Song on the radio

That song came on the radio, and with just the first few notes it swept me away with memories of someone. Hello, Robin. 

We worked in the same office a few years back, at my first job after I'd moved to San Francisco. We sat side-by-side, and as always I never had much to say, but Robin was a talker. 

I abhor talkers, but it’s more bearable when the person doing all the talking is a pretty woman, telling me things I’d hesitate before telling anyone. Her stories had few boundaries, and within a week I knew all about Robin, and her life, and her love life.

She was young, and had the appearance and mannerisms of being an innocent — think Mary Ann Singleton, from Tales of the City — until she talked about her evenings and weekends, and wow, she had busy evenings and weekends. She was dating three different men regularly, and other men occasionally, but no, she explained, not sleeping with any of them. (Memo to out-of-towners: San Francisco of the 1990s is still fun and a little wild, but not that wild.)

Robin knew all the city and suburban night spots, bars, and bands, and she had a special thing for drummers — two of her three boyfriends played drums in local bands. She often briefed me on which bands and which clubs — and which men — had their strong points and annoyances, what she found appealing about them, and what she didn’t. I learned which places to avoid in San Francisco, which was every place she recommended, cuz I’m a movies and maybe museums guy, never found in places with strobe lights or bouncers. Just listening to her, I also learned some things about what kind of man I’d never want to be.

Robin was not Marilyn Monroe, but she was certainly attractive, and there was something intangible about her — a sweet smile, a generous laugh, and she never kept it a secret that she was smart. And we both liked that song, when it came on the radio eleven times an day.

I always looked forward to my next shift at work, because her life was more interesting than mine. Maybe I wished I was a drummer, and thinner and younger and not at all me, but I'm fat and insecure, probably ten years older than her, maybe more, and I only had drumsticks when I was eating Kentucky Fried. From me, Robin never heard any of the compliments she deserved.

After she left town, not with any of the men she’d mentioned, but alone, to volunteer at a wildlife preserve, Robin wrote me a couple of letters — genuine letters, short but handwritten. I never got around to answering them, and yeah, I’m an idiot.

Wherever she is now, I'm sure she's still making men smile and breaking our hearts, maybe accidentally, but unforgettably.

None of the above is meant in a disgusting way, either. Today, just this once, I'm wholesome. I didn’t date Robin, and didn't want to. Didn’t know her that well, she wasn't at all my type, and I don't even remember her last name … but I remember her, at least while that song is playing.

From Pathetic Life #6
Monday, November 21, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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  1. > Just remembering her says something about Robin, I think — or perhaps about how pathetic I still am.

    I would be flattered if anyone remembered me this way after so long.

    1. Yeah? When I open up, a positive response still surprises me. I'm always expecting to be told I'm disgusting, so thanks.


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