We saved the best for last (but if you tell Thom I said that, of course I will deny everything). Thursday was the day we met our dear friends, Michelle, Harrison (aka GOB), Ash, and Mia for the first time. In the here and now, in the flesh.
Michelle is even more beautiful than I realized. I think the first thing I blurted out to her was "you're so pretty!", followed by "you're a lot taller than I thought!". I am nothing if not eloquent. GOB had already charmed me with his irresistible laugh and his irrepressible humour when we spoke on the phone and he continued to be as fascinating and utterly charming as he is online and over the wires. Ash and Mia were simply lovely girls, smart, polite, and so tolerant of a quartet of embarrassing parents slobbering all over each other and them.
It was a little reminiscent of the meeting of the Russian mafia clans in Eastern Promises, with a street corner exchange of paper bags bearing gifts of goodwill, except that there were no nude knife fights in the steam bath. Michelle knit the most gorgeous scarves for the Spousal Unit and me, and a totally fierce skullcap for the Resident Offspring. If I didn't suck at wearing hats, I would steal it in a heartbeat.
We wandered down to Pike's Place Market, where the entire population of the American northwest had also apparently decided to spend the morning shuffling slowly from shop to shop. We checked out an intriguingly smelly herb shop, a mouth-watering Italian market with some amazing looking cheeses that were just begging to be purchased and spend the day inside a suitcase on the way back to Calgary. Common sense did prevail in the end.
We stopped by Pike's fish market - the place where the staff famously throws fish at each other, but only saw a small bag of fillets being tossed to the cashier. Not quite the impact of a whole salmon flying in an arc across the market, but pretty cool nonetheless. The Resident Offspring found a screenplay of Trainspotting (for educational purposes) at a collectibles shop that GOB and Michelle claim hasn't changed one iota since they were kids.
By this time, we were all jonesing for some refreshments pretty badly, so went in search of food and drink. Now you have to understand that our friends actually live across the straight from Seattle, so understandably they are not actually privy to insider information on the Seattle dining scene. They had a couple of places in mind, but these had all morphed into some other entity, so we eventually stumbled upon Luigi's Grotto, which looked very promising - a below stairs Italian restaurant in the fabulous Pioneer Square district.
At this point, I will let my friend GOB describe what went down. He has started penning restaurant reviews/public service announcements about the shoddy business practices of this place. I urge you to please read them and be forewarned if you are ever in Seattle, looking for a place to eat. Evidently others have also been scammed at this restaurant. The Spousal Unit and I just keep getting more and more disgusted, the more we have time to ruminate on the way we were all taken advantage of by the shyster running this place. Trust me, you have not heard the end of things on this.
However, we were able to sit and chat and get to know one another face to face while we were being ripped off, so some good did come of it, and I will always cherish the time that we broke bread with our friends, but I feel increasingly badly that I did not speak up and demand to see a menu. Shortly after the obligatory photo shoots in the leafy green space of Pioneer Square, we had to say farewell. Now I am working on how we can entice them up to Calgary to crash at Casa Zombie for a few days. A couple of evenings around the firepit with several bottles of wine and we'll have figured out a way to make that Luigi bastard sorry he ever crossed our paths.
Coming up - actual photos of our trip!