At 5:30, the Kaiser Permanente building was in my rear-view mirror. I flipped it off cheerfully and sped away through downtown San Rafael and to Lily’s neck of the woods. This was not without incident, of course; I spent 20 minutes getting lost in the nape of the neck of the woods, because every street there is named Something Vista Way or Something View Drive – and it’s not all that scenic. Someone had scene-envy, it seems.
I did not remember to jot down the apartment number, just the address, so I called Chad, who went on a fact-finding mission at work. While he did so, I wandered around until I saw a number that jogged my memory. I rang the doorbell. It was the right number.
Lily’s rats are really cool. I got to hold the larger, less skittish one, all butterscotch and white and quivering, long nose. I gave them both treats of puffed corn, which they hugged in their tiny pink claws and nibbled voraciously. The only thing that could tear me away from rat-fun was the thought of Emo Philips, just a few miles down the road.
So we left. Lily is a great conversationalist and we had lots to discuss. Straight shot down the 101 – is it really me driving? am I really not panicking? – and into the prelude to the city, a/k/a the Marina district. The streets are padded with money, so even if you fall you won’t hurt yourself. We pulled right up in front of the comedy club and into a parking space; I have used up my Great San Francisco Parking Quota for 2002, now. Everything went seamlessly at the will-call counter and, hands stamped, we entered and chose a table front and center, practically on the stage. Lily and I chatted some more, waited for David and his friend Brina, and ordered drinks plus some garlic fries to share. With only a few minutes to spare, David called to let me know they were stuck on a bus and would be there in five minutes. The lights went down.
The first comic, Andrew Norelli, made me laugh quite a bit. He had a dry, smirking delivery and local humor that was spot-on. Of course, he won points by picking on me, saying that I had caught his eye immediately. I laugh a lot when I’m picked on by comics, even harder when I’m flattered too. The second comic, Kevin Kataoka, was funny and a good actor; some of his jokes depended on him affecting the mannerisms of the people he described, and he did a terrific job. He wasn’t interactive with the audience, which was fine, after Andrew’s grilling.
Then Emo took the stage. In my biased opinion, we had the best seats in the house. Lily is quite gorgeous and definitely has her own look going on, and I just laugh hysterically at everything, so it wasn’t long before Lily and I were singled out once again. Emo’s new material is fantastic, and I was psyched to hear some of what he released on his new CD, because I love the energy of live performances. It all went by too quickly. I laughed and groaned and shook my head and nodded and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Emo is truly the king of the parenthetical reveal.
Afterwards, David and Brina met up with us; they had made it, but came late, so sat in the back. We all chatted excitedly a bit, and then I reached in my purse and got out my Emo CD and my Sharpie and asked, “Should I go get this autographed?” Well, of course I was going to do it, but I had to work up the courage a little by dragging everyone else with me. We walked down the hall towards the kitchen, where Emo was standing, getting a glass of white wine. He greeted us with a big smile and I asked him if he would sign my CD. He looked very pleased and asked if I had bought it online. I said yep and that I liked his website, too. He asked to whom he should write on the CD, and I spelled my name for him, prompting the inevitable, “How’d you get a name like that?” to which I responded, “It’s a street in Chicago.” As it turns out, he used to live there, so we chatted about Chicago for a few minutes. He signed my CD: “to Halsted, my Favorite broad thoroughfare!! your slave, emo”
Emo chatted with Lily and David and Brina, too, and shook my hand then gave me a big hug. (At this point, I think I was hopping up and down.) Then suddenly he exclaimed, “I want to give you presents!” So he gave me a big box of Corn Flakes with his picture on the front (the kind of funny souvenir you get at the Wharf) and instructed me not to eat the corn flakes inside, pointing out the expiration date (May of 2001). To Lily and David and Brina he gave VHS copies of his Cinemax special. He hugged me and Lily again – and maybe David and Brina, I don’t remember, I was bouncing so much – and thanked us for coming to the show and we left.
The rest of the night was a blur. We drove David and Brina home, chattering and laughing away, then Lily and I had more terrific conversation before I dropped her off and went home. Emo is still and will always be my favorite comic, and because of him I had one of the best nights of my life … on a Thursday.