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Ashley's big dinner

When it was time for my morning constipational, I opened the door and stepped into the hall for the 57-step trek to the toilet. The door to room 410 was slightly ajar, though, which means the skinny white guy was in there, and awake. 

This launched a complicated jumble of thoughts I'll try to squeeze into one paragraph: If someone leaves their bedroom door open a few inches, it probably means they're leaving soon, or leaving it open because guests are coming, but I didn't want to see that guy, or anybody who'd want to see that guy. And if he came out of his room during my long walk down the hall, and saw me going into the john, then I'd be sitting in a stall pooping, completely vulnerable to attack because you can't fight with your pants down. An unlikely scenario, perhaps, but that was my thought in the moment. 

Call me a coward — it's true — but I didn't want to deal with any of it. I'll take trouble, even make trouble with him again, but this morning I was more rational than a few nights ago, when we'd called each other motherfuckers on the stairway, so I turned around and walked back into my room.

Still had to poop, though, so I dropped it warm and lumpy on a week-old Chronicle sports page, then folded and stuffed it inside an empty bread-wrapper, which I'll leave at 410's doorstep, next time that motherfucker's door is closed.

♦ ♦ ♦  

Same old scene on Telegraph today: the cops harassed the bums, the bums begged for quarters, and now and then somebody bought a fish. The only real difference between today and any other day on Telegraph was, today I forgot to bring my notebook.

It happens, and when it does I'll usually jot shorthand versions of my brilliant observations on a page of a newspaper, or a clean-seeming piece of litter that blows by. Today I was tired, though. I took not taking the notebook as an omen, and took the day off from taking notes.

Trust me, though. Nothing interesting happened. I might not have taken any notes even if I'd taken my notebook.

♦ ♦ ♦  

A couple of weeks ago, I received in the mail a photocopied invitation to dinner with Ashley Parker Owens, of Global Mail. The invitation was one of her projects, and I always enjoy her projects: She said she'd randomly selected 50-60 names from her mailing list, sent invitations to all of them, and if eight people showed up she'd call it a smashing success.

There've been other invitations in the mail, from names or non de plumes known to me only by their zines. "Hey readers, come to my birthday bash," says someone who writes a zine, and of course, I never attend. Never even consider it. I hate parties, and it's only a slight exaggeration to say that I hate people, especially in crowds of more than two.

Ashley's invitation included the word 'networking,' but I'm never part of any network. I am a rock, you know? An island. I'm a loner, and I like being a loner, and everything about Ashley's big dinner for 50 or 60 or only 8 people sounds like the opposite of anything I'd want to attend, so I decided to go.

It's time to shake myself up. When I think of parties, I think of the few I've attended and hated, but hanging out with the kind of people who make and read zines would be better, I was certain. I'd had a grand time at Barbzilla's fake party, so why not try the real thing? 

Ashley's shindig started at 7:30, so I'd have some time to myself after getting off fish-work at 5:00. In my backpack — where I'd forgotten to bring my notebook — I'd remembered to bring several zines to read during the between time, and also several copies of Pathetic Life to hand out at dinner if anyone wanted one. The invitation said it was OK to bring gifts, and the zine is all I have.

But the damnedest thing happened. At 5:00, I started packing up the fish-stand like I do every fish-day, and then I walked the route by rote to Jay's house to lock everything up. And then, same as at the end of every other fish-day, I walked to the BART station and came home. Sprawled naked on my bed, I ate sandwiches and listened to the baseball game, then fell asleep.

It wasn't until Saturday morning, when I saw Ashley's invitation still stapled to my door, that I remembered that I'd forgotten. I'd been nervous about going, sure, to my first big social event since who the hell knows when, but I'd actually intended to be there. And damn it, I'd completely forgotten.

From Pathetic Life #24
Friday, May 10, 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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