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Bouncer: Feeling right at Home 

Wednesday, Jul 14 2010

You gotta love a place that has a drink called a Homeboy. I'm talking about Home at Church and Market, the restaurant and bar that serves upscale diner food and a killer make-your-own-Bloody-Mary brunch. I was meeting some friends from high school, one of whom was in town with his family. I hadn't seen him in a long time. All of this reuniting was of course facilitated by Facebook, that site we all love to hate, but check several times daily.

Here's the funny thing about connecting with former classmates on Facebook: No matter how far you have come in life, you will find yourself immediately shot back into whatever younger self you were when you first knew them. They ask you to be their friend online, and you gratefully accept because you always thought they hated you, so maybe they really didn't hate you, because you were just a teenager and thought that everyone hated you. Then there are those people you would like to add, but are scared that they will ignore your request. So you mull it over for a long time, visit their pages, see what other people they have friended who are lamer than you, and eventually conjure up enough courage to request their friendship. Then they not only accept, but also send you a nice message about how they have always thought about you and wondered what you were doing. Then there are those you always liked and who you thought liked you — shoo-ins, I tell ya! — who blatantly ignore your requests. Wow, they actually hate you. Facebook has a cruel way of putting anyone you have requested into your daily queue of updates, so you see their status updates and all the other friends they have added, but are constantly reminded that they didn't want to pick you.

As I said, it's just like high school all over again.

I was sure that David, the guy I was going to meet at Home, was in the shoo-in category, and he was. We always liked each other. We were in a Chekhov play together as juniors. My character had to kiss his character, so he was technically my first kiss. The fact that I was dressed as a plump Russian peasant only added to the magic.

We all sat at a cozy banquette at Home, surrounded by pillows and synth-pop. He brought his wife and three children. Kids amaze me, probably because I work with developmentally disabled adults. When a 9-year-old says something profound, it sort of blows my mind.

We got caught up about the basic things — he's a math teacher and lives in L.A. Then we moved right on to the meat: our drunken high school teacher who directed us in A Marriage Proposal. I had no idea she was a drinker; I didn't know how to spot the signs, but David said that on weekends, she would come into the joint where he worked, order a pitcher of beer for herself, and slowly unravel before his eyes. "She basically wanted me to join her," he said. Ah, yes: No one wants to drink alone. Except George Thorogood.

Home is usually bustling with activity, but it was strangely empty on this night. I chalked it up to Pride Week overload — most people were laying low.

David was holding his 8-month-old son, and before I knew it the infant was in my arms, giggling and trying to eat my chunky Bakelite ring. I pulled him up to my face for kisses, and of course took a deep whiff each time, because babies smell amazing. David's 11-year-old daughter thought this was weird. "He doesn't smell good!" she laughed.

"Oh, indeed he does," I said, like a wise old sage on the mountaintop. "When you get older, you take the time to stop and smell the babies." She nodded, no doubt edified by my wisdom.

Our waiter was really good, and dropped in now and again to check on us. We took photos. It must be nice to have a family, but I was keenly aware that it is only because I am single that I was able to meet them that day. I have no ties to anyone, and can make my own schedule. I felt thankful for what I had. I was like a ronin grandma: I get to play with kids and then hand them over to their parents after about 40 minutes.

"I looked for you for a while," David said. I was touched, because I wouldn't really have put myself in the "Whatever happened to?" category. It's nice to be remembered.

We paid the bill and got up, and my other high school friend Lisa and I jumped on Muni for the long trek home. When I was finally there and settled on the couch, I did what I always do when I get home, which is check Facebook. David had already posted some pictures. There I was, triumphantly holding up his baby son, a huge smile on my face. The baby looked happy, too. I felt nice. I felt like everything was as it was supposed to be.

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Katy St. Clair

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