There's this lady on Telegraph sometimes — an older woman, white. She sets up a table and sells her paintings, but not often. I've looked at her paintings and they're definitely art, in a good way, but I'm anti-social so I never bothered to say hello.

Today she was working two booths down from me, so some minimal niceties were required. "Hello," I finally said, and yakity yak yak, and then I went back to selling fish.

When I looked up from my work and daydreams a few hours later, she was reading an oversized paperback — Answer Me, by Jim & Debbie Goad. Hmmm. They publish an over-the edge nutso zine, and the book is a compilation of the zine's first three issues. It's too nutso for me, but at least it's not normal.

She was reading it, so that probably means the lady is not normal either, and I like not normal. She was chuckling as she turned a page in the book, so I strolled over, said hello again, and this time tried to actually be sociable.

Her name is Brenda, and she's funny and friendly, and she likes zines. We talked about the various zines she reads, all bizarre, and I forgot to mention that I write a zine myself. 

She volunteered that she's 58 years old, though I would've guessed mid-40s. She sells her art only on Sundays, she said, so now I know someone worth talking to one day a week on the Ave.

I thought about maybe mentioning that I write a zine, or even bringing her a copy next Sunday, but that would be a bad idea. People not knowing is how the whole zine works. If word got out to Jasper or a few other vendors that I'm writing about 'em, they'd kill me, or sue me, or run me out of Berkeley.

From Pathetic Life #20
Sunday, January 7, 1996

Addendum, 2023: Reading what I wrote about Brenda brightened my morning, all these years later. She did become a friend, and we were buddies until she died, but at the moment I don't even remember her last name. 

She told me some great stories, though, and I hope I told some of those stories in some upcoming Pathetic Life entries, 'cuz if I didn't they're probably forgotten forever.

It was great hearing from you today, Brenda.

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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