Intruder alert

Knotted up inside, I woke up at 3:00 or so this ayem and had to take a dump. Now, usually when you gotta go you gotta go, and I had to go, but this time it wouldn't go. I sat and grunted for half an hour, pushing so much and so hard that I got sweaty, and then finally, nothing happened. But the urgentness subsided so I went back to bed, too exhausted to sleep, and read a boring zine for an hour until slowly fading away.

Twice more I woke up and took a seat in the john, but twice more the mission was unaccomplished. I needed to poop but I'd tried and couldn't, so finally I rolled the cart to work on the Ave.

Once open for business, I went for a cup of coffee, as much for its laxative effects as for the caffeine, but nothing brought things to the dropping point.

This is not the way my bowels usually work. Sometimes there's an hour's notice, and sometimes it's more immediate, but getting urgent signals, getting no results, and then getting no more signals — that's highly irregular, so to speak. All morning and afternoon nothing would budge, nor did I even have an urge to try. I simply didn't have to go to the bathroom, except a few times to pee. What is this dark curse on my bowels?

♦ ♦ ♦ 

A man and woman walked toward my fish stand, and they were young, white, well-dressed. I heard only the last few words the woman said as she approached: "...the man who sells the fish."

"I am the man who sells the fish," I said, with a salesman's smile.

"You're Doug the fish guy?" she asked, and I froze. I'm Doug in the zine, but I don't wear a name tag, and on the Avenue I'm someone else, OK?

We all have our walls, and mine are tall, with few doors. The only people who'd know me as Doug are a few other vendors on the Ave, and a few people who know the real me.

"No," I said quickly, "Doug took the day off." I am not on the Avenue to interact with zine readers. I don't like meeting strangers unexpectedly, especially unexpected strangers who've read the most intimate details of my life. "Is there anything I can help you with?" I asked, blankly, or trying to be blank.

"Oh," she said, "damn," with a disappointed look on her face. "He writes a funny zine," she explained, to her companion and to me. 

"What's a zine?" I asked, still trying to be blank, to say what someone blank would say.

She looked at me, but didn't answer. Probably she didn't believe my lie that I wasn't me. I do bear a striking resemblance to the character of 'Doug', as described in the zine.

She kept looking at me, and at the table, at things I've described on the table, like the Permit to Place Object on Sidewalk, which must be and was conspicuously posted, and the magnet display that's actually a fireplace screen, and my boss's poetry zine What Lesbians Do, and of course, all the blasphemous fish.

She knew this was the fish stand, and knew I'm the guy from the zine. Finally she smiled and said, "Naaah, you're the guy from the zine," like enough of this kidding around.

I was not kidding around. "Dunno what the fuck you're on about, lady. Would you like to buy a fish?" Still she stared at me. "Because if you don't want to buy a fish, it's time you leave."

At that her smile disappeared, and she looked like I'd insulted her. I hadn't, but that was next on the agenda if she didn't leave.

Too slowly, she and her companion walked away, and she turned back to look at me as she left. The look on her face said she didn't understand, so I am going to explain it to you now, lady:

I write about my life. I sell the writings for $3 a month, but I do not sell tickets to the life itself. You are not invited to intrude wherever you see me.

Today was the fourth time someone's approached me like that, someone who thinks I'm Agatha Christie dropping clues, and takes my writing as an invitation to find me. 

I never should've written that I sell fish on Telegraph Avenue. I should've obscured things, maybe written that I sell buttons or bows or something, anything but fish. It's made me too easy to find. 

Pretty sure she wasn't Marcia David Chapman. She only wanted to say, "Gosh, I like your zine," like people sometimes say in postcards. I like the postcards. I want people to like the zine, but no saying hello.

Jesus H Fucking Christchild. I have written and published this before, but maybe not plainly enough, so again: If you want to meet me, drop me a damned card in the mail, or leave a message on my voice mail. Maybe I'll be willing. I've done it before. Your odds are better if you offer to buy me lunch.

Your odds are much, much worse if you simply ambush me, and that's what today was, an ambush. I am massively introverted, I don't like meeting people unexpectedly, don't want to talk about my zine while I'm on Telegraph, and I can't talk about the zine on Telegraph — it would blow my cover.

