This is an account of an experience I had in San Francisco, a “what a small world” experience that all of us have. What I mean is an incident in our lives where, when talking about someone, or meeting someone for the first time, it turns out that there is a connection between that person and yourself that was totally unexpected; or, a person or a place that is mutually and particularly special to the two of you; or, unexpectedly bumping into someone in an unlikely place.
This occurred in an Italian restaurant in North Beach, San Francisco where I had dinner with some friends. We had made reservations for 8pm for, if I remember right, six people. This happened more than twenty years ago so I may not remember all the details. Anyway, we arrived fifteen minutes late and because it was a popular restaurant, our reserved table had been given to someone else. That of course didn’t please us and we told this to the receptionist. She explained we should have called but that didn’t stop us from “harassing” her, albeit playfully. She was an American in her early twenties, amiable, pleasant looking if not cute, and she was earnestly apologetic so we didn’t come down on her too hard. We were late after all. So the argument got friendly and we were teasingly making her feel guilty while she continued to explain and apologize and promised us a table soonest. The conversation soon turned into asking about each other. She was newly married to a French man she had met in College in another state, I forget which one now but somewhere in the east coast. He, too, was in his 20’s and they had just both moved to San Francisco and were only on their 2nd week there and, oh, they had a 2 year old son. Of course, we were Filipinos, we answered, when asked where we were from. And to that, she replied she thought so. No, she had not been to the Philippines but had met a “wonderful” Filipino family just that summer. She explained that her father in law owned two villas in the French Riviera in a town just outside Cannes. During the summer, they would vacation there and stay in one of the villas and the other, they rented out and this is where she met the Filipinos. This family, an elderly couple whom we shall call Mr. and Mrs. X, with their 5 children and a few friends of the children occupied the other villa the family had rented from her father in law for a month. She got to know them well, both the children and their parents, and with her husband, spent a lot of time with them and especially enjoyed the food, Filipino and other cuisine, that Mrs. X cooked. My friend who had been doing most of the asking looked at me and then back at her and asked how she viewed that family. She had plenty of good things to say but also that they were “crazy” but she added, “crazy in a nice way.” She said she had learned a lot talking to Mr. X who she said was very smart, partied a lot with the siblings, and enjoyed immensely the Filipino food she had gotten to taste as she began to enumerate the various dishes she remembered the names of like adobo, sinigang na salmon, lumpia, and other stuff. By this time, I already knew who the Filipino family was and so did my friend but we didn’t let her into it yet. So, she continued on telling us about this family and the fun they had that summer. And then she mentioned that there was another sibling who was unable to join them who lived in San Francisco and that Mrs. X had given her his number for her to call and meet once she got there. She said she was going to do that some time in the coming weekend. At that point, my friend interrupted her and said she need not call him because she was already talking to him as he pointed at me. She was of course astounded and, with mouth agape, began to see my resemblance to my siblings and parents and after a few speechless seconds, she gave me a big hug and I too embraced her like we had known each other for a long time. Backtracking a bit, in our conversation earlier, she mentioned that Mr. X was the former Philippine Ambassador to the UK but had resigned when Marcos was taken to Hawaii. She said she was familiar with Marcos as a leader and was sympathetic towards him. Thank God she had said that because after she hugged me, I introduced her to the rest of our group, one who was the son of Marcos, the other, the daughter, and the one who, with me, was talking to her too was the son in law.
She eventually seated us and we asked her to join our table and she and I continued our conversation but this time with a much warmer disposition one to the other. She called her husband on the phone and I got to speak to him and he came over to the restaurant and I invited them over for drinks in my place after dinner. Small world, huh? But guess what? Turns out they lived in the building right next to where I lived which they had moved into just the day before. Small world got even smaller. It’s a small world indeed.
I have lost touch with them but, in the remote possibility that they get to read this, they know what to do. It would be nice to hear from them again.