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Tales of the City 04 - Babycakes

Tales of the City 04 - Babycakes

Titel: Tales of the City 04 - Babycakes
Autoren: Armistead Maupin
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A Royal Welcome
S HE WAS FIFTY-SEVEN YEARS OLD WHEN SHE SAW SAN Francisco for the first time. As her limousine pulled away from the concrete labyrinth of the airport, she peered out the window at the driving rain and issued a small sigh over the general beastliness of the weather.
“I know,” said Philip, reading her mind, “but they expect it to clear today.”
She returned his faint smile, then searched in her handbag for a tissue. Since leaving the Reagans’ ranch she’d felt a mild case of the sniffles coming on, and she was dashed if she’d let it get the best of her.
The motorcade veered onto a larger highway—a “freeway,” she supposed—and soon they were plunging headlong into the rain past lurid motels and posters of nightmare proportions. To her left loomed a treeless hillside, so unnaturally green that it might have been Irish. There were words on it, rendered in white stones: SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO—THE INDUSTRIAL CITY.
Philip saw the face she made and leaned forward to study the curious hieroglyphic.
“Odd,” he murmured.
“Mmm,” she replied.
She could only hope that they had not yet arrived in the city proper. This tatty commercial district could well be the equivalent of Ruislip or Wapping or one of those horrid little suburbs in the vicinity of Gatwick Airport. She mustn’t imagine the worst just yet.
Her original plan had been to arrive in San Francisco on board the Britannia —an operation that would have entailed the pleasant prospect of sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge. The sea had become quite treacherous, however, by the time she reached Los Angeles, and the same storms that had brought six California rivers to flood level would almost certainly have played havoc with her undependable tummy.
So she had settled on this somewhat less than majestic entrance via aeroplane and automobile. She would spend the night in a local hotel, then reinstate herself on the Britannia when it arrived in the harbor the following day. Since she was almost sixteen hours ahead of schedule, this evening’s time was completely unclaimed, and the very thought of such gratuitous leisure sent surprising little shivers of anticipation down her spine.
Where would she dine tonight? The hotel, perhaps? Or someone’s home? The question of whose home was a sticky one at best, since she had already received feverish invitations from several local hostesses, including—and here she shuddered a bit—that dreadful petrol woman with all the hair.
She dismissed the issue of dinner for the moment and once more turned her attention to the passing scene. The rain seemed to have slacked a tiny bit, and here and there in the slate-gray skies a few dainty patches of blue had begun to make themselves known. Then the city materialized out of nowhere—a jumble of upended biscuit boxes that reminded her vaguely of Sydney.
“Look!” crowed Philip.
He was pointing to a dazzling rainbow that hovered like a crown above the city.
“How perfectly splendid,” she murmured.
“Indeed. Their protocol people are more thorough than I thought.”
Feeling giddier by the minute, she giggled at his little joke. It seemed appropriate to commemorate the moment by a cheery wave to the citizenry, but public assembly was quite impossible along this major artery, so she ignored the impulse and set about the task of repairing her lipstick.
The rain had diminished to a drizzle by the time the motorcade descended from the highway into a region of lowlying warehouses and scruffy cafés. At the first intersection, the limousine slowed dramatically and Philip signaled her with a nod of his head.
“Over there, darling. Your first well-wishers.”
She turned her head slightly and waved at several dozen people assembled on the street corner. They waved back vigorously, holding aloft a black leather banner on which the words GOD SAVE THE QUEEN had been imprinted in silver rivets. It was not until she heard them cheer that she realized they were all men.
Philip smirked sleepily.
“What?” she asked.
“Poofs,” he said.
“There, darling. With the banner.”
She glanced back at them and saw that they were standing outside a building called the Arena. “Don’t be silly,” she replied. “They’re sportsmen of some sort.”
    Mrs. Halcyon’s Scoop
T O COMMEMORATE THE COMING OF ELIZABETH II, THE Marina Safeway had run specials all week on English muffins, Imperial margarine and Royal Crown Cola. The Flag Store on Polk Street had
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