One last argument

I was handing out flyers on the sidewalk in front of Unusualia, the shop I work for — so also in front of the evil Geraldine's shop, one floor below in the same building.

A burly balding man was installing a new sign for Geraldine's shop, and as he was finishing, Geraldine came out with her camera, looked at the building, and got ready to take a picture. Out of common courtesy (does anyone know what that is?) I stepped out of the way, thinking I'd stand a few yards down the sidewalk while she's snapping the photo, documenting her new sign for whatever reason.

She clicked her camera, but the flash seemed to be in my direction, so I tried watching out of the corner of my eye as, again, she peered through the lens at her new sign, to take a second picture, maybe from a different angle. Just before pushing the button, she turned the camera toward me, snapped my profile, then aimed the camera toward the shop again, as if that was what she'd just photographed. Then she jogged toward the door of her shop, and disappeared inside.

Wish I wasn't such a slow thinker. If I was a quick thinker I would've yelled at her, and maybe offered to autograph my picture. At least the lawyer schmuck upstairs pointed his camera at me and clicked, a few days ago. He didn't pretend to any other purpose.

What Geraldine and the lawyer are up to, I'm unsure. Presumably they're going to complain to the landlord, but me and the landlord have met. He's seen me in my get-up. He wouldn't need a snapshot. 

Maybe Geraldine imagines she'll sue LeeAnn and Stevi, because they have me dressed ridiculous and handing out flyers. Is it illegal to hand out flyers? No, this is America. Is it illegal to dress ridiculous? No, this is San Francisco. 

Sometimes it feels like humanity is not my species. I don't understand people. What's the subterfuge about? Why does Geraldine hate LeeAnn and Stevi — and me, for that matter? How can anyone can get so worked up over nothing — a guy in a dress?

Inside the shop, I asked Stevi if I could bring my Polaroid and take pictures of Geraldine and maybe the lawyer, and she laughed and said she didn't care. It was mostly a joke, though. It's not worth the price of the film to snap their profiles, and I don't want to see Geraldine in person, let alone have a picture for posterity.

♦ ♦ ♦

After work, I gave myself a treat I haven't had since quitting Macy's — two burritos at El Castillito. Man, they make 'em so good, and they've never disappointed me, and there's no tips, and no charge for chips.

Sitting at one of the restaurant's cheap, wobbling tables, I watched the people and read The Sentinel, which is the best of the city's several gay weeklies. It's the best because they have Robert De Andreis, one of their columnists and one of the most reliably readable writers in this time and place.

His beat is his life, and Robert has AIDS, so every week he writes about the latest turn in his health, or remembers lovers and friends gone. It's a rare week when his words don't move me, yet he always infuses the ongoing tragedy with a sense of humor, so it isn't as depressing as you might expect.

A few weeks ago, he missed the deadline to turn in his column — first time that's happened. I worried and wondered, and The Sentinel simply said "Robert De Andreis is on assignment." The next week he cracked, "When I die, they'll probably say I'm on hiatus."

I'm writing about my life in this zine, but it's just for fun. Zero gravitas. No meaning to any of it. I'm a schmo and I know it, and so what.

What Robert is doing is the opposite: He's writing about his life, and knows it's almost over. All gravitas. All meaning. And still, somehow, he makes me smile and sometimes laugh.

This week, he's written about a purple lesion that's developed on his finger, and you're thinking ick or so what?, but I am telling you: It's very much worth reading about the lesion on Robert's finger. It's life and it's literature, he makes it worth reading and you have to give a damn. When the end comes, I hope all his columns are collected into a book.

You know what else? Maybe he'd like a word of appreciation. Yeah. I'm going to write to Robert, and say most of what I just typed.

♦ ♦ ♦

At the apartment after dinner, Terry was there — but as a guest, not as a resident. She says she's found an apartment, shared with some friends, and if I hadn't just blown my week's wad on burritos I would've bought pizza and beer for all of us. I am so happy she's moving out, it was worth having her back tonight, just for the joy of hearing that she's leaving.

For old times' sake, she and Pike had a loud argument, and Pike bellowed that he's sick of explaining everything to her like she's a 2-year-old. I could hear it through the walls, so I took notes when he said, "I hope I never again hear you say you thought I meant San Jose, you thought we were going to the club, all the things you thought and always thought wrong. You can't think at all, so why don't you concentrate real hard and try to fuckin' listen when people talk?"

That's scorching, yeah, and you'll want to feel sorry for her — but take it from me, she's earned it. Terry misunderstands the listening half of every damned conversation. Tell her something's on channel 32 at 7:00, and she'll turn on channel 34 at 6:30 and watch for an hour, even though there is no channel 34 so it's nothing but static. 

And anyway, they were all kissy-face five minutes after the yelling.

From Pathetic Life #12
Thursday, May 11, 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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