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May 3, 2011

The Tenderloin Speakeasy

Last night, I went to a benefit for the California Gay Sheep Farmers Co-operative (CAGS) at some speakeasy down in the tenderloin. The speakeasy is a discreet place with a non-descript front door and a peep-hole. You have to have a password to get in and the back room is literally hidden behind a book case, no joke.

The hard thing about growing old is that I don't remember as well as I used to and the big gaping holes in my memory are hard to paper over. I introduce myself to people and they say we've already met, and I'm like....'when?' and they're like....'eleven seconds ago'. and I'm like, 'huh...how about that?'

So we're out at this speakeasy last night and several of the girls there say they've met me before, which is hard to imagine, as I have zero recollection of them. But they seem to have a few stories that betray they have, in fact, run into me before.

At some point, I find this girl in my face, swearing that I told her "for a fat girl, you don't sweat much". I don't deny that I may have said those words, but she misunderstood the context. It's an old line. A standard left-handed compliment. One I've repeated countless times, but I would never have directed it at her. I would have offered it up more in the vein of "that's like saying 'for a fat girl, you don't sweat much.' "

Now, for clarification, the girl in question competes in triathalons. No joke. So, she's not fat. Far from it. She's skinny as a rail. And to somehow be offended by this line is just absurd, in my opinion. Like, if you're going to be offended by that line, then you don't need to be around me, because I'm just getting started. Those are slow-pitch softballs. Entry level stuff.

But somehow, she apparently misinterpreted my line as a sincere pickup attempt and got offended by it for whatever reason. We'd both been drinking, of course.

So, I turned to Jeff for help.

"Jeff, dude....tell her it's a line from a movie. She's acting like she's never heard it before."

"What movie? I dunno, man. You're on your own on this one. I can't help you."

See, when you're on the road, you end up in the company of strangers. It sort of comes with the territory. So, I'm surrounded by people who don't get my sense of humor. Who don't know the same lines. Haven't watched the same movies.

Furthermore, the problem with confronting someone that's thin-skinned is that there's no answer to the charge of being insensitive, at least none that I'm aware of. It's just this meathook that dull brutes swing without mercy at every conceivable opportunity.

All you can do is apologize profusely for living and tactically retreat from their field of vision.

In a perfect world, I'd shove a grenade in her mouth, pull the pin, and run out into the streets of the tenderloin. But, as luck would have it, this animal is someone's friend. Someone in our clique thought it wise to invite this replicant to our little soiree. So, I can't put a grenade in her mouth.

I tell her several times that she didn't understand it was just a line. To drop the issue and move on. But this is not the way of the beast. The beast can't move on. It has never lived but to fight this one battle. This one crusade, and she's bent on marching down O'Farrell Street with my head on a pike.

Finally, I bolt. I just gab my gear and go outside to get on my bike to flee like a battered woman in the night. But I get to my bike and I don't have my helmet. I left my helmet in there by the monster. Somehow, the dragon is wedged between me and my hat.

In the shadow of my motorcycle, I collapse onto the concrete sidewalk with all of my luggage. (I've still not made it to my crash pad on Russian hill. I went straight from the airport, to work, to this party. Now, I'm cursing all of the Gods of all the world's religions, each in turn.

I call Carol and her boyfriend answers the phone.

"Dude, can you bring me my hat?"

"Why?" he asks.

"Because I asked you to," I reply. Like, I have no idea what to say to a woman. Never have and never will. But godd@mit I'm asking you as a friend to bring me my hat so I don't have to confront the dragon in its lair.

In the tenderloin, you just can't know. Cannot know what this circus is like. Negroes wandering around aimlessly, cursing the sidewalk. Pissing and defecating in the streets. Bottles breaking. Drug addicts. Prostitutes. A drooling, hobbled black woman approaches me. She's pointing her cane at me, waving it menacingly. She's saying something, but the words aren't coming out. Or maybe she's speaking only I can't get it. I try to listen. To know her complaint against this dislocated man sitting on the sidewalk by the motorcycle.

But, before I can discern her concern...before it settles clearly on me, the dragon is upon me. Hovering directly above me now. Wings articulating menacingly in the stratosphere. Flaming red hair. A dragonfly tatto on its bared belly, howling madly in the darkness.

Fire scorches the bare feet of the broken slave. The homeless woman collapses her cane and disappears, squealing like a pig into the night.

I watch her scurry away into the graffiti-splattered darkness. How I envy her, the freed slave as she disappears into the tenderloin, escaping the ire of this smoldering, barren woman.

A piercing screech emanates from the innermost chambers of her carapace. Rising up from the depths of her scarred, hollow uterus. Waves of left-coast, femi-nazi, man-hate cascade through the streets. Before her, sheets of quaking homeless negroes part, as Moses parted the Red Sea.

Sullenly I realize, it holds my helmet in it's bloody claws. I can't leave without my helmet. Driving drunk without a license plate is dumb enough. Doing it without a helmet is suicidal.

She stands above me, fanning the flames of hades with dragon wings, dangling my helmet above me in her talons, deliberately just beyond my reach.

I see now something that I'd not noticed previously. She has a scar across her face. Odd that I'd not seen it before. Only now that the makeup is running down her face in rivers of sweat, base, and mascara do I see the 9" scar across her face where someone once reached down, found their balls, and chopped her face in half with a machete.

How I envy that man. The one that found the testosterone to part her face with a steel blade. If only I knew his name, I'd crawl across every cactus in the Punta Prieta desert in August to thank him.

Now she's fanning the flames again, going on and on about how stupid I was to say that she "didn't sweat much for a fat girl".

Will nothing deliver me from this special corner of hell that I've somehow crawfished into?

At some point, she tosses the helmet into the asphalt streets and it goes rolling down, away from Knob Hill, deeper into the tenderloin where the crazed addicts and whores stare at it curiously. It comes to a rest on a homeless person, who sits, dazed and confused, inspecting the scorched helmet.

"Sorry," I say and I retrieve my helmet and fire up the motorcycle and disappear in the San Francisco night.

God as my witness, she'll never find herself in the same room as me again.

I believe that I'm giving up on my life as a social creature. I think that I'll stick to my photography/motorcycling and leave the psychotic femi-nazis alone.

Today, I googled the line to see if I could find where it came from. I'm still not sure of the origin, but I didn't make it up, obviously. Since she's never had any lines first hand, I thought I'd share a few of the lines I found on the web, to wit:

"I'd love to see what you look like when I'm naked."

"You're ugly, but you intrigue me."

"Can I buy you a drink, or do you just want the money?"

"You don't sweat much for a fat girl."

"Does this rag smell like chloroform to you?"

"Do you know karate? 'Cause your body is kickin'!"

"So....are you in the fifth or sixth grade?"

"Do you have a quarter? My mother told me to call her when I meet the woman of my dreams"

"Someone call a priest...an angel has fallen from heaven"

"Do you like cabbage?"

"was your dad a baker, because you have a nice set of buns"

"i have a 12 inch tounge and i can breath through my ears"

"now, i dont look like much now, but im drinking milk"

"Excuse me - do you like puppies?"
"You know, puppies - all cute and furry and soft?.."
[Yeah, I guess so]
"Great, let's go dance"

You're a long, tall, drink of water, I'd like to climb you.

Are your feet tired, cuz you've been running through my head all night .............

Posted by Rob Kiser on May 3, 2011 at 10:34 AM


No, you didn't!

Posted by: CC on May 3, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Did u write all this at work. Must be a cool client. Just kidding !! TAlk to u soon

Posted by: B15 on May 3, 2011 at 6:59 PM

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