Inconsistency in California and urinals


It has come to this
Last night we went out for dinner at a restaurant principally serving hummus, and then a long walk in search of entertainment, which culminated in a faux-English pub called the Rose and Crown, populated by people so young it felt like they were allowing unborn fetuses to drink. Palo Alto is not a party town by any measure; there are no bars full of people spilling out onto the streets, nobody is on a rager. Instead, they line up outside ice cream shops at 10pm, and I can’t work out if this is because people have the freedom to do what they want (and that turns out to be eating ice cream) or because they’re somehow infantilised and should really grow up. Or go to bed. Or get on the hard stuff.

They’re also all unfailingly happy and polite, which was why it was extra unexpected (but quite amusing) when we went into a bar this evening and instead of trying to sit five of us round a table with only four chairs, moved to a table in an adjoining room with an adequate amount of seating. The maitre d’ rushed over, glaring, and hissed with rage “I told you to go into the other room!” Funny the things that provoke people to rage.

Although if that was odd, what was odder was the sight I was presented with in the restroom. A Californian branded urinal. Who is this meant to satisfy? Most Americans are proud of their state, in a way quite foreign to a denizen of South London like me. Nobody is particularly proud of Bromley, for example. So for the restaurant to arrange to install something so that customers could literally piss all over California was a really bold move. Or perhaps they’re all from out of state and, like me, are slightly disaffected by the bright sunshine and the unrelenting cheerfulness.

We left soon after, and went to buy ice cream sandwiches. Because I’m nothing if not a hypocrite.

Then back to the hotel, past the small swimming pool, and the sign next to the pool, warning that diarrhea is prohibited (slightly off putting when the sigh is only slightly smaller than the pool – is that a problem they’ve been having a lot and need to tell people about?)

Tomorrow, in about an hour, my wife lands in Singapore with my daughters and my sister. I’m feeling really quite sad that I’m not there to greet them.


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