He didn’t recognize me.
My heart sank, because wherever I go I try to leave a clean plate and a good impression, like a westward-bound pioneer orphan. I searched his face for a spark, a shred, a kernel of memory. Nothing. It’s a little heartbreaking to be forgotten by a pimp.
I had been cutting it close lately. Cocky? Nope. Flirting with danger? Wouldn’t know how. Traffic and poor time-management? Definitely.
There was a new truck on the trail, and it had made its presence known. You don’t just serve up drunken shrimp tacos, and Guinness battered fish and chips outside of
St. Joseph’s Hospital in on a lunch hour and not attract some attention. Burbank
And so I played coy.
“Coy,” meaning “Running Late.”
I wanted a shrimp taco somethin awful, and I set about to make one happen for myself. I hotfooted it over to St. Joe’s to land one, and that’s when the nightmare started. The gilded crimson four-wheeled eatery sat in the semi-circular drive alone. Never a good sign. Means everyone else is done for the day, and it wouldn’t be too far behind. I constructed an implied parking space for myself 2 blocks away and raced (verrrrrrrrrry light jog or prance) around the corner and up to the Shrimp Pimp truck, ablaze with tantalizing iconography- sultry shots of alluring shrimp perched in martini glasses.
As I sped (walked quickly) around the back of the truck, towards the Order Here window, I spotted him. Spotted him closing down the side of the truck. Lowering whatever that thingy is called-deliberately, but with no personal malice. It happened in slow-motion in my mind, and I stood there panting from the dual emotional fallout of moving quickly and jaywalking.
“OH YES!!!!! WE JUST SHUT DOWN!!!! OH NO!!!”
“(huff) Really?? Like, definitely? (puff)”
“OHMYGOD!!! I AM SO SORRY!!!!!!”
“It’s (pant) Ok. Will (huff) you be back?”
“YES!!!! COME BACK NEXT WEEK! I’LL MAKE YOU SOME SHRIMP TACOS! THEY’RE SO GOOD!!! OH NO, I CAN’T BELIEVE WE CLOSED!!! AND NOW WE’RE HEADED TO (Chatsworth? Northridge? I forget). I’M SO SO SO SORRY! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!!! HOW COULD SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPEN!!!!???!!!”
“It’s ok. (I’ve caught my breath by now) I’ll find you again.”
See the thing is-I was upset. But Neil…Neil the Shrimp Pimp was beside himself. He was really really upset. And when someone is upset that you can’t taste what they’re cookin’, it means what they're cookin’ is damn good.
We shared our genuine but charmingly lopsided sorrow for a moment longer-and then the Pimp headed outta dodge, on to (Chatsworth? Northridge? I forget). I went home lunchless, with tender knees and missing a bobby pin or two from my well-intentioned but ultimately unsuccessful pony tail.
It was a perfect October Friday in
. I rarely go to Santa Monica because if we’re really honest with ourselves, I think we can all admit that’s it’s really damn far away from everything but itself, and has the aneurism-inducing traffic to prove it. Plus, if you don’t have a Venti Soy Something in the cupholder on your stroller-or a stroller at all-you will be immediately identified as an imposter, and you will definitely get a parking ticket. Santa Monica
To park in
Santa Monica is to get a parking ticket in . Case closed. Santa Monica
But I was shooting an interview for the show EAT STREET, a food truck show that airs on the Cooking Channel. We were there to talk about, and eat from, the Pnut Butter Bar.
So I hopped off the freeway and headed towards a destination I had known deep down I would seek out one day: “Food Truck Alley.”
They might as well have called it: “Francesland.”
I rolled my window down and breathed in all that expensive beachy air. It felt good.
I found a parking spot right away, first time ever. It wasn’t even a tight squeeze.
The meter accepted the $1 coins that even a bank would probably decline. It was baffling.
At least ten food trucks lined up along the sidewalk. It was emotional.
I found Kharyn and my friends at the Pnut Butter Bar. Remember them? Peanut Butter Werewolf
I did my interview, and fulfilled every girl’s dream of eating a messy drippy sandwich on television. Ladylike it was not. Shirt and sidewalk-stainingly delicious it was.
I dig the EAT STREET peeps:
But there-next to Kharyn’s PB planet, sat: The Shrimp Pimp.
Not leaving. Not closing up. Not heading to (Chatsworth? Northridge? I forget).
Which is how I came to find that he did not remember me. So I prodded, I forced, I stepped back a little-then forward, and finally I ordered the Drunken Shrimp Tacos. He said he did remember me, which is either an indication of what a unique all-limbs-on-deck running style I have (something not to be forgotten), or that Neil is pretty much the most genuinely nicest nice guy around.
And when the most genuinely nicest nice guy around hands you sherry ginger marinated shrimp in a taco, you eat it. You sit on a nearby picnic table that you are for sure not allowed to sit at. You hunch over these tacos and watch as fully half of the paper napkins you snatched fly away on the expensive
breeze, because you cannot spare a hand right now. You are using that hand to eat this shrimp taco. And it is delicious. Santa Monica
You let cilantro and citrus segments put pep in your step, and you agree wordlessly to no one in particular that shredded carrot provides the exact right genius sweet crunch. And you acknowledge that it was this skill for finding the tasty that landed him on Zagat’s 10 Best Food Trucks list.
I’ve heard that it’s hard out there for a pimp. But not this pimp. Because what this pimp peddles is perfect. And delicious. And legal. J