When you're dreaming, certain things seem completely normal, and it's only when you wake up and really think about it that you realize something funky was going on. For example, you could be having a perfectly pleasant dream in which you're eating a bright-blue peanut butter sandwich, and in your dream you think to yourself, “Huh, these new aquamarine peanut butter spreads are indeed as good as everyone has said!” You take it for granted that a peanut butter of that variety exists. This leads me to think that there are parts of our brains that can be very convinced of certain things that are, in fact, absurd.
When I walked into the bar at the Hayes Valley German joint known as Suppenküche, I thought I was dreaming. I parted the curtains at the door and was faced with a large, brightly lit room. There were only a few tables on the periphery, a wide open space in the middle, and the bar area itself was a tiny square off to the southwest corner. It took up less than a quarter of the room. Yet everyone who was in the place — say, around 20 people — was squished around this petite square, Gott's little acre, if you will. So many patrons were lined up around it that there was no place for me to squeeze in and get the bartender's attention. Their voices were hushed, too.
So here I was in this room that reminded me of a Swedish gymnasium meets Hitler's Wolf Lair, with everything happening in one small corner, all in sotto voce. It was weird.
I sort of stood there in the middle of the room for a while. I suppose if I had truly been dreaming, this would've been the time that I realized I was wearing only my underwear. But I'm not the sort to have those “underwear” dreams.
No, my recurring dream takes place in high school. It's the last day of class, I have a final exam, and I haven't shown up all semester. No biggie — in reality I had no problem with such situations. I barely graduated. But, as with the ol' bright-blue peanut butter sandwich, in these dreams, I suddenly seem to care what my grade is going to be. The whole dream then becomes an anxiety-filled calculus cram session that ends with an inability to find my homeroom number, or finding the room number but in the wrong building. If I do actually make it to the test, my pencils are all broken, or I try and make an interesting pattern out of numbers in hopes that the answers will magically appear.
Standing there alone at Suppenküche, I felt like I had arrived in the wrong building with a broken pencil. I shuffled a bit closer to the bar and finally saw a parting between a group of guys and a group of gals. I ordered a Hefeweizen — you have to do that in German places, especially since they always have the proper glassware for each brew. For Hefeweizen, the glass is long, wide, and, well, hellsa Deutsch. Besides, sipping out of a freakishly large glass just felt right in this strange dream.
The women next to me were talking about the mayor and his dalliance. I must say, I was surprised that they hadn't moved on to more pressing current events, like Britney Spears' impending custody battle, or where Anna Nicole's remains were going to end up, or Iran's failure to stop uranium enrichment in time for the U.N.'s deadline. However, being a dirt monkey, I was glad to listen in on what the fairer sex made of the whole thing.
“He could've had anyone he wanted!” said the one with the hair like Paige Davis on Trading Spaces. The way she said it led me to believe that he could've had her, if he had wanted. “Why pick the wife of your best friend?”
Her pals quibbled a bit with the idea that it was his 'best friend,' but agreed that it was gnarly nonetheless.
The whole conversation was so predictable — just about all of us have had the same one about this subject, let's face it — that I began to anticipate their moves. I was sure that one of them would delve deeper into the idea of infidelity, which would reveal her own memories of betrayal or a deep-set fear of rejection. Nope.
“I guess he's free again,” said the mousy one, finishing off her red wine. The others kind of nodded their heads in agreement. So, this is how women access that part of their brain that is convinced that blue peanut butter sandwiches exist. Whoever gets involved with Gavin Newsom in the future will probably tell herself that he will not cheat on her, that he can be trusted. She will tell herself that he was technically single when he had the affair, so therefore he would never actually cheat on a significant other.
I turned around and looked out over the big empty room, then turned back to the gaggle hugging the bar area. I suddenly had an aerial view of the room from the ceiling. We all looked like a swarm of ants hovering around a crumb on an empty plate. From there I rose into the sky and could see the building block, then the city, then Northern California, then a satellite picture of the western United States, then Earth itself. Astronauts have said that when they were out there in space, looking back on Earth, all the petty differences seemed very trivial. From space, Earth looks like a big blue ball of aquamarine peanut butter.
It's possible that Gavin Newsom is dreaming. That he didn't really have sex with his campaign manager's wife, and that everyone didn't find out about it. He didn't really let down the gay and lesbian community's fight for marriage rights by making a poor moral example of himself. He didn't really have to face the music at a press conference, where the whole world suddenly saw him in his underwear. It was all a dream.
As for me, well, I ordered another beer and entertained thoughts of schnitzel. Bright-blue schnitzel, with a side of calculus.
SUPPENKÜCHE. 525 Laguna. 252-9289.