You are going to walk in during one of those random San Francisco outings with the out-of-town relatives.
You will have reservations about eating there in the first place because the joint has always looked a bit tourist-trappy to you.
As if to illustrate that probability, a large herd of people will meander by the entrance to the Ferry Building doing the sightseer molasses stroll that you recall drove you near-mental when you lived in New York City and had places-to-go-and-people-to-see.
And burgers? How clichéd can you be when you’re showing around a gaggle of Western Europeans?
And you will dread it even more in this instance because there are two Italian cousins among your guests and the two of them, in particular, really stress you out when it comes to food. Not because of anything they say but because of what they don’t say.
But everyone’s starved, exhausted.
You, having been born with no discernible sense of direction, have been leading the entire group up and down an endless series of San Francisco streets. You’ve struck out in a handful of directions where perfectly delightful downhill jaunts have turned out, alas, to be dead-ends and thus had to be reclimbed.
You are beginning to feel like a chastened Sisyphus, pushing not just the boulder up the mountain but the entire clan on your father’s side.
You’re certain that if you take another step, they may have to haul out a stretcher.
No. This place will have to do.
You all stand in line. You fix a haughty gaze at the menu as you inch your way up.
You order the tuna burger.
Plus the garlic fries.
The Europeans are divided about equally between beef and tuna.
You hunt for seats in the crowded dining room as you clutch the large square pager that will light up and vibrate when your food is ready. Jokes ensue.
Eventually the pager goes off.
The burgers are fetched and disseminated.
You bite into a fresh Ahi Tuna, seared, exquisite.
You taste that first hint of ginger wasabi mayo.
You sigh into the sweet and sour timbres of the colorful Asian slaw.
You float through the pillowy, barely toasted egg bun.
And you think: Oh my dear heavens … what have we here?
You venture a glance around.
Your party eats in silence.
In rapture, all.
Gott’s Roadside, Ferry Building, San Francisco.
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