B & B

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Forget Airbnb — what about FreeB&B? I just had the best service of my life. Door-to-door service for days in a row. Great hospitality at a B & B reminds me of the worst I’d had at one. Remind me to get back to that.

It started last weekend with an offer from my friend Lynne to pick me up and take me to a show. This performer sings about her vagina. Does anything sound better? I think not. While I hemmed and hawed because I had wanted to visit my son and his girlfriend at their new house in Marin, she invited her other friend. Guess what? Lynne’s husband, a friend since childhood, bought an extra ticket for me, and now it would be three of us. She would still pick me up and drop me off. This was turning out well. Except it would be yet another weekend that I hadn’t gone up north to visit my son. On the way to Hollywood, we stopped at her other friend’s house for a great meal she had cooked – eggplant parmesan. I brought a chunk of the favorite cake I make, a light chocolate with southern pecan frosting. The singer –- Storm Large — blew us away. You cannot get her song, “My Vagina is 8 Miles Wide” out of your head. Catchy tune.

In the morning, with the song still running through my head, I booked a quick trip out of Burbank to Oakland. I informed my son. Oliver told me that Summer, his girlfriend, would collect me at the airport. Then my husband got me to Burbank, no easy feat at 5:00 in the afternoon on a weekday. It took nearly two hours. Though the song was on a loop in my brain, I managed to not sing it out loud to my 30-year old son when he and his girlfriend picked me up in Oakland.

Marin is unchartered territory for me. For several years Oliver lived in San Francisco. I had my favorite haunts like Delfina in the Mission District. I’m a creature of habit. I would wing it and just stick around Oliver’s new hood. He raves about his house, and it is even more impressive in person, decorated exquisitely in mid-century modern furniture. Original hardwood floors. Charming molding. The place kept OCD clean. I was shown to my bedroom which is really it’s own wing of the house. My every need was attended to. Water? He fetched the glass and poured it. Coffee in the morning? Oliver prepared it for me, and while I was drinking it, he went into the bedroom, made the bed and straightened up.

Time to tell you the worst B&B story of my life, compared to the lovely one I had at my son’s house — which isn’t even a real Bed & Breakfast — I just need to vent. My kids were young and I was friends with a movie star. HA! Movie star. An actress. A well known one. I planned a trip back east and wanted to go see what all the fuss was about the Hamptons.  I asked the movie star – let’s call her “Ginger” — about a place to stay there. She told me a frenemy had a Bed & Breakfast and to call her. I asked if I should mention Ginger’s name or not. She thought it would be fine, that their falling out was years ago. Ginger said the ex-friend might be surprised she had recommended the place, but sure, go ahead and mention her name. So, I called. And she did seem thrown, but booked us rooms. She also offered to pick us up at the train station.   I thought wow, this is working out great. UNTIL we got to her beautiful East Hampton clapboard home. She decided we should stay in the attic ,which felt like Siberia. It was so far away from everything. I felt like Anne Frank. Ginger’s ex-friend turned into a nightmare bitch.   After putting us in the attic, but never offering to help with luggage, or help at all, she announced that she wouldn’t be making us breakfast — to just go down to the kitchen in the morning and help ourselves. Then on our first full day, we wanted to find our way to the beach and she wasn’t around at all.  Never made our beds.   No picnic basket, no towels, no directions. Nothing. This was the world’s worst B&B. When she was around, she was nasty.  My kids were afraid of her and asked me if she was a witch. I thought, close.


First day at Oliver’s home in Marin, he took me on a walking tour into the village. I had the best meal of my few days there (not counting Chez Panisse).   A little low key New Orleans-inspired café called Hummingbird. We ordered beignets, scarfed them down and chased it with a lobster benedict that we shared.  I will be going back. Again and again.  We also really loved our crab rolls at Fish.


Crab Rolls in Marin at Fish

Crab Rolls in Marin at Fish

I was pretty sure that Summer would have been happy to drive me back to the Oakland airport, but I wanted to see my surrogate daughter. She’s really my daughter’s best friend Tory and her son, Jackson. Tory drove for well over an hour to pick me up. We went off to Berkeley to eat at my favorite restaurant in the world, except Cal Pep in Barcelona, or maybe I love them equally. We had the most delicious lunch of little gems lettuce with grapefruit, beets, and avocado with chervil, pasta with a chicken ragu and peas for Jackson, and a fried fish with aioli.   For dessert we polished off a slice of gingerbread cake.

Me and Jackson at Chez Panisse Cafe

Me and Jackson at Chez Panisse Cafe

Ginger Cake at Chez Panisse Cafe

Ginger Cake at Chez Panisse Cafe

Then I was dropped at the airport. Instead of asking my husband or ordering a car to pick me up, I sent a late night e-mail to my friend Libbie with the subject saying, “Wacky idea.” Then I presented my pitch. She could pick me up at the airport in Burbank and I wrote in parenthesis: (but I wouldn’t pick anyone up) and we could finally try the new Henry’s Taco’s. She was in!! I have some amazing payback karma if I were judging by just this past weekend. Libbie picked me up, which she gets big points for because driving to Burbank feels like driving to the end of the earth. As Libbie navigated the way to Henry’s, she kept telling me she wouldn’t miss an adventure with me, even one as low rent as trying a taco stand. Of course it’s probably the honeymoon period talking because we were estranged for fifteen years and we really love each other and keep making up for lost time.  We ate the taco’s and agreed that Taco Bell is just as good. Then I had my husband meet us half way so Libbie wouldn’t have to drive all the way to the Palisades. Libbie suggested dropping me at the W hotel where I could surprise my daughter who is a hostess at their restaurant. It was worth the scream she let out when she saw me. There is nothing like family. Nothing like friends and nothing like great food to make a few perfect days. I’m going back soon to stay at the best Bed and Breakfast ever – Oliver’s house. You can find the inn keepers each day at 6:30 in the morning, hugging each other, sitting in one chair drinking their coffee. Of course if you’re like me, you will go back to bed for a few more hours.

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6 Responses to “B & B”

  1. Pauli says:

    Wow. Where to begin? This is better than a really good Carson opening set.
    No one can weave the spell of an 8 mile vagina better than you. Great to know that Oliver and Summer know how to treat you as the Queen you are.
    Loved every morsel!

  2. Laura Plotkin says:

    Yum. Good food, loved ones and adventure…a perfect weekend!

  3. We just moved back from our part-time home in San Anselmo, just a haf’a mile from The Hummingbird Cafe. You are a very lucky woman to have eaten at such a unique place. Even luckier to have had Oliver and Summer to stay with. There are only 3 othe worthwhile places to eat in all of Marin. They shall remain a secret until we do Santa Monica Seafood ;~)

  4. Libbie lane says:

    Love being taken on your adventures through your stories and in life . I am so lucky. But uh oh just got asked For a pick up friend @ LAX

  5. Doreen Ringer Ross says:

    I want your life……..xoxoxo

  6. jennifer dudley arbaugh says:

    Mr Oli has STYLE and exquisite taste…. AND. I cannot get the VAGINA tune out of my head. U are right… Catchy tune. Just walked on the Charlevoix dock with Searay humming the song… will have to put The Girl From Ipanema in my head to stop the music! Great stuff. Always.


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