Pin It

Eavesdropping Once Again: the codependents at Basil 

Wednesday, Mar 5 2008
Comments

If there's gonna be sports on TV in a bar — and let's face it, there always is — then I can hope that it will at least be hockey. It's the only sport that really makes sense to me. A point is just a point, and not, like, six points or two points. If the game ends in a tie, the teams simply do a shootout. And if you're bad, you go to the penalty box. My little brain can easily wrap itself around these rules. Then, of course, there are the fights. It's Jerry Springer on ice.

I was sitting in the bar area at Basil on Folsom, and hockey was on the TV. This seemed incongruous. Basil is a Thai restaurant. It's sleek and, er, fashion-forward, like most SOMA eateries. Why is the default television setting automatically sports? This place could get away with Turner Classic Movies, or the Food Network, or, heck, the Thailand channel. But no, it was sports, and it was hockey. The sound was off, but the subtitles were on. One of the players was named Nabokov. "And here's Dostoyevsky with a lateral pass!" I chuckled to myself. "Chekhov intercepts on the back nine!" (Okay, that last phrase probably makes no hockey sense, but whatevs.)

I was alone again (naturally), and in the mood to aurally sponge. But if you really want to eavesdrop, and lord knows I do, restaurants are the best. People talk way more intimately at a table with food than they do saddled up to a bar. I couldn't believe my luck when a couple was seated directly behind me. The acoustics were perfect for overhearing some tasty nuggets: No one else was in the place, the floors were shiny wood so sound bounced off them, and the stereo volume was set low.

She ordered a Pinot Grigio, and he ordered something red.

"I really liked that guy she brought," the man said. "What was his name? Pete? He seemed grounded and —"

"He's an alcoholic," the woman interrupted. Ah, she had taken this guy's "inventory," to use an AA phrase. Yay! This was gonna be good. "She has once again attached herself to someone whose problems are bigger than her own." Wow, she had taken the woman's inventory, too. I set my virtual Miracle-Ear to ten.

The first fight broke out on the TV. The players were beating the shit out of each other, pressed up against the barriers. Despite the obvious displays of machismo, hockey fights are so "chick." The players whack each other over the head with their fists, and shove instead of going for straightforward face punches. They might as well be Ruth Buzzi walloping someone with her purse. The hockey audience just sat there, inches from the spectacle, bemused.

"Well," the guy at the table continued, "I liked him." The waiter brought the pair their drinks. Immediately the man protested: "You call this a glass of wine?" I had to turn around. He did have a point: The glass was, like, an inch full. The waiter explained that the customer had said that he wanted to "try" it, thinking that meant taste it. The guy explained that it was a figure of speech, and could he please have a full glass. Tension! I sat there, bemused.

Then there was another fight on the TV, this time in the middle of the ice. Even the waiters took notice. We all gave each other a look that said, "Jeez."

The man at the table started talking about some recent drunken evening he'd had. "I had to go into the bathroom; I was pukin' everywhere." The woman chuckled. He continued: "People were coming into the john and asking if I was the guy that was puking in the bathroom. Word traveled, I guess!"

I always like conversations about someone else's alcoholism that involve alcoholic tendencies. The lady seemed more interested in discussing her codependent friend who was seeing Pete.

"She just can't seem to not surround herself with chaos," she sighed. Then she said something really interesting. "But I guess out of all her friends, I'm the worst influence, so I really shouldn't be talking." It was the man's turn to chuckle.

Basil gives you great snacks at your table and at the bar. They are like Thai nachos, probably made from rice something-or-other. They fizz on your tongue like Pop Rocks. I ate the last one and finished my beer. Another fight broke out on the TV. Wait, no: It was just a replay of the last one, filmed from another angle.

"I just hope she gets her shit together," said the woman, back on the subject of her friend. "You'd think after her last husband left her she'd like, you know, reassess things. Oh god, here she comes." The man turned around to greet their third party. The lady they had been talking about! I got a gander at her. She looked like someone who would make intelligent choices in dating, not foolish ones. I shook my head in judgment. "I know waaaay more about you than I should," I thought. Oh, man, would Pete show up? I could only hope. They told the waiter that there would only be three of them. My heart sank.

The TV replayed the first fight on the barriers. I guess the media has absorbed that cliché that hockey should just be a series of fights with some play interspersed. I suddenly didn't feel like watching any more fights, or hearing any more drama. Strange, yes. I had the urge to head home and watch my Golden Girls DVDs. Everything always gets resolved on The Golden Girls, although there is the occasional chick fight with purses.

I said bye to the staff and gave an invisible "bye" to the trio. Enjoy your meal, I thought, sending the codependent, jerk-loving woman some extra-warm vibes. I left, and another fight broke out on the TV.

About The Author

Katy St. Clair

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed