We came across Nightmare Cafe when my girlfriend and I were walking down the streets of Balboa Park. The sign — standing on its four feet — bumped into us as we made our way past the Botanical Garden.
"Nightmare Cafe," it said. "Museum with a Cafe and Food Inside."
Yasmin and I glanced at each other before turning to look at the museum.
It was waiting across the street — brooding red and black. It stood rigid among the fancy, bright stores around it. The cafe seemed to have sucked the light and joy in its vicinity. Even the sun seemed afraid of touching its surface.
We shrugged at each other and approached the building. There was a similar sign by the tinted glass door. "Cafe and Food Inside," said the sign. There was a speaker hiding somewhere above us, playing 50's music. Doris Day had never sounded this foreboding. It was all treble. No bass.
"Let's just check out and see what it is?" asked Yasmin. We were on a little weekend gateway, in hopes of escaping our dull working lives, to, none other than, San Diego. Yasmin loved the city and its culture. It was her idea to come here actually.
"Please, come inside!" The sign insisted.
"Sure," I replied. We didn't have anything planned out. Besides, we were both quite invested in art. I was personally intrigued by the name and the strange building. It seemed to have been waiting for us. I almost expected the door to open on its own.