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A brief moment of What the hell?

Even the blandest of ordinary media likes running articles about zines, and a couple months back (6/21) Interview interviewed me. I figured nothing would come of it, because I was sorta curt with their reporter on the phone, and 'cause I told him no, I wouldn't send him a damned photograph or pose for one, and 'cause the interview lasted about as long as it takes to make toast — it was not exactly in-depth.

Three times weekly I check my voice mail, though, and this morning it told me, "You have… five… new messages," and they were all from Interview's reporter, Tony Moxham. In the first two, he asked me to call him back, and in the next three he said I could reverse the charges.

I hate phones but love calling collect, and Interview has decided that Pathetic Life should be "prominently featured" in their October issue, and they need my permission to run some excerpts.

"Permission granted," said I, "provided that you include my address, the zine's price, and that it's gotta be cash." Yeah, I want that small flood of $3 orders from people I'll never hear from again. And I'll bet even if it says "cash only," most of them will send checks payable to Pathetic Life, which are worthless to me, of course.

♦ ♦ ♦

After the phone call, I rolled the fish cart to Telegraph Ave, and it was a normalish day with a brief moment of What the hell? I was picking my nose between customers, when a young white man approached and said, "Are you Doug?"

"Yes," I foolishly confessed. At work I'm supposed to be friendly, and I was at work. That's what tripped me up.

"I'm Scott," he said, "from Sacramento. Pleased to meet you." He stuck out his hand for a shake, but I hesitated.

"What is this pertaining to?" It couldn't be alimony, couldn't be child support, but there are some unpleasant things it could've been, so I immediately regretted saying "yes" when he'd asked my name.

"I love your zine," he said, and he said more, but I didn't catch most of it and I was instantly uncomfortable.

On Telegraph, I play the role of someone who loves to talk about fish, but it's a performance, and I'm only prepared to talk about fish. In reality, I'm uncomfortable in almost any conversation, especially idle chit-chat with a stranger, or listening to someone tell me he likes the zine. I don't compliment well.

You'll get better dialogue from me if you tell me you hate the zine, but my preference is not talking at all, and I'd triple-rather not talk about the zine on Telegraph Ave, surrounded by other vendors who don't know the zine exists and don't know I write about them in it.

Before I found the words to say any of the above to Scott from Sacramento, he said, "Well, I just wanted to say hi. Bye!"

I said "Bye," said it smiling, and he walked away, waving back at me. Thank you, Scott from Sacramento, for at least keeping it brief, but that was awkward and I didn't enjoy it.

In the zine, I've described myself and what I'm selling on Telegraph. Everyone knows where Telegraph Avenue is, so it doesn't take a detective to find me, but please don't.

Anyone who's reading this, and likes the zine and imagines you'd like the author? You're mistaken. I am boring and grumpy and have nothing to say.

If, however, you foolishly want to say hi to me in the flesh, my number and address are at the back of the zine. Who knows, maybe we'll have a good time sharing coffee and donuts, especially if you're buying.

All I ask is, please call or write first. That's important. I need advance notice, so I have time to plan and dread our time together. No surprises, please.

From Pathetic Life #15
Friday, August 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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