DAVID KRONEMYER: So Judy’s mother flew over from “the zone” for Easter. We went to 10:30 mass, together with the other lapsed Catholics (actually, Judy’s not all that lapsed, nor is her mom, but that’s another story; although, some of our brethren in attendance clearly qualify for that status, seeing as how their doppelgangers are absent at those services conducted in what the order of worship mysteriously refers to as “ordinary time”). Afterwards, we headed off to the (semi-traditional) “Easter Brunch.”
Judy had made reservations a week or so earlier at one of LA’s lovelier brunching establishments. LA being a polyglot, multi-ethnic composite, she spoke with one of her Hispanic sisters, but if the truth be told, was not entirely convinced she successfully had communicated the propositional content of her message, to wit, that she desired to make a reservation for brunch. As Paul Grice pointed out in his famous paper, “Meaning,” 66 Philosophical Review 377 (1957) [reprinted in Strawson, P. (ed.) Philosophical Logic 39 (1967)], “meaning something” (roughly) is equivalent to intending the utterance to produce some effect in the listener by means of the recognition of this intention. I would have to say, particularly in retrospect, that Judy’s conversation with the reservation clerk did not meet this criterion.
And here is the evidence I will cite in support of this conclusion. When we showed up at the aforementioned brunching destination (where, I must add, we have brunched successfully, in the past), the parking valet judiciously apprised us we did not look as though we would “fit in” for the event. Because, unbeknownst to Dr. J, the Easter Brunch had been canceled, and, in its place, had been substituted a Passover celebration. Of course, the aforementioned hotel (wait a minute, I don’t think I aforementioned it at all), in its perspicuity, had failed to apprise us of this change in plans. No wonder all of our Hasidic brethren were looking at us rather suspiciously, what with Judy’s mom sporting a fetching Easter corsage, and such.
So, upon realizing our predicament (what we came to characterize, in the manner of the first Led Zeppelin album, as a “Communication Breakdown”), we decamped back to the car, bereft of brunch alternatives. The parking valet, attempting to be helpful, and no doubt concerned about the onset of further disgruntled brunchers, directed us to other potential brunching destinations. However, they all seemed dubious, so off we went to one of our favorite restaurants in Westwood, which fortunately was able to accommodate us. Where we had a delicious brunch, fueled in no small part by a half-dozen or so Bloody Marys.
But before I tell you anything more, I must relate a curious movement of automotive vehicles that occurred simultaneously with our arrival at the hotel, and then our subsequent departure. Just as we got there, two black BMWs, obviously traveling in convoy, pulled up. Their occupants traipsed into the hotel. The confusion arising as they got out of their cars was exacerbated by a relatively small drive-through portico (for the parking valet), and a hotel attendant who was officiously bustling about in one of those small, golf-cart like conveyances. He must have been in quite a rush, as he started it up and then insisted on weaving it through our two groups, just as everybody was attempting to arrive.
Then, just as we were trying to leave, the entire group from the black BMWs was leaving, too – evidently displeased over the selection of rooms, or some such (though probably not the lack of brunch, as they did not appear to be brunchers). They piled back into their cars, in much confusion, as did we. But the best part is, the hotel attendant then started up his golf cart, again navigating it circuitously through both groups. It almost was like being at Grand Central Station, there was so much bustling about.
So anyway, we got to the restaurant, sat down at a nice table, and proceeded to order. I’m always entertained by eavesdropping on other people’s conversations at adjacent tables – it’s shocking how well sound travels in most restaurants, particularly when the tables are crammed close together, and how little people are concerned for their privacy. It transpires that the table to the left of us, and the table to the right of us, were not content with their food, and were making their complaints known to the wait staff in an increasingly huffy manner. Chagrined, the manager appeared, and took the charges for the offending entrees off their bill – but only after they’d been eaten, with what appeared to be relish on the part of the diners, from my casual observation.
I’ve never sent back food to the kitchen in my life. Rather, I believe you should eat what’s put in front of you, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to come back. It’s ludicrous to make a public display over something so trivial, and I actually cringe when people do so, especially if they’re in my party. But then it occurred to me that, in a weird, post-modern 21st century Southern California kind of way, our fellow diners were performing something akin to the miracle of the loaves and fishes – not completely analogous, but close enough for Easter Brunch.
When we got back home, I was intrigued to read it now was possible to attend a “virtual” church service in which not you, but rather your avatar, participates. Simon, S., “In Second Life, nobody knows you’re a lapsed Catholic,” Los Angeles Times (Apr. 8, 2007). This holds potential, seeing as how it eliminates the annoyances of physical attendance at mass, such as parking, over-heated naves, crying babies, boring homilies, irrelevant Bible readings, mis-performed ritual, etc. Next thing you know, there’ll be a version that includes post-service brunch, too.