THURSDAY — I've never been much of a drinker, but a reader sent me a bottle of rum, and it's sitting atop my dresser and looking better ever night. I'm tempted. I've always liked to rum from my troubles.

Sorry about the pun.

Anyway, I have plenty of troubles, and it's not enough rum to hide behind.

♦ ♦ ♦  

FRIDAY — Yesterday I sat on my rumpled butt and worked on the zine, drank a little rum, ate too much, took a long nap, and never once did I think to check my voice mail. So I didn't know Andrea had called, asking me to babysit tonight, Friday night.

She also said, "Happy Sweetheart's Day," but it probably meant no more than "have a nice afternoon."

It was 11:15 this morning when I checked my voice mail, more than 24 hours after she'd called. Dingleberry pie, damn it.

I called right back, left a message on her answering machine, and she returned my call at around 4:00, saying thanks but she'd already dropped the kid at a friend's house for the night. 

Dammit, I need to be checking my messages twice daily, especially with more "I'll do anything" flyers in circulation lately. Andrea's call could've been a big gig that sailed right past, instead of just another night of half-priced Shannon-sitting.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Here's another voice mail, one that pissed me off:

"Your sticker says you've never been arrested, so this is a warning. If I find any more of your stickers on Chronicle newsboxes, you will be arrested."

That's all the voice said, with dramatic emphasis on will be. As if he'd call the cops, and as if the cops would care enough to track down the false name on my voice mail account. As if at my next once-weekly stop at my mail drop, the police would be there, staking the place out to arrest me for stickering on Chronicle newsboxes. Seems unlikely.

He didn't leave his name or number, of course. That would require courage. Guess his complaint's not unreasonable, though. So many bands and political causes slap stickers on the newsboxes, and now my five-dollar stickers too. Gotta be frustrating, if he's anal about having pristine newsboxes. My stickers are the only ones with a phone number, so I get a silly threat.

Outside of laundromats, there aren't many public bulletin boards where you can post signs, and I sure can't afford paid advertising. But OK, I'll be a good boy and go back to putting my stickers and flyers on telephone poles and stop signs.

Maybe some day when I'm not so poor, I'll have stickers printed up just for whoever left that message on my voice mail:


And I'll stick 'em right over the coin slots.

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There were almost no vendors on my designated block of Telegraph, and I should've rolled my pushcart up to Bancroft Street and sold fish among the capitalists. 

My tummy felt weird, though, and I was in no mood to be lectured or ticketed by the city inspector, so I sold where the permit says I'm supposed to sell. There were only two other vendors on the block, neither of whom I particularly like.

As I was setting up the stand, a young and pretty woman leaned on a shop's window and watched, and she seemed to be considering each fish as they went onto the display. Great, I figured, before there's even a chance to sit down, some Christian is going to start in on me for selling heresy and blasphemy.

But instead she waited until I was done, and promptly bought a hemp magnet and a Hippie Jesus magnet, She said she'd put them side-by-side on her refrigerator, "because Jesus was a man at peace with his soul, a man who lived on the earth, walked on the earth. He wore robes made of hemp, and I'm certain he smoked the herb. It's the surest way to walk holy."

That's very nearly word-for-word. I wrote it down as soon as she'd left, but in the instant I simply thought she was nuts and took her money.

"You make these fish?" she asked.

"Nah, I'm not creative," I answered. "I only cut 'em out of pre-printed mylar sheets, and sell 'em."

"You're creative," she said. "I can see it in your eyes. What do you do? Do you paint? Do you sculpt? What do you do with your hands?" She spoke with a soft Italian accent. "Your hands," she said again. "What do you do with your hands."

My hands still held her money, but like I said, she was cute. There were things I could do with my hands. "I write," I said, "sort of."

"You write? That's cool. We have an artists' circle. Would you like to join?"

"I'm not really a joiner."

"Ah," she answered, "you have too little self-confidence. 'You write, sort of', and 'you're not really a joiner', but maybe you're mistaken about you. We need art people, and I think you're an art person."

Maybe you're mistaken about you. I kinda loved that line, and wondered if she used it often. I am not, however, mistaken about me.

"Whatever your 'art circle' is about," I said, "you wouldn't want me around. I've got bad breath and the bad habit of speaking my mind. I'm really not artistic, and in fact I hate what most people call 'art'."

"Yeah," she said, smiling now, "you're perfect for our group."

I probably smiled, too. What I was thinking was, artists' circle my ass, but I was also thinking about her ass. "Tell me about it" is what I said, because it seemed safer than what I was thinking.

"We're assembling a group of artists to perform and create art for people who need art in their lives, people such as these," she said, sweeping an arm toward two passing bums. "Art that's not for men in tuxedos and women in fine $500 dresses."

I still smiled, so she continued.

"We might be doing opera at Sproul Plaza on the campus, or dancing for commuters on BART. Done properly, art can accomplish so much." She paused mysteriously. "But at present, I can't say any more about our project."

Her vibe was platonic, but it didn't feel like a sales pitch, and it's not often a pretty woman pursues me.

"You're nuts," I thought about saying because she obviously was, but it would've been a compliment if I'd said it. Didn't say it, of course. I simply stood there and continued smiling stupidly. 

A crumpled fast-food bag blew by, and she squatted and picked it up. Snatching the pen on my table, she wrote her name and telephone number on the bag. "I'm Cinnamon," she said. "Please call me." She handed me the paper, shook my hand, and then she was gone, wandering down the street.

You don't see real hippies any more, only people wearing the look or smoking the weed or feigning the philosophy. I feign it myself, sometimes. She seemed authentic, though. Many a reefer has lingered on that woman's lips, nary a razor on her legs, and I kinda liked her.

Sometimes it feels like I'm living on the wrong side of the San Francisco Bay, like Frisco is where I ought to be and what am I doing in Berkeley? But my first genuine hippie was on Telegraph Ave, not Haight Ashbury.

I ripped the corner with her number off the bag, slipped it into my notebook, and who knows? I might call, just to ask about art and maybe see what's up Cinnamon's sarong. 

♦ ♦ ♦  

And I ought to call Mark, too. He left a message a week ago, wanting to get together for lunch or something, but I've misplaced his number. For the third time. I'm not fond of phones, so maybe losing his number is psychological.

Or maybe I'm drifting away. Mark's a nice enough guy, but last time we had breakfast together, we didn't have a lot to say.

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Satan came by, and said he'd come up with an answer to Wednesday's What's the fuckin' point? quiz about life. "Live life to the fullest," he announced, as if this was a groundbreaking concept.

"Well, yeah," I said, "but life's fullest is so shallow. Nobody says what they mean, nobody means what they say, and the price of pot is so high it's no help at all. What do you say about that?"

He made a pained face, and said he'd think about it and get back to me.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Back home, after supper and typing, I checked my messages last thing before lights out, and there was another message from Andrea. She wants me to babysit her daughter on Sunday.

"I'll be there," I told her machine when I called back.

And after hanging up, while the phone was still in my hand, I thought about calling Mark and Cinnamon, but I didn't. I was in no mood to talk. I rarely am.

From Pathetic Life #21
Thursday & Friday,
February 15-16, 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.

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