Grand Central Station

As I'm handing out flyers in front of the shop, there's one particular woman who walks by most days. She's pretty, she smiles, sometimes she says hi and I reply, but what stands out is her black lipstick. I mean no racial insensitivity, but black lipstick on a white woman is beyond my spectroscopic ken.

Of course, it's not for me; it's for her. I understand that... but it still freaks me out.

Guess it's yet another indication, like punk rock, white rappers, or the everpresent skinny boys in baggy britches, that the world has moved on and left me behind. Today's trends bewilder me. I have become my father.

♦ ♦ ♦

After a few hours in front of the shop, Stevi sent me on a road trip to hand out flyers at 17th & Castro, an intersection I haven't worked before. At least, I haven't worked that corner for the shop, but I've pasted up my own "anything legal" posters there — and someone rips them down quite quickly.

So I was standing there in drag — Stevi got me a new skirt — happily handing out the shop's flyers, next to a telephone pole where a colorful hand-painted poster announced a garage sale later this afternoon. 

A middle-aged man in a leather jacket walked by, and without even stopping to look at the poster he reached out and ripped it down as he passed. It was a clean, practiced motion, like he does this all the time, and I realized, he's the person I've never seen but I've come to hate. He's the man who makes it his mission to rip posters off telephone poles, which screws with anyone trying to get the word out about anything, including me and my "anything legal" posters.

Hey, mister! Hey, asshole! Hey, Mr Asshole! Are you the same idiot who pulls down all my "anything legal" posters in this neighborhood, soon as I've put 'em up? Why, man? What's the sanctity of a telephone pole to you? Who left you in charge of free speech in the Castro?

None of this I said, of course, because wearing the skirt and blouse and wig, handing out the shop's flyers, I'm representing the shop. Can't be getting into an altercation while I'm working.

And unfortunately, the guy's face was nondescript, mass-produced. He looked like 50,000 other white men in the city. I'll never know him, if I see him again, unless I see him ripping down more posters.

Pissed me off, though. If ever I'm wearing my own clothes instead of the shop's and I see someone pull down a poster, anyone's poster for anything, it'll be a loud day in San Francisco.

♦ ♦ ♦

Pike still hasn't found a job, and there haven't been many "anything legal" calls, either. Today he told me that he'll be late again with next month's rent — next month being tomorrow.

He offered an innovative solution, and we agreed to it, but it's nuts.

He wants to rent out his room — the living room of our one-bedroom apartment, where he and his girlfriend Terry live — as short-term housing for the friend of a friend of his, who's arriving in San Francisco in a few days. All three of them would be sharing that one room, the room I walk through to get to the kitchen, the john, or the front door.

I moved in less than two months ago, with one flatmate — Pike.

Almost immediately, Terry moved in, unannounced and without asking, so I have two flatmates.

And now another stranger is coming, and I'll have three flatmates — in a one-bedroom apartment.

My Mom had a saying, a cliché she'd say whenever me and my siblings and our friends crowded the living room with too many kids after school — "What is this, Grand Central Station?" Mom's voice said that on a loop, while I mulled Pike's bright idea.

"Four people will be living here," I said, "and I'll be paying half the rent?"

From that came a new agreement, splitting the rent more equitably, and that's nice. I've agreed to pay extra tomorrow, but long-term my rent just went down.

I can handle some extra noise in their room, and probably extra drinking and drugging, food missing from the fridge, longer lines to get into the bathroom, and everything else. I've lived in shared, overcrowded apartments before, when I was younger and maybe more patient. I'm not 19 any more, but all this is a rerun for me. 

What I'm not sure about is the key to my bedroom. There's a lock, but the lease is in Pike's name, so he's effectively my landlord, and he has a copy of that key. It hasn't worried me, because I trust Pike to stay out of my stash of cash and other things in here.

I trust his girlfriend less, though — I already suspect she's brushing with my toothpaste and eating my peanut butter.

With another stranger in our household, Pike could leave his keys on the dresser to take a shower, and Terry or our mystery guest could unlock my door and prowl my premises.

That's more risk than I'm willing to take, so I'm off to the hardware store, to add a padlock to my door.

From Pathetic Life #11
Sunday, April 30, 1995

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.

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