When I was about 10 years old, my aunt invited our whole family to come down to Orange County for dinner at an expensive restaurant by the beach. Gathering any number of my family members can bring on many challenges, ranging from inappropriate mentions of previous discrepancies to the ever popular one-on-one fistfight, but that day was different.
Maybe it’s because my feeble mind was busy soaking up every ounce of non-hillbilly etiquette, saving it for later use to blend in when I would escape my desert prison, but my family had an amazing dinner. There was lobster, enough steak for seconds, and the sides barely fit on our giant table.
What I remember most from that special day was my uncle, who loved being the smartest man in the room, telling the seven children seated at the table that our waiter also happened to be an actor who played in my personal favorite movie ever, Howard the Duck. I still remember my heart exploding with joy at the thought of meeting someone who actually got the chance to speak with an extraterrestrial mallard that had on-camera intercourse with Lea Thompson. Not only was Howard my hero, but his documentary has the extreme honor of being the very first Marvel movie ever made. Go ahead, Google it.
I spoke with our server, whom I was told was named Tim, and asked him every question I could about filming my favorite biopic. He was nice enough, but I had a few reservations about why a seasoned actor like him would be serving us in a dimly lit seafood restaurant in Newport Beach on a Sunday. My uncle explained to me the frustrations of being an actor in California, and I left it at that. He was the smartest man in the room, after all.
Fast forward to this last Monday, nearly 25 years later, when my mother and I took a ride up to Malibu for some of my favorite oysters at the historic Neptune’s Net. After selecting a half dozen of the freshest sea-boogers the ocean has to offer, I busied myself with rolling up some spirit-enhancing flowers from the folks at Blüm, located in Santa Ana’s “Green Zone.” As I thought back on that day and realized that it kickstarted a series of events that led me to my current position, I remembered that waiter, and my uncle, who is a goddamn liar.
Tim Robbins was never a server in Newport Beach in the early ’90s and after an intense Google search, I can say that he was probably busy directing the hit crime drama Dead Man Walking, starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, in Louisiana on the night of our dinner. I sat there thinking about how sometimes, a lie can bring about extraordinary things, like a moon landing or a stoner from the desert making it in OC. Even though my uncle will never receive another Christmas card from me until he apologizes, I am also thankful that I got to shake hands with a confused server who inevitably taught me that when you’re in the restaurant business, sometimes you have to lie to children to get a good tip.
If you’re ever driving up Highway 1, Neptune’s Net is on the right. Happy smoking!
Neptune’s Net, 42505 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu, CA 90265. (310) 457-3095; neptunesnet.com.