Lynn Ruth Miller – an American performer now based in the UK – continues her tales of returning to the US for three weeks of gigs in and around San Francisco after four years away…
That night was going to be the big one. I was going to perform my show This Is Your Future at Beth Lemke’s A Grape in The Fog – her wine bar in Pacifica – and this was the city I lived in and loved for thirty years.
This Is Your Future makes them laugh in Australia and the UK.
But would I get a giggle from the Americans?
A Grape in The Fog is Beth’s baby (along with her special child, Daphne, a teeny tiny Chihuahua with a gigantic attitude).
Pacifica is a bedroom community filled with restaurants and services for people who commute to San Francisco or to Silicon Valley. The level of sophistication one needs to create a successful wine bar for the beer-drinking, hamburger-guzzling local residents does not exist.
However, Beth is very innovative and staged events like jazz-and-wine, art-and-wine, games-and-wine, even a Yappy Hour so Daphne the Chihuahua could show off her new costumes to other less pampered pets.
It has taken Beth eight years of persistence and creativity, but she has now established a stable, niche market for her fine and very expensive gourmet wines.
To my delight, A Grape in The Fog was packed with people who knew me back in those halcyon days of walking too many dogs, writing columns for their newspaper and telling dirty jokes.
Every person who came to the show was a gift to me, but, as with all things, every good bit of news brings bad news to counter it.
I learned that my really young fifty-ish neighbors across the street had both died. Way too young. So had my neighbor to the east who was blind and very old when I lost my house. We all knew that was coming. The man of the house on the west had died too, but his harpy of a wife – a woman who reported me to the police for giving her son champagne for his high school graduation – still spreads her venom.
There is no justice or logic to those who continue and those who stop, is there?
One very special guest at A Grape in The Fog was Lennon Smith who helped me formulate my very first one woman show Farewell To The Tooth Fairy – a series of stories from my book Thoughts While Walking The Dog. It was she who began me on the path that led to the Toast Award and the cabarets I do regularly in London and Edinburgh.
So there I was, my past clustered about me, drinking exquisite wine and smiling indulgently as well-meaning, kind people insisted I had not changed one whit even though I am two inches shorter and look like something someone soaked in the bath two hours too long.
They laughed at British jokes they could not understand because they cared about me.
‘Dogging’ to them is following someone too closely.
‘Bums’ live in the street.
But so what?
I was once theirs and they wanted me to know I was not forgotten.
The next day was my day with Pattie Lockard.
Pattie has been not just a fan but a promoter and a helper for years and years.
I discovered her doing PR for Menopause the Musical and now she is the founder and spirit behind Nurse Talk – a call-in and political radio series that explores nurses’ rights, health issues and adventures in the nursing profession. It is a beautiful mix of humor and information and I did several short pieces on the show.
Pattie and I met that day at The Cheesecake Factory which serves portions that would make an elephant flinch and then tops it with a slice of cheesecake that would send the slimmest among us to Weight Watchers.
Then we drove out to her new home in Napa.
Napa is the place that makes all those California wines we buy at Sainsbury’s. It is a charming place filled with vineyards and wineries, Victorian houses and boutique shops.
Pattie’s partner is a working nurse. She is directly involved in the health care system in California and sees first hand the way the insurance companies have profited at the expense of the sick. She is a strong advocate for single pay insurance, as is Pattie. But she is not fond of me.
When I had the misfortune to stay at their home years ago after I broke my heel, Pattie’s partner screamed at me: “You and your Jew ways!” and asked me to leave the house, when I was doing nothing but sitting in her living room with my leg in a cast.
When she heard I was visiting Pattie this time, she left the house to visit a relative.
I spent the night in their home and, at ten the next morning, Pattie came in to tell me I had to leave immediately because her partner was on her way home,
I have encountered many people who do not like me and I have always believed that is their right. After all, if everyone loves you, you are really nothing to anybody.
However, this time I felt a bit miffed because, as far as I know, I have done nothing offensive to this woman to ignite this level of disgust.
I am beginning to understand the insult people feel when they are discriminated against for something that has nothing to do with who they are… and I also realize nothing I can do will change that attitude.
We are all different people and that is a good thing.
I believe this was a very good experience for me to learn compassion for others.
I understand much more completely now how invasive and illogical racism is and how it feels to be hated (such a strong word) by someone you have hardly had a conversation with.
… CONTINUED HERE …