Sure, we tell people, it’s because we love the town, stayed
in the same cute condo in January, and because there were
9 nights over Christmas when it was available, and our family
didn’t mind our absence, and if actual winter—gray cotton tule
fog or the slim chance of rain—descended on the northern part
of the state, then we’d have a nifty escape into the desert,
which, truth to tell, does have winter, too—it’s not always
85 degrees in bright sun, it does rain, and palm trees can
weather cold just fine, it turns out. But we knew better.
We knew that in our hearts, it wasn’t completely about
the weather or the champagne cork swimming pool
or the ease of escaping our regular lives for a bit.
We came for Sherman’s, and even before we got the keys
to our condo, we headed over to what might be the best
Jewish deli in the state, mid-afternoon, a 10-minute wait,
a curved booth in the back with a view of the whole
joint, celebrities’ signed photos polka-dotting the walls.
We came for the meatloaf sandwich and the pastrami.
We came for the extra potato salad and dill pickles.
One of us really came for the ginormous chocolate eclairs,
and the other one for the liver and onions, and has
developed a fondness for the red velvet cake. It doesn’t
matter. It’s all perfection on a plate or bowl, for which
I thank Marty Weisinger, my father’s Army buddy, who
introduced my sister and me to our first Jewish deli when
we were kids quite unused to dill pickles and pastrami,
a man whose molecules have to be floating around here
somewhere with the aroma of chicken soup in the pot and
matzoh balls being rolled in the kitchen, and yes, the joint
will be jumping on Christmas Day with the spirits of those
who loved the place in life, too, who give us their blessing
as we eat, knowing we’ll take half of it to go—yes, thank you,
we’d love some extra pickles—and we’ll be back for more.
(Photos / Dick Schmidt)