I was in Ventura at Lure, one of my favorite restaurants. If you haven’t been, treat yourself the next time you are visiting your mansion in Montecito.

“Treat yourself” makes the food sound expensive, but the prices are fair and people can live with fair. My usual order is a cup of clam chowder —- half New England, half Veracruz —- also called a side-by-side followed by a bowl of PEI Steamed Mussels in a roasted, tomato herb sauce.

After your server brings warm rolls with soft butter, and don’t you love soft butter, your stock rises because your companions have no choice but to dip their bread in the communal bowl filled with the roasted tomato herb sauce, a bowl which becomes so clean you can see your reflection in it.

I had gone surfing. You’re never hungrier than after playing in the waves and salt water like a child. Never happier even without a visit to your Montecito mansion.

I entered the restaurant alone, happy to be alone because Lure is the kind of place that welcomes aloneness without calling attention to it.

I ordered and began devouring a warm roll slathered with soft butter when an attractive blonde woman walked through the door. She wasn't Sue because Sue was in Bakersfield, but she might have been Sue because they floated on the same attractiveness plane.

The woman conferred with the hostess and after surveying the restaurant, turned to me and asked, “Mike?”

Granted, I was closest to the door and the first person she saw who was dining alone, but if we have any say so in our destiny, can we not have that same freedom to interpret events along the way to fulfilling that destiny?

In other words, I could have been Mike. Nothing was stopping me from being Mike. Did I not look like I could look like Mike?

To quote Shakespeare from “The Merchant of Venice” :

I am a Jew (Mike).

Hath not a Jew (Mike) eyes?

Hath not a Jew (Mike) hands, organs,

dimensions, senses, affections, passions?

fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject

to the same diseases, healed by the same means,

warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as

a Christian is?

If you prick us (Mikes), do we not bleed?

if you tickle us (again Mikes), do we not laugh?”

The point being this elegant blonde thought I was Mike and I was flattered to have been taken for Mike, a Mike or any Mike for that matter.

She was on a blind date, one generated possibly from a dating site like Match, Bumble or eharmony and either the blonde woman or Mike had the good sense to make Lure the place they might get comfortable with one another.

“No, I am not Mike,” I said.

She smiled, fanned her gaze toward the tables to the left of the bar and soon found Mike, an incredibly handsome, fit man, with a shaved head who was probably 20 years younger than I was sitting in a booth facing the door.

In case, you skipped the last paragraph, Mike was young, handsome, had a great smile and probably had a mansion in Montecito like many of us Mikes do.

She walked quickly to his table, they shook hands and proceeded to have lunch. Occasionally, I looked over and, although you can never tell how these things are going, they were smiling and talking. As one Mike to another, I was rooting for their success.

I was beaming. Mistaken for Mike? I could ride that compliment train to the promised land and back.

The clam chowder was delicious. So were the mussels. The glass of Meiomi Pinot Noir had never tasted better.

“Mike” was happy. Mike was happy for Mike and all the other Mikes past and present.

Herb Benham is a columnist for the Bakersfield Californian and can be reached at hbenham@bakersfield.com or (661) 395-7279.

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