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The Case of the P.B. Mermaid

All manner of stuff sails in through the open windows here at Alice Inquiries and Pedicures, LLC. Some of it from places not very near us at all. A few weeks ago we found a small scrap of paper that had landed in the office coffee pot. Turns out it was a puzzler from two S.D. expats now in Florida. (California with humidity, I call it.) We could tell from the plaintive tone that they had exhausted all hope of ever answering this question and finally turned to us. What was the name of the restaurant on Mission (near/at Grand/Garnet) that had a big mermaid mural painted on an exterior wall? When she read the question, Grandma Alice was immediately transported to her long-gone hippie days by the pier, selling carrot juice and macramé out of the back of her van. "The mermaid! Holding a globe, wasn't she? I remember her, but the restaurant name not so much."

We left Grandma to reminisce while we got on the blower to confirm her memory. Now, the elves are well connected in beachy areas, but the usual posse was of no help at all. Many blank stares and guttural thinking sounds and sighing.

"The surfer painted on the side of Taco Surf?" someone offered weakly.

No. A mermaid. The globe part is optional.

"Well, I dunno, pal."

But Grandma is relentless. Time for the big guns, I guess. Mr. P.B. History, John Fry.

"You're hallucinating," sez he. "Never existed. A perfect example of confabulation. Happens all the time. Hardly anybody has a correct memory of Old P.B."

Well, we could believe that. Same with O.B. and Leucadia, I'd bet. But Grandma would not be silenced. "I remember her, Matthew! Don't tell me I'm just a dizzy old dame. Keep looking."

John was most accommodating, considering the pressure we applied. To get us to go away, he offered up some P.B. classics: Billiard Den? (Naw; bikers, not mermaids.) Swan Song? Old P.B. Café? The Greenery? Nothing hit the spot with Grandma. Though she does remember meeting Mr. and Mrs. Dr. Seuss at the Greenery, where there were so many hanging plants Grandma accidentally put Thousand Island on a fern, mistaking it for the house salad; and her date slipped out of the place, sticking her with the tab, since she couldn't see him very well through the decorative underbrush.

So, we turn to all of you in Aliceland. Did P.B. have a mermaid? If so, where? The first believable answer (with unimpeachable sourcing and backup) will win our usual coveted prize, a year of free Readers. In the meantime, since our Florida folks seem to share Grandma's hallucination, I guess we'll pass the time comparing medication tips.

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