After starting the day with a stop at the Seven Bridges Cooperative homebrew supply store in Santa Cruz, I cruised around beautiful Monterey Bay to locate both my motel and the Monterey Marriott hosting the Winemaker Magazine conference, guided all the way by the tiny lady who lives inside my Garmin GPS.
While she is undoubtedly helpful at times, Agnes tends to be unstable, peevish at times, and at other times downright confrontational, to the point where after every verbal instruction, the implied “you idiot”, unspoken, and with a note appropriate to discussion of a bad mutual, and ex-, marriage, seems to hang in the air. As an example, “Drive to the highlighted route, you idiot!”
As an aside, I’ve learned that you must never ask Agnes to find you a post office. Mostly she has no idea what you’re talking about, so she makes stuff up. She may guide you right past a perfectly good post office, and dump you at the loading dock of some run-down warehouse. God help you if you question her guidance; I once asked her three times to take me to a (possibly mythical) post office in Albuquerque, and she suffered a complete (and acrimonious) breakdown, never to recover. We retired her to someplace soft and dark, and replaced her with a new Agnes. God’s truth.
Anyway, after I’d found the Marriott, and learned I’d be using valet parking, I asked Agnes to find me the nearest 76 gas station, so I could start the following day (and the Winemaker Magazine conference) with a full tank of gas, which she did. (Arriving at 76 station, on left, you idiot!)
With tank filled, I moved next door into a small strip mall parking lot, to ask Agnes where I might find lunch. While she was busy telling me there was nothing close, I looked up to find I was parked 10 feet from a Chinese restaurant (you idiot!), and I loves me some Chinese food.
My waitress was a lovely young lady, sweet and polite to a fault, and dressed in traditional Chinese (restaurant serving) attire. When I gave my order (kung pao chicken), she performed something between a head nod and a deep bow. I was so struck by the gentle respect implied (especially by such a lovely lady), that I felt moved to … do something … so I, too, bowed.
When I looked up, my waitress’s face was more animated. Pleased perhaps, challenged maybe, inscrutable certainly, but changed. Her eyes showed increased interest in whatever the hell was happening, and she seemed to wait for a response from me. Deeply in over my head, I did the only thing I could think of; I bowed.
I don’t recall exactly what followed, at least on a play-by-play level, but my lovely waitress and I performed a short volley of bows every time our eyes met, which was often. I may have participated in a touching social ritual. I may have competed in something (if so, I lost). Hell, I may have insulted the poor dear egregiously; I have absolutely no idea.
All I can say for sure is that I may have thrown something out in my neck (you idiot!)