Do not to approach me on Telegraph, capeesh? I've written that before, and yet numbskulls and knuckleheads approach me on Telegraph. If this continues happening, the next time someone says "Are you Doug from Pathetic Life?" my response might not be so polite.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

On a much happier note, Brenda was back on the Ave today, close enough that we talked, but not close enough that she overheard the stalking incident. We chatted pleasantly, and it is rare indeed for me to feel as relaxed around someone as quickly as I have with Brenda. 

Two young men came between our conversation, wearing colorful sarongs and too much lipstick, handing out invitations to something called "Journey into the Caverns of Pan," which says it's "a rare San Francisco performance by Frank Moore." They rambled on about what to expect at a Frank Moore show — strange incantations, maybe nudity, and servings of a drug they said "looks and tastes exactly like water." It's the sort of dippy dementia that makes San Francisco San Francisco.

Of course I'd never attend, but sometimes I surprise me and do things I'd never do. I've heard of Moore, and seen flyers for his other "rare" San Francisco performances. Some years back, I read a copy of his zine, The Cherotic (r)Evolutionary, but frankly, Frank, it bored me.

Then again, I'm not the man I was a few years ago, or ever last week. Perhaps Mr Moore is better appreciated in person. So when Brenda said that "Journey into the Caverns of Pan" sounded absurdly interesting, I said I'd go if she was going, and now it's a date.

I've definitely got to wash my clothes before this big whatever-it-is or she'll smell me, but tickets are just five bucks, and if it gets boring or awkward or scary, we can always split.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

After work, Josh and I went to dinner at Hong Kong Villa, on University Way. We had vegetarian pot stickers, which were sumptuous and scrumptious, plus a shared plate of prawns and garden vegetables (quick, name a vegetable that isn't a "garden vegetable"). The rice was kinda clumpy, but on request they brought free refills until we were stuffed with clumpy rice.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Then we went to the Grand Lake for Twelve Monkeys, and pretty soon Bruce Willis was wearing a plastic suit exploring ancient ruins and it looked interesting, so of course, that's when I felt the stirring return from this morning. Soon it became a stabbing, and I climbed over other people down the row and jogged into the lobby, and looked around. I don't come to the Grand Lake very often, and had to ask a pretty usher where's the men's room?

"Upstairs, to the left," she said, but she lied. Upstairs to the left is the ladies' room. I was bursting at the seams, ready to unbuckle my britches and leave a Paul Bunyan log on the carpet. Then I saw the sign lit up far down the hall, "men's room." It was upstairs, and to the right.

I darted into the only open stall and before I'd finished sitting down a pungent rope the length of Indiana Jones' whip began to emerge. It may have been the most evidence I've ever left behind, but it took mere moments. Oh, I felt so much better. Wiped, flushed, and I'd only missed a few minutes of the movie.

Sometimes nature calls twice, so I took a seat by myself in the back of the auditorium, so as not to be stepping on people's toes the whole evening. After twenty minutes or so and a second trip upstairs and to the right, I returned to my original seat beside Josh.

He whispered the plot points he thought I'd missed, but I hadn't missed much. Indy's whip had cracked twice, but fast. Despite a low-key need to return upstairs afterwards, the film was fine all the way.

Oh yeah, the film? Willis plays a forced-volunteer time traveler from our disease-wracked future, sent back to the 1990s to trace and prevent the beginnings of an epidemic that's killed 99% of humanity and left Brad Pitt kinda crazy.

It's good science fiction, with a high-IQ script, a goosebumpy sense of wonder, and it briefly touches on animal rights and psychiatric abuse. It made me think more than I'm used to thinking, especially trying to understand the ending, but with help from Josh I got it. There's a point to it, and I recommend it, but go to the bathroom first.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Before signing off for the night, let me reiterate once more what I've already iterated. Thank you for buying this zine, but I do not want to meet anyone by surprise.

You are not the exception to this rule.

There are no exceptions to this rule.

You're why I carry mace.

Do not approach me on Telegraph, or anywhere, OK?

From Pathetic Life #20
Sunday, January 14, 1996

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.


  1. Ahhh, sadly, this entry is a portent of how the zine ends.

    1. The zine ends?

    2. All things end, if only to make way for different things.


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