Day 15: England
It’s pretty unrealistic for me to want to be Cuban or African-American. But I think I could almost be British. I just need to do some voice training, change my last name to something a little less “Star of David” and a little more imperial— like “Charles”, or working class— like “Shitshoveler”. I also never had braces, so the tooth thing won’t be a problem. But is being British better than being United States of American? I don’t know, but it sounds fun. You see, as of now, I simply can’t walk into a pub (bar) and order a pint of bitter (a fucking beer) without sounding like a total douche bag. I can’t say I’m “knackered”, I can’t call some whore a “slag” and I can’t get mad and say “fokkin ‘ell!” Which is all really too bad. I also don’t get girls walking up to me and telling me I have a cute accent, which is even more annoying, since from what I’ve heard that doesn’t even happen to us in other countries.
But do you know what really bugs me? It’s not so much that I want to be British, it’s that I want to be a Detective Inspector (DI) in a proper football town in the 1970s. If you’ve ever seen the British TV show “Life on Mars” you know what I mean. What’s not to like? You get to drive around with other British people, beat confessions out of bad guys and then at the end of every day, you sit around at a pub and drink a pint of bitter (or several). So far I have no idea how I’m going to pull that off, but for the moment, I just figure I’ll head to a British pub/restaurant to see how that feels. So I get into GirlfriendBites’ Mini Cooper, turn on the engine and, wouldn’t you know it, David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” starts playing on the CD player. I am now sufficiently pumped.
Ye Olde King’s Head in Santa Monica. This place has been around forever and used to be a big expat destination. Then the Third Street Promenade got really busy, people started flocking to the restaurant, it expanded and now it’s a British pub, restaurant and gift shop filled with United States of Americans watching American college football. The bartenders are pretty, blond USAers and you can’t hear an accent no matter how hard you listen. I’m not even sure if they know what a pint of bitter is (I’m told it actually refers to a type of beer).
Today I’m joined by Mr. Meatball and five of his friends from work: Meatball’s boss, some guy who says he’s a swimmer, a fellow named The Kos, a man with a name so Jewy that I simply have to call him Mr. Rabinowitz and lastly, a “British” guy. Unfortunately, the “British” guy has lived in the US since he was thirteen, so my hopes for this event feeling in any way British are being slowly strangled into a depressed submission. We start off in the pub with a round of Fuller’s to get the mood going. Then Meatball, The Kos and Mr. Rabinowitz start talking about finances and long term investment. We’ve been here about fifteen minutes. Screw this. I’m hungry. Let’s get a table.
Our blond US born hostess shows us to a booth in the corner. We order another round of beers (our waitress is English!) and pick our food. Cornish Pasty (me), bangers and mash and a Welsh rarebit (Meatball), chicken tikka masala (The Kos), shepherd’s pie (Mr. Rabinowitz), just a beer (fucking swimmers…), fish and chips (Boss Meatball), and vegetarian shepherd’s pie (come on “British” guy). So for those keeping score, “British” guy doesn’t eat meat and hasn’t said anything remotely British all night. Now the food arrives, and I must say, they do it right here. Everything is tasty except for the vegetarian shepherd’s pie, but can you really call it a shepherd’s pie? What do they herd— carrots?
But the potatoes are fluffy, the crispy things are crispy and the gravy is savory. Good bangers, good fish, passable chicken tikka. Mr. Meatball goes on to call the Welsh rarebit “muffin nachos”. All great. Then Meatball, Mr. Rabinowitz and The Kos start talking about how much longer they can sign up for a birth right to Israel. Sounds like it’s time for me to come to terms with the fact that this is just a bunch of dudes from the USA having a night out with some beers and some food. And I didn’t even get to beat a guy up for saying something mean about my “mum”.
I get home, walk the dog and lay on the couch with a belly full of meat and beer. I flick on the TV and Jon Stewart is interviewing Tony Blair. Jon asks Tony a bunch of tough questions about the Iraq war and Tony is nice enough to do his best to answer them. That’s more than I can say for what our politicians do in situations like this, so watching Tony makes me proud to want to be a British person. But I guess I don’t have much of a shot. Even if I try, I’ll turn into one of those fake Brits. The ones you knew in high school that didn’t have any accents, but then you run into them a few years later and they suddenly talk in a higher pitch, their posture is different and they say things like “It’s positively delightful running into you!” but everybody knows they were born in Irvine. Oh well. Maybe it’s not too late to be Dominican or something.
Ye Olde King’s Head
132 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Food Breakdown: 10 beers, 1 appetizer, 6 entrees
Distance From My House: 7.4 miles