USF: University Good Eats CafeThe University Cafe had a sign over the door with Good Eats in the middle so everyone called it the University Good Eats Cafe. Very few university people ate there even though it was only a block from the campus. Lee and I had lunch a few times, but the grey lady who ran it was so motherly and her tables and chairs were arranged so neatly and everything in her place was so spotlessly clean and the food was so boringly bland we could only stand it as a focus for ridicule of America in the 50s. It was so ordinary that I remember thinking how absurd it was to see a stereotypical poet like Irving Lowe who quit a job at Random House to make blankets with the Navaho and couldnt make enough to get out for twenty years but finally got to Stanford and thence to us in Puritan Literature drinking tea there alone, looking beaten. He deserved better, but never got it. George and Ksenya Aleksiev bought the place. They were Russian and got to San Francisco by way of Brazil and could barely speak English and didnt change a thing at first at the University Good Eats except by being there, which changed everything. She cooked and cleaned in the back, short, smiling through steam under a white babushka. He waited on tables and registered the cash, plodding, baggy pants, always the same greasy hand-painted tie. Lee laughed at the tie, and we both laughed at Georges English at first. No matter what you ordered, even pointed to on the menu, George would bring you something else. Later he learned the menu items so our laughter shifted to imitating his accent (Hahm-boo-goo) or commenting on his attire in words he didnt know. Lee would ask him how many spoons long his dick was: Come on George, put it out there! Match that! (two spoons end-to-end) I hope George didnt understand. Two years later I was starving. Literally. I showed up at George-and-Ksenyas University-Good-Eats-Cafe just before fainting, just before closing time and asked if I could eat on credit. Poor boy, whispered George, patting my head. You wait. When the customers were gone George came out of the kitchen beaming (the only time I ever saw him so lively) with a platter of baked potatoes, an enormous bowl of Stroganoff (they had worked a few Russian dishes into the menu), an eight-ounce water glass of vodka. Good boy, he patted and beamed. And I ate (as much as I could get down) and he drank with me. Ksenya cleaned up in the kitchen Sit, boy! smiling-frowning-waving away my offer of help. That went on for over a year: showing up at five minutes to eight, ordering the cheapest thing on the menu (the fried egg sandwich), and eating stroganoff, baked potatoes, Russian ravioli, chicken Kiev, rum cake. They gave me their first slice of Easter cake, the tube-cake made in a coffee can with XB frosted on the side. I hated religion and cried. Someone told me years later after George and Ksenya had sold the shop and retired that they had lost a son my age in Brazil.