Friday, April 6, 2012

Ditching School Kind of Day at the Cairo Cowboy

I have known Mel since I was twelve and we would ride the streets of the Coachella Valley on my Honda Elite Scooter as I would whisk her around in the summers between junior high and high school to our volleyball practice and her gymnastic sessions. She was and remains one of my lifelong best friends.

We were always very different on the outside. As a child she was a sports girl who didn’t wear much makeup and could fly around the gymnastic bars like nobody else I knew. I was the artist freak with a different colored hair every week prone to romanticizing about France and art nouveau. As adults nothing much has changed, me with my wrap dresses, red wine palate and paint on my clothes and she with her seriously muscular limbs, penchant for long camping trips in the natural world and a lust for beer. When we first reconnected a few years ago, it was a scene of me driving to Las Vegas to pick her up at the airport and then to a hotel where our mutual friend was renewing her vows. The first thing she made me do was stop off at Whole Foods for a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon that she boldly carried through the Venetian pool guard’s station and out into our elegant cabana. Her realness has always been the thing that soothes me.

A few weeks ago, she flew in to visit me and I took the opportunity to try out a new place near my home that was just waiting for me to have a companion like her. I am a sucker for Mediterranean food and she is a vegetarian so we walked to Windward Circle in Venice on a lazy, “ditching school” kind of day in the middle of the afternoon to sample the Cairo Cowboy.

Mel bought a sixer of Coors from the liquor store and we were welcomed into the quaint and tiny place, with our libations and no corkage fees, by two jovial staff members who served us a bowl of the freshest baba ganoush and pita triangles. I never drink beer unless it’s an elixir for washing down hot and spicy Thai or Indian food or I am in Europe and it comes smelling of hearty wheat fields with a blackened hue. But it seemed appropriate to do so while she was here, taking me back to our youth and the adventures we shared.

She ordered a pita stuffed with falafel, adorned with pink pickled jicama.

I had the gyro, which was mouthwateringly tender and stuffed with refreshing tzatziki, cucumber and tomatoes.

It was the perfect waste of a weekday afternoon, the kind I reminisce about often when remembering those long ago carefree summers we shared. Good friends and good food in unexpected places are simple gems in an ordinary structured adult way of life, and are the moments to cherish forever.  

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