It's 1970, more or less. I drive up to Trader Vic's in my dark blue Beetle, get out, mount the steps, and walk through the front door, maybe alone, maybe with my cinematographer friend and co-trencherman Allen Daviau, maybe even with a date. I have cascading long black hair and what my mother likes to call, with distaste, a Fu Manchu mustache but am wearing a coat and tie; and anyway, they're used to me here. Host Laurence Abbot, always tan and jaunty looking, greets me at the podium and hands me over to some vision of serenity in a flowered dress who leads me to my table. On the way, I stop to exchange pleasantries with Alex Kaluzny, the genial Russian-born manager of the place and a longtime Trader Vic's mainstay (he opened the San Francisco restaurant). As I sit down, my favorite captain, Jack Chew, appears, greeting me like some long-lost relative. Depending on my mood (or my date's mood, if that's an issue), I order a serious rum drink—a tortuga or a suffering bastard, probably—or ask for the wine list and choose something red and good. Then the food starts: Cosmo tidbits, possibly, or at least one or two of the assortment's constituent parts; maybe some cheese bings, little crepe packets of ham and melted cheese. Or, if I'm feeling more like an adult, perhaps some bongo bongo soup (a silky if improbable puree of spinach and oysters) or just a limestone lettuce salad. Next, maybe messy, garlicky pake crab—one of those dishes whose flavorful residue lingers on your fingers for a day, hot towels or not—as an intermediate course. Then, almost certainly, meat: Indonesian lamb roast or Javanese sate or a triple-thick lamb chop, or possibly veal filets in tarragon sauce, a dish long vanished from the menu but still available to those who ask for it. And on the side, pake noodles or cottage-fried potatoes, Chinese peas with water chestnuts, asparagus Chinese style… Alex comes by to ask how I like the wine. Jack wonders whether I'd like some more peanut sauce. The room is glowing. I'm glowing. I smell the meat, the wood, a gardenia. I'm in paradise.