Brenda, Bradley, and Barbara

Slept eleven hours, which is too much and means I'm still sick, and still I woke up weak, feeling like a few more hours of shut-eye would help. Instead, of course, I went to work, but not before upping the dose on my self-medication with these under-the-counter antibiotics. Took two instead of one this morning, and brought two more to have with lunch.

Figure I can judge whether it's too much or not enough, by the size of the white splotches on my tongue, which are a little smaller this morning than last night.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Sold fish on Telegraph, and the walk to and from Telegraph wasn't as arduous as I'd feared, which I'm taking as a sign of recovery. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, haw haw.

I worked between Brenda and a guy I call Jacque the Green. 

Brenda is great. She's a little wacko in the best sense, easy to talk with, and she's lived a life, but I don't feel authorized to tell you the tales she tells me.

She's usually in a good mood and when she's not she just clams up, doesn't get all volatile like some people, like me.

As promised, I gave her a copy of my zine today, something I wouldn't ordinarily do and ain't comfortable with, but she lassoed me into it (2/18). She was considerate enough, of my feelings and my privacy, to stash the zine in her purse instead of reading it at her table. She said she'll read it when she gets home.

Jacque the Green sells left-wing politics. Like a salesman, he always wants to talk to people passing by, about his petitions, his opinions, and what a wonderful President Ralph Nader would be.

One of Jacque's pitches and clipboards is about registering people for the Green Party, and while they're perhaps closest to my own persuasion, hearing the political patter all day when he's three feet away, it loses some of its appeal.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Actually, most of the vendors on the Avenue have lost their appeal to me. Almost every one of them annoys me one way or another, like most people do, only more so, because most people aren't' sitting on the sidewalk selling stuff and always talking about what they're selling.

Most of Telegraph's vendors, especially the licensed ones, are petty chiselers who don't believe in anything but money. I don't complain about them often in the zine, because usually I shut them out of my head. When you work with butt-heads every day, you learn to tune most of it out — a skill I learned working at Macy's.

♦ ♦ ♦   

Today, though, I was feeling shitty — same as for the past two weeks, though it's maybe getting better — and a vendor named Bradly was the worst part of my bad day. When I was a licensed vendor, I worked around Bradley a few times. He's all about the potholders he makes and sells, leaving zero potential for friendship between us, but we used to be cordial — "Good morning," and occasional potholder jokes.

Now that I'm a free-speech vendor, we rarely work on the same block, and he's forgotten that we ever existed on the same sidewalk. 

I usually set up my cart half an hour before Bradley sets up his, and this morning, as has happened several times in recent weeks, he pushed his cart past me on the sidewalk without saying squat, without the tiniest nod of his head to acknowledge my existence, without eye contact as he passed six inches from my table, and without hearing my "Howdy, Bradley," which he never hears, so it gets more fakely enthusiastic every time I shout it.

Maybe he hates me for something I said. That's usually what happens when someone freezes me out, because I do say a lot of stupid shit.

Oh, well. Some day I'll have a chance to disavow his existence like he's disavowed mine. Maybe I'll spot a shopfitter at Bradley's table but not see it, or maybe he'll be in a shouting square-off with a customer or a cop or another vendor and I won't hear it, or he'll need to break a fifty to make a sale and I won't have the money despite having the money. I'll know Bradley, like he doesn't know me.

♦ ♦ ♦  

For all my occasional but recurring complaints about zine-readers approaching me on Telegraph, a zine-reader approached me on Telegraph toward the end of my day, and it went OK. It doubtless helps that she was a redhead, beautiful in an un-ordinary way, smiling a smile that occupied about half her head, when she said, "Hi, you must be Doug. I'm Barbara Cooper." 

Well, I'd have nothing but kind words for Ms Cooper even if my buddy Josh hadn't tried to convince me to be kinder to strangers. She's the artist who painted the cover for Pathetic Life #15 — "Jesus makes one Prozac feed the multitudes," and we've written each other a few harmless letters, so I almost know her. Didn't know she was an attractive redhead, but it's irrelevant for a man of my mountainous size, minimal self-confidence, and toxic breath.

The upshot is, Barbara and I and her roommate — sorry, I've forgotten her name — went for burritos and a couple of beers, and by the time I'd eaten half my dinner she'd gone from being a name on my mailing list to being someone I was glad had said hello.

Point, Josh.

Anyway, it was great meeting her, nice meeting her roomie and all, but I'm feeling sick again so I'm taking two more of these illegal antibiotics and then I've just gotta get some sleep.

From Pathetic Life #22
Saturday, March 9, 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.

Addendum, 2023: Mentioning Barbara Cooper's cover art reminds me: Midway through its run, Pathetic Life began to have cover illustrations, and sometimes illustrations inside. It's frustrating that I haven't been able to publish those pictures along with all the re-typed text, but my scanner didn't survive the move from Wisconsin.

One of these weekends I'll bring my master copies of Pathetic Life to the library, and use their scanner to bring back the pictures.

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