My Lunch with Jerry Garcia

I will now tell you my Jerry Garcia story. To appreciate it, you must remember that Jerry was missing part of a finger on one hand.

I was having lunch with a close friend in a crappy Mexican place on Telegraph Ave in Berkeley, California; it must have been about 1983. The restaurant was called La Villa Hermosa, and is long gone. (There is a photo of it here.)

Sitting at the next table was a bearded man who looked familiar. I studied him carefully, while eating my refried beans. Eventually I figured it out. I nudged my mathematician friend gently under the table and said softly, “Hey, that’s Jerry Garcia over there.”

She looked over doubtfully, and said, “That’s not Jerry Garcia.”

I insisted, “Yes, it is.”

So my friend, who was never one to observe social niceties despite being only a little more than five feet tall, stood up, walked over, put her hands on her hips and demanded of him, “Are you Jerry Garcia?”

He looked at her, held up one hand (clearly missing part of a finger), and said, “No, Jerry Garcia is missing a finger on the other hand.”

She came back to my table, satisfied, and announced smugly, “See? I told you so. That wasn’t him. Jerry Garcia is missing a finger on the other hand.”

I swear it’s true!


  1. blf says

    He he.

    My own “dinner with…” story — albeit neither Jerry Garcia nor perhaps as funny… England, mid-1990s. A nasty party politician and government minister, Neil Hamilton, had been accused by the Grauniad newspaper of accepting bribes (specifically, cash to ask questions in Parliament). He denied this and sued. Ultimately, the Grauniad won, and published a memorable front-page header: A Liar and a Cheat, in gigantic type. Sometime later, a book about the affair was published, which I purchased.

    At the time was I living in Bristol, which is a short train ride from Bath. It just so happened the nasty party was holding a conference in Bath. So, somewhat-speculatively, I went to Bath for dinner, taking the book (which I had just started reading) with me. I mischievously selected a nice restaurant I guessed some of the nasty party bigwigs might eat at.

    Yep. At least one minister and assorted other hangers-on. I had a good dinner and continued with my reading of the book. As it so happened I’d been seated at a table the minister and his zealots would have to pass when they left. So as they got up to leave, I very carefully placed the book on my table in the light, where they couldn’t overlook it and would be above to see / read the cover.

    The minister noticed. He shot me a laser death-ray eyes look albeit said nothing.

    A bit later the waiter came up to me with a big grin and said desert would be with the compliments of the house.

  2. Owlmirror says

    Since I was curious, I looked it up:


    At age four […] two-thirds of Garcia’s right middle finger was accidentally cut off.

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