i keep it a surprise until we arrive at the ice skating rink. our daughter, isabel, had been begging (dogging) us for weeks to take her. she is my valentine’s date tonight and far too singular a being to be taken to a simple dinner and a movie. you don’t do something pedestrian with a female of isabel’s caliber. so i take her into the city, to yerba buena gardens and the ice skating rink. we skate around and around and dance and twirl. i actually manage not to fall, which is shocking. i am there every time isabel does though. i know that won’t always be the case, but it’s nice for now.
afterward she asks me to surprise her with dinner. i know i can get away with anything and money isn’t falling from trees these days (not sure if it ever was). But, again, there is the realization that her grace demands the extraordinary. i take her to a restaurant called citizen cake. it is owned by a master baker and chef and someone whom isabel has seen on her favorite tv show, iron chef. we park on gough st. right near the opera house and walk down. i had prepped her that it was likely we wouldn’t get a seat on saturday at 6:15, especially on v-day. however, her karma is in force and we are seated at the window with a view of all the opera attendees on their way to the performance, in their fancy dress. isabel and i remark on everyone that passes.
the waitress whispers in my ear that they can do a grilled cheese for her and i laugh. “oh no,” i say, “she has a more refined palate than i do.” so we order the cauliflower soup, the cheese plate and the scallops in beurre blanc. the waitress brings isabel a virgin mojito with vanilla syrup and it is pretty phenom. isabel loves everything, but remarks that the truffle oil was a little heavy handed in the beurre blanc. no one’s perfect i tell her. for desert, we are brought three distinct cupcakes chocolate death, vanilla creme and chocolate cherry. this puts both of us into a food coma and i get a cup of coffee to ensure a safe trip back to the sticks.
as we drive home she is amazed at the city lights and the view after dark in the city. she’s normally in bed by 7, far away from the cityscape. she asks if we can listen to “pirate skulls and bones” our current favorite song. i put it on and as we sing along i reflect on the words. It’s really called “paper planes”. it is a hip hop song by a young indian woman named m.i.a. a tale about black market passports, cell phones and drugs, a socio-political statement. the chorus is a sample of a gun shot and a cash register and though i intentionally change the words, i realize it may not be appropriate.
i don’t really care, now. but will i care in 5 years, when she’s 13? will i be enthralled by her precociousness and her adult tastes? maybe not, but i’m here now and i love sharing my experience with her; as a father and a fellow connoisseur.