Sunday, January 22, 2012

red nova

These two people are unlikely to succeed at much.  As a couple, they don't match, so a successful partnership is out.  They each have trouble holding down a job, so in that way they are alike, but it's not like being good at math.  It's like being good at shoplifting.  Amber alternated between cocktail waitress and pole dancer, but lately she has been excelling in the field of sleeping in until two in the afternoon and fighting with her downstairs neighbor, who insists she doesn't walk across the floor, she stomps.  

Today, her costume is a dressing gown with a belt from a terry cloth robe she no longer owns, and, if the laundry has been done by Chet, she wears underpants.  Her lack of underpants is another complaint her downstairs neighbor has made. 

"Getting an eyeful of that mangled Brillo is not something I wanna see!" her neighbor, Reuben yelled up at her retreating bare legs through the steps of the cement and wrought iron steps.  "Jesus, lady.  I like women, but that --" He was cut off by Amber's slamming door, which was just as well.

In the apartment, Amber kicked aside a stained throw pillow and a nearly empty bag of corn chips.  She looked at the pile of salt and greasy chip crumbs she'd unleashed onto classic apartment beige carpet with a mix of apathy and pride.  It had nothing to do with her.  She dialed Chet's cell phone.  

"Where you at?" She demanded after he answered.  

"Well, hello to you too, baby.  I'm swell, thanks."  

"Come on, where."  

"I'm still here."  

Here was the local Quik Stop Chet had lied his way into for job.  He got less than 30 hours a week, but it cut the daily run to the very same convenience store he used to make on Amber's behalf anyway.  Tampons, donuts, lottery tickets and beer, naturally.  She needed only to call in her order when it was close to quitting time for Chet.  He always brought what she asked. During his shift he drank either Cokes or Icees, always mixing, a.k.a. "suicides."  Bursting blueberry + wild cherry + pinnacle pineapple. The sugar high he derived from the Icee lasted him through his 5-hour shifts and he passed the time between customers reading magazines, counting soda cans, and sweeping up.  

Tonight he was a half hour into the next shift because the new guy was, so far, a no-show.  

"I don't know how late I'll be and no I don't got the guy's number to tell him to get his ass down here. This ain't the Gentlemen's Lounge, you know. There ain't' no goddamn phone list."

"What am I supposed to do for smokes then?  I ain't dressed!"  Amber snatched at the lapels of her dressing gown, annoyed to find herself exposed in her own living room.  

"SIt tight, will ya?  I'll do my best here.  Maybe I can close up for 15 minutes and bring you your stuff.  What do you want anyway?"  

This conversation went on for a few minutes more, ending with Chet slamming down the phone, muttering "bitch" as he opened a plastic sack to fill with Slim Jim's and menthol cigarettes.

What either of them saw in the other is anybody's guess.  They were no good to or for each other, but it was unlikely they could ever get another person to tolerate them.  Whether they will last throughout time or circle each other until they explode to form a red nova, leaving only one fragment of each of them, no one knows.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Walk On By

Open Letter to Pigeons of San Francisco:

Just when I thought I could get used to the sight of your mangled toes and peg legs, I've started noticing more and more of you limping.  A bobbing, greyish bird surveying the sidewalks for questionably culinary treasures is a typical urban visage, but a bird with an off-kilter gait?  I cannot bear it.  A limping animal taxes my empathy beyond its limits.  Because scooping you up and taking you to physical therapy is not an option, I shall cast my gaze elsewhere. 

I wish you good fortune in your travels, little bird.


A Friend

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


This photo that I took today might need a little 'splainin'.  It's what's left of the ice skating rink at the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco.  I had seen it one day, about a month ago, with blasting Top Ten country music, the rink full of skaters -- giggling teenage girls, confident soloists, brave children, and that guy.  You know him, he's that guy at every ice rink and roller rink:  weird outfit, thin, about 37 years old, pony tail, and a fancy skating technique.  The guy that day was decked out in camouflage and inexplicable San Francisco 49er accessories. Oh, his arm flourishes were impressive, don't get me wrong, but I get the impression That Guy, though creepy as all get-out, is a little sad inside and is just trying to skate the pain away.

Back to today, I realized I never thought about what an ice skating rink must look like when it's being dismantled/melted.  There's a lovely metaphor in their somewhere, but the Hawaiian Airlines branding is making it hard to see.