hopeful, Bob Rumson– brilliantly played by a white-haired, portly, older Richard Dreyfuss–is classic. President Shephard says, “And I guarantee you, whatever your problem happens to be, Bob Rumsom is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who to blame for it. That, my friends, is how you win elections.” What a great speech!
(I didn’t think of this, oddly, until having to spell out the president’s last name, that the choice of his last name is a bit obvious and heavy-handedly allegorical–Shephard–and that when James named Milly’s best friend in Wings of the Dove Susan Shepherd, he actually means to invoke the Biblical notion, just as he does invoke the Psalms in the title of that great late novel, one of the three he wrote (“the great trilogy”) at Lamb House, Rye, where he lived out his last days. I have never been to Continental Europe and traveled almost not at all, but I have actually visited his house in Rye, a truly spiritual experience, even for a non-believer, or a believer in the spiritual powers of art only.)
I actually saw the film alone in New Haven, or Milford, at the then new Showcase Cinemas, alone on a Friday after lunch, which I would often do the year after graduation when I was studying for GRE and writing applications for grad school. And I remember leaving the fairly empty theater to walk to the parking lot and hearing two older CT Republicans grumbling in a most passionate manner about the liberal bias of the film, which made me giggle of course.
I could now be a little IMDB mimic and tell you every film each of the ensemble cast of Sorkin’s film has been in, but I have to go babysit Dad in LA and have a few things to pick up on the way, so I will now proceed to the conversation at Jeannine’s. (I must say though, Josh Malina is in many Sorkin films and starred as the nerdy, brilliant, Jewish , sports-loving associate producer in Sports Night and he graduated from Yale around the time Ed Norton did, 1988 or 1989 if memory serves me. I see him pop up on occasion in the class notes section of the AYA magazine I get every month and enjoy quite a lot usually. (That new Yale campus in Singapore is a real trip, and perhaps I will write a short post about that. Of course, some were very pissed off that a great liberal arts college in America–arguably the greatest, haha–would open up a branch in a country not exactly known for its human rights record! Others just think it dilutes the name of Yale and follows in the footsteps of other great colleges who see such expansion as a money-maker.)
So I saw this picture of Jeannine, probably in high school (all the restaurants have 2 by 2 feet portraits of the family and couple, black and white only), with a collar whose name I could not recall. I asked the couple eating the decadent banana French Toast (Cavalcados or something like that) what they call that type of collar and the woman instantly knew: Peter Pan. I often strike up conversations with strangers, particularly at restaurants or airports (but not on planes as a rule), and we began to talk about my mother’s generation. Mom was a good girl in every way, never even took a puff off a ciggarette, did not drink in high school, and of course, only “fast girls” engaged in premarital sex, or at least premarital high school sex in the 1950s, even in liberal Los Angeles.
Girls had to wear, even in public high school–she is Hollywood High class of 1958 I believe–dresses or skirts. No jeans or even wool trousers allowed for girls. And I was shocked to learn that a good friend of mine , now 60, who attended Granada Hills High School in the San Fernando Valley, ten years younger than my mother and part of the sex, drugs, rock and roll generation, also wore skirts and dresses to school. The only “rebellious” thing my mother ever did was wear slacks to the graduation rehearsal and it’s a cute story which I cannot remember well enough to tell. But the principal said that as a result of her disobedience, she would not be allowed to graduate on the stage, which mattered because she was getting an award of some sort (not valedictorian, but something).
The woman, a lawyer with two sons in their twenties, one engaged, told me she was on the cusp of the generation of women allowed to wear jeans to school. She had to wear a skirt or dress–with an appropriate hem of course–the first two years of high school, but could wear jeans her senior year. This of course prompted a discussion of the recent Wall Street Journal article about the backlash against business casual and dressing down which I posted, and then others stole. I stole it from a friend of mine, too. I got a great response and so did the rest of the people who shared it, though of course the type of FB person who is going to share such an article is preaching to the choir generally.
And then she shared that this is simply part of a return to more traditional values which she witnesses in the lives of her two sons and their partners, one soon to be a spouse. She said that she and her husband had a “hippie wedding,” and that in her day (she lives in Seattle and went to school in New England, but came from Oregon), couples did not have long engagements. You just sort of decided, okay, I love this person and want to be with him/her for life, so I’m getting married. By contrast, her son and her soon-to-be daughter-in-law have had a long engagement, during which they have planned a formal wedding, complete with showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties. She also said that she sees an increasing number of college and even grad-educated women choosing to stay home to raise children and take care of the household. And most of all, she cited the trend of taking one’s husband’s name in marriage, even when one has a career and made a name for herself.
She says at that the firm she just left, young women who have name recognition in Seattle are getting married and changing their names. Now, my view on this is as follows: 1) If you are famous and/or successful in business, law, medicine, journalism, entertainment or academia, you should not change your name, and 2) If you are none of the above, and your husband’s name sounds better with what used to be called one’s Christian name, then you should take it on the theory that a more mellifluous name is a good thing. I do not believe it has anything to do with feminism one way or another. It simply makes no sense to change your name when you are, say, a tenured professor of English with five books under your belt.
My mom married my dad at 26 years of age, during her first year as a lawyer, and she was nobody at the time. However, when she appears in newspapers, her name includes my father’s–Ordin–and her middle name (without hyphen–I am anti-hyphen, personally, though do not judge those who make that choice). Not that the subject ever arises , of course, but my name is almost identical to my boyfriend’s–five letters, two syllables, four of which are the same–so if you had bad hearing you wouldn’t know the difference!
I thought it was all very interesting and because I am a very helpful–though also practically/professionally useless–person of course, I talked to them about buying or renting a place here to visit when they cannot bear the rain and gloom of Seattle. I told them about the rental situation here–you can find a quite nice one-bedroom in the 1400 to 1500 range–and sometimes an elegant two-bedroom in the 1700 to 1800 range, which by Manhattan standards is an unbelievable bargain. Of course, in Houston, rents are insanely cheap, perhaps because the heat is so oppressive, but my boyfriend lived there in his teen years and says that it is only thirty minutes to the beach, which one would think would mitigate the horrifying humidity to some extent.
I often meet interesting people in Montecito bars and restaurants–though now I don’t go to bars alone in Santa Barbara since I have a boyfriend and so many friends on FB or in real life to talk to over the phone–because a lot of interesting and successful people vacation here and view it as an appealing travel destination. I must say, SB has gotten a lot hipper since I came in 1996. But my boyfriend’s parents, who had prominent reputations as doctors in Houston, as well as an established circle of friends, report that it is no easier to make good friends in SB in one’s late 60s than it is in one’s late 20s.