Aisle Of Wit

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Leblang Across America: The Recap – Leg One

Those of you who follow my social media know I’ve recently started to “break out of my COVID isolation” by getting out and about and having new experiences, which are all the more special to me given what I’ve survived in the past 18 months.  The necessity of condensing everything to cute photos, ambiguous captions and, ultimately, clickbait—not to mention some pending legal issues—reduces these experiences to something akin to posting a picture of the beef ribs cooked last night to watch the hockey game alone.   There’s a lot more that goes into those subtle shares, and I’ll detail what I can about some of it here.

One of the great joys of Zoom has been the ability to connect anyone from anywhere.  Never was this truer than my bi-weekly zoom calls w

ith members of my extended family that I never knew existed until last summer.  My maternal grandfather had eight step-siblings that we knew existed but never met any descendants from that side.  His father sired five children with my great-grandmother, who died young,  He then married a woman who had five kids of her own with her first husband, thereby making their union the 1905 East London equivalent of “The Brady Bunch”.  Unlike the Bradys, these British lovebirds had three more kids.  You go Grampy Lou.  You rock—or at least you did

The next several months were fascinating personal journeys with people who have turned out to be brilliant, beautiful, successful, normal and generous—adjectives that truly have not been applicable to the majority of my heretofore known family.  A couple live near me in Southern California; we had already gotten together.  Many others live in the Bay Area surrounding San Francisco.  The confluence of a holiday weekend, a soon-to-be expiring leased car with exceptionally low mileage where I finally got the body and mechanical work done on, and the easing of pandemic anxiety.  Pfizer, you rock!


So I got on the road.  Again.  Here are my top-line observations:

  • I had never driven from LA to Northern California on my own. It’s a great drive if weather cooperates.  The weather was glorious.  Climate, you rock.
  • I drove past Dead Man’s Curve, where James Dean was killed on 9/30/55. I made it.  Highways 41 and 46, you rock.
  • I discovered the major difference between Red California and Blue California was that a gallon of regular gas in Red California (just north of Buellton) was under $4.00 and in Blue California (downtown San Francisco) was $5.50. For that kind of savings I’ll tolerate your Q-Anon support. Red California, you rock.
  • Meeting a genuinely happy family that you share some sliver of DNA with is exhilarating. The daughter will be designing the logos for this website.  Cousin Jade, you rock. (And get that proposal to me soon—this site needs some more artwork).
  • Our plans to do winery tours were aborted because we simply had too good a time at brunch and I was exhausted from my drive. Instead I took a nap in an outdoor lounger as the afternoon cooled down.  When I woke up I found a cold lemonade in a tumbler tucked into the cup holder on my chaise.  I’ve never had such service even at a five-star resort.  Cousin Barry, you rock.
  • I’ve never stayed at any resort that put out fresh towels for my shower with the sign “Towels for Steve”. Cousin Cindy, you rock.
  • Did you know Amy’s, the ubiquitous “healthy” frozen food brand, started as a small fast food chain in the Bay Area? I know it now.  You bet I had the mac and cheese.  It actually looked like it was microwaved itself on site.  The dollop of chili I had on top was fresh though.    Amy’s, you still rock.
  • No, Cousin Donna, despite your hopes we are NOT related to Tobey McGuire. Though Cousin Adam likes cosplay and might wear a Spider-Man costume some time if you ask nicely.  Cousin Adam, you rock.
  • I never held a snake until this weekend. When a snake likes you he licks you with a serpentine tongue and nuzzles your neck.  Rivals my cats.  Chaucer, you rock.
  • I have lots of other friends who live in the area. Tom, Susan and Emily, your home was lovely.  Seeing the Giants win with three home runs at my first afternoon game at Oracle Park was delightful.  Adios Pelota indeed.  And thanks for the cap.  Spitz Family, you rock.
  • I have not one but two colleagues from my storied career who have settled in the quaint little town of Healdsburg. They live a couple of blocks apart (there aren’t many blocks period).  They know each other now.  Ray and Steph, your home was beautiful. The wine was lovely.  Giacopellis, you rock. (And so do you Barb and J.P.).
  • I caught up with a special friend who somehow chose to work for me twice and now lives in the lovely coastal village of Benecia, California’s first state capital. Mitzi, you rock.
  • The “patriarch” of our family zooms is a spry, successful retired businessman who plays golf in the mornings and is a genuinely generous and caring soul, as is his wife. Cousins Don and Harriet, you both rock.  (I got home safely—eventually.  Sorry I didn’t text you when I did get in.  The fact you worried brought tears to my eyes).
  • And finally—even before I left—my amazing and beautiful friend Sabrina (not family, thank GOD!!) was in town. Never have I posted a picture on Facebook that got as many likes as the one taken of us having a fantastic dinner.  She IS amazing, for the record.  For every reason you can possibly think.  The complete details of our adventures will remain ambiguous.  Suffice to say I’ve never enjoyed picking someone up from the airport more.  Sabrina—you ARE a rock.  I truly adore you.

When you experience people and do things for the first time ever—or at least in a long time—you appreciate the smallest victories, and you savor the littlest things.  And you make sure you let people know how grateful you are.  Rigorous honesty at its most expressive.  THAT is how you can emotionally speak Leblanguage.

Until next time…