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Two kicks

It was a bad day to be fat. A day like any other day, only hotter, maybe not literally 110° in the shade but on Telegraph there was no shade, and not even a breeze.

The fish didn't sell well. When my brain's being broiled I'm a grump, and my whole head was a waterfall of sweat, probably repulsive to the customers, and I felt the same about them.

There's a tablecloth for the display stand, but I kept it in my backpack today, because it's cloth. It was great for wiping gallons of sweat off my face and arms, and it must've been gallons, because despite drinking six jugs of water I didn't have to pee even once.

There were more street wackos than usual on Telegraph Ave. My table was in front of a pizzeria, and across the street behind me a bag lady shouted her order for most of the afternoon. "One slice of pepperoni and sausage," she'd yell, and then yell it again ten minutes later, like a joke she'd keep telling until someone laughed. Nobody laughed. Or maybe she thought they'd bring her a slice, just to shut her up. They didn't deliver.

A flock of spiked and leather-clad teenagers sat in front of the pizza joint, talking loud and sometimes obnoxious, panhandling passers-by, and when those kids were rowdiest, sales were bleakest.

Sorry I sound like a spokesman for the Chamber of Commerce, but (on days it's not quite so hot as today) I actually like selling stickers on Telegraph. I want to sell enough stickers to justify my job.

The vendors' tables are in the street, and we all sit facing the sidewalk, so the teenagers were ten feet in front of me, all damned day. My ignorance of the youth of today is profound — I don't even know what's the noun for what those kids are. Punks? Skinheads? Dunno. 'Dipshits' seems accurate. Spikey-haired panhandlers.

At one point, a couple of them argued and did a testosterone dance, yelling insults, each of them waiting for the other to throw the first punch. That stupid moment lasted about twenty minutes off and on, and the whole time nobody on the sidewalk stopped to look at the fish. It's not good for capitalism when a fight's about to break out, but it never did, and later those two kids drank from the same beer can.

Another time, a crackhead asked one of the teenagers if he had any spare change. Panhandlers panhandling the panhandlers — that's prophesized in Revelations, I think.

The spikey kid said, "Sorry, I'm broke," and the crackhead called him a liar, and I silently agreed with the crackhead. I don't know what the kids' outfits are supposed to signify, but it's an expensive uniform. Leather ain't cheap, and theirs looked new. How they bake their hair into those shapes, spikes mostly, must involve costly products in plastic bottles. Money isn't a major problem for those kids. They probably have allowances.

Then the crackhead looked at the boy's girlfriend, and said, "You've got this fine bitch here, why don't you put her to work?" and did I imagine it or did all of Telegraph Ave go quiet?

The boy was one of the almost-fighters from earlier, so I expected he'd punch the bum, but he only watched as his girlfriend, maybe 17, rose out of her slouch and into a rage. She got into the crackhead's face, almost literally, screaming at him from inches away and splashing him with spittle.

After insulting and threatening him, she pointed down the street and told him to start walking, but instead he made a stupid face and said, "Who's gonna make me?" and that's when she gave him the Jackie Chan treatment. One kick to the chest, and he was falling over when the second kick hit his stomach. He landed on the sidewalk with an audible thud. She pointed again, and he picked himself up and walked away quick and quiet, without another word.

And that was your CNN Play of the Day. Her boyfriend applauded, I applauded, and it was the only moment all afternoon when I didn't hate those kids.

From Pathetic Life #13
Saturday, June 24, 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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