My friend, a budding screenwriter from New York, comes to Beverly Hills to take a meeting. She suggests that we do lunch, explaining that when in Beverly Hills, one does lunch, then takes a meeting.
Fine. But where to do lunch? I do not do lunch much in Beverly Hills, what with alimony, child support, and so on. "You live in L.A. and don't know where to do lunch?" my friend asks. "You must be a rube."
"Everyone in Beverly Hills is a rube, only they pay more," I explain. "Come, let us stroll up Rodeo Drive and see if there is a McDonald's."
Well, we soon learn there is no McDonald's on Rodeo Drive, only a bunch of foreign consulates selling jewelry and Italian suits. But I suddenly sight a pleasant-looking outdoor cafe full of languid people in sunglasses.
(It apparently is a hangout for rebels. Not one of the men has the permanent two-day growth of beard so common to Hollywood. But I digress.)
"A class joint," I tell my friend. "I just remembered that I do lunch there all the time."
We walk over. A pleasant, willowy young waitress who is quite hubba-hubba seats us and brings iced tea. The menu identifies our haven as the Daisy.
"Lordy," my friend says as she scans the menu. It is not the prices that boggle her mind. It is the various offerings. They are named for various people, some quite well known. Johnny Carson, for example, is a chicken sandwich. Warren Beatty is liver and onions. Frank Sinatra is a roast beef sandwich. Jane Fonda is fresh fruit with assorted cheese, while Jack Lemmon is fresh fruit with cottage cheese.
Robert Redford is "avocado tomato mushrooms sprouts melted cheese sandwich." Brigitte Nielsen, Sylvester Stallone's other half, is orange juice squeezed to order. But Mr. Stallone is not on the menu, no doubt because he would be two hand grenades on wheat toast or something.
Steve Garvey, who plays baseball, is simply "ask to see our dessert tray."
"Look, there's me, Jay," I tell my friend. "I'm chili with toasted English muffin."
"That's Jax," she sighs, checking the menu. "Now tell me, who is Jimmy Raskin? He is billed here as a tuna sandwich."
"I don't know," I tell her.
"Ricci Martin, the grilled cheese sandwich?"
"Beats heck out of me."
"Mia Valencia, the chocolate truffle cake?"
"I think they also named a town in Ventura County for her."
"And Bill Zupner, the quiche lorraine?"
"He used to be with the Zupner family. They ran a Bulgarian restaurant here. Very romantic place. It had strolling gypsy tuba players."
"You are lying through your rented teeth," my friend says. "You don't know anybody who is anybody in Beverly Hills."
She decides on Linda Evans, the vegetable salad with chicken.
"I will have the Jay," I tell the waitress.
"You mean the Jax?" she asks.
"No, the Jay."
"I don't see a Jay."
"But this is Beverly Hills. Surely you must be able to make a Jay."
My friend sighs again. "He will have the Rube," she tells the waitress.
My hamburger was not as filling as a McDonald's. But it was close.