Kirby always got a charge out of the fans and shenanigans at the San Diego ComicCon, but always slept for three hours on the trip home. And, more often then not, Roz as well, after a couple. I missed our exit once because I didn’t want to wake her to ask directions. When I finally did, it was an “Oy Vey” moment, but we got home okay in the end.
Schwartz usually nodded off in the last third and I finally had nobody to talk to about old Jazz and Comics.
Me, dog-tired at the end of the drive and the three of them refreshed for dinner. We always had San Diego Sunday dinner at Canter’s Deli in Thousand Oaks, on the way back to the mountaintop retreat.
The place was very Jewish, as Thousand Oaks seemed to be. Big New York-style menu attempting to lure you with laminated pictures of brisket and corned beef. Jack would dig out his glasses and look over the whole deal and when the question arose from the waitress, “Well, what’s everybody going to have?” Jack always piped up with his order, then, Roz, who knew the menu like the back of her hand told Kirby what he was going to eat and it never looked like there was a fight in him about it.
Roz had an allergy to wheat, so she always ordered corn-bread and never chocolate cake: both doing without what was bad for them. Roz always took care of Jack and in the end, that was always the thing he counted on.
“Anybody want dessert?” the kind of young, kind of not-Jewish waitress would ask at the end of the meal.
“Yea,” Kirby called out every time. “I’d like a piece of chocolate cake.”
Roz responded every time with , “No, nothing for us, we’re fine, just the check.”
Now, I had my eye the same brown layer-cake in the chrome display case, but if Roz and Jack couldn’t have any, who was I to complain? And while it was never discussed, it seemed like there was some kind of blood sugar condition there.
Then, back up the mountain to Chez Kirby where their second wave of weary kicked in, though my first hadn’t yet been serviced.
Mission accomplished: I got the three people I’d admired a lot home safely after a very hard thing. I did it for almost a decade and it was always a delight and a demand to drive relatives around.
If I killed these three icons in a gigantic auto crash and walked away from it unscathed on the San Diego Freeway, I’d be the pariah of the Comics community until my death and well past.
And believe me, I swerved more than once on that three-lane three-hour tour to avoid sheared-off tires from disabled semis. And, for a decade, it always woke a whole load of old people and made my hands sweat on the wheel even more every time
“What da Hell just happened?!” Julie awakened, would always exclaim.
In a car full of Jews, I prayed to Jesus about this thing, again and again, seemed like my every late summer thing again.
So, it’s Sunday night and Jules and I have to get back to our hotel in L.A. and time is a’wastin’.
Warm good-byes at the door from the Kirbys, then following us to our rental car with salutations, then more warm good-byes and thrown kisses as we rolled away at a frightening incline, brakes all of the way down Sapra Street. Okay, if I only kill Julie Schwartz, the crime might be forgiven.
Still, if it happened, the Kirbys might see it, then where would I be?
When you are Kato to three old Jewish Green Hornets you have to believe that “My Kung-Fu is better than your Kung-Fu,” and ride the brake when needed.
And if you are driving North on the San Diego Freeway, swerve when you have to, but try not to wake any of the older relatives.