Stefanella's Drive Thru

Israel, U.S., conflict, war, peace, humor, travel, romance, fashion, fun

Heroin (NOT) Chic August 18, 2009

On a recent visit to San Francisco, I was breakfasting with a group of people at a semi-dive-diner place in the Upper Haight when my brother motioned toward the booth opposite us.

“It’s going to take them a while to get through the meal,” he commented with a grin.

I looked over at the couple he had indicated: A male and female in their mid-twenties, both tattooed and pierced – typical Haight fare.  They sat opposite each other with hands resting on the table cluttered with uneaten plates of assorted breakfast fare.  Their eyes were closed.

“Oh, they’re saying Grace,” I mused internally.  Because where I live these days aka Holy Land Central or Israel, that type of thing is plausible.  Heck, I’ve seen groups of German tourists on a busy Tel Aviv street corner holding hands with heads bowed praying for…Well I have no idea, actually.  A break in traffic?  Good beach weather?  Ideal photographic lighting conditions?  I dunno.

Then I peered more closely at the couple, their heads lolling.  Oh  Wow! the realization dawned.  They’ve dosed on heroin.

It’s been years since I’ve lived in close proximity to the urban drug culture and all it entails: addicts sprawled in doorways, eyes at half mast as the heroin high hits, crack fiends pacing nervously, their movements disjointed and stiff, wayward alcoholics with red faces and crusty clothing rambling incoherently from front stoops.

My stomach dropped and I felt nauseous.  This is insane.  We’re sitting in a restaurant and they’re dosing. My San Francisco dwelling companions snickered and rolled their eyes in a sort of  Oh God, the neighbors misbehaving AGAIN sort of way. I forced myself not to stare.

Later, my brother confided:  That was gross, man.  Totally sick.



Elder Care Perils July 22, 2008


Stefanella: Middle aged single mom supporting self and son via a writing and journalism career. Stefanella is energetic, cynical, oft unecessarily stressed & sometimes abrasive. She has a wicked sense of humor and a keen appreciation of the arts and fashion.

Raphael: Stefanella’s mature-for-his-age 6-year-old son.  Raphael is sensitive, flexible and very friendly.  He laughs often and gets along well with peers.  He plays fair and corrects his mother when she doesn’t.

Savta Rutee: Stefanella’s mother, Raphael’s grandmother.  Rutee nee “Patricia”, as she’s referred to by people other than her grandchildren, retired in 2007 after a decades’ long career in senior care nursing.  Rutee is kind and considerate and tries her utmost to “do the right thing”.  A model citizen, she follows the rules and doesn’t drink, swear or run red lights.


Breakfast table in the kitchen nook of Savta Rutee’s semi-ornate suburban Ohio home.  It’s a bright summer morning and sun streams through triple bay window panels.

Stefanella and Raphael, visiting from Israel, are readying themselves to go out for the day.  Stefanella prepares Raphael’s summer camp lunch, Savta Rutee pours coffee and Raphael, seated in his place at the round table, maneuvers toys between bites of buttered bagel and watermelon cubes.  Beside his gold and maroon place setting he has laid out several 1.5 inch diameter, gray and brown stones retrieved while hiking the previous day.

Rutee (moving closer to Raphael, alarm in her voice): “What’s that next to your plate!?”

Raphael: “They’re rocks.  Aren’t they pretty?”

Rutee (sighing with relief) : “Oh thank god.  I thought it was fece– Well never mind”

Stefanella (eyebrow raised): “Are you kidding?  Why would you think something crazy like that, Mom?”

Rutee: “It used to happen all the time in the dining room at the home.  Good old Mr. Weinberg or Mrs. Keltisch would be sitting there eating breakfast and right next to the plate would be a few–

Stefanella: “Okay.  Thanks.  You can spare the graphics.  We ARE having breakfast.”

silence ensues as Stefanella contemplates.  Raphael, not mature enough to have honed in on THIS talk, continues eating & playing with his toys

Stefanella: “But wait.  How on earth did it get up there on the table?”

Rutee: “They’d pull it out and put it up there.  Just like that.”

Stefanella: “Oh god.  Thanks”

–cut to black–