Tag Archives: sf

Q: What are the two worst parts of San Francisco?

A: Oakland and San Jose.

(Cross-posted here).

It’s Thursday night, and I don’t feel like venturing out into the city, since a cold is slowly creeping its way into my nose and throat. It’s off to the local bar for a Guinness or two. I don’t like this bar that much; the staff is mostly older, and mostly unfriendly, but tonight the kooky Australian is working, so it’s not so bad. It’s moderately busy, but there’s a seat open at the bar. That’s how stories like this start.

She sits down, at first, a few stools away, at the part where the bar curves around towards the wall where the jukebox is. I think she looks my way. She doesn’t catch my eye too much so I don’t dwell on it, focusing on the sports highlights on the HDTV that’s staring me in the face. I sneak a peek a couple of times, in the mirror that lines the wall behind the bar. Not bad, short-cropped red hair. Boyish looking, I would have thought lesbian would be likely. Not thin.

It isn’t five minutes that go by before she walks up, grabs a stool that’s nearby, and asks if she can squeeze in the space next to me — so she can see the TV. It’s fine by me. We talk a little about sports, our mutual halfheartedness towards it, since that’s all that’s ever on the fucking television in this bar. It’s cool following the Giants this season. The World Cup was great to watch.

She likes my glasses, but it’s hard to believe that they are the most comfortable pair that I own. Maybe it’s easy to believe otherwise, since they’re big, plastic and bulky. But really: they barely feel like they’re there.

“Do you play poolball?”

What?

“Do you play pinball?” My hearing is fucked at this point.

Haven’t in years. Liked it when I was a kid. I especially liked Pin*Bot on the NES, Alien Crush on the TurboGrafix 16. Those were video games, sure, but they tried to be like pinball. We go over to one of the pinball games, this one a is construction-themed. The plights and hassles of the construction industry enshrined in blinking lights and bouncing metal balls.

We play pinball, taking turns each time we lose a ball. I turn out to be terrible, or at least get the terrible luck of having the ball always run down right between the paddles. Or is it skill? The mechanics of the game have got to be mostly deterministic, so if you hit the ball in a certain way it will score, hit it another and it will go down the tubes. Hit the ball right. Haven’t figured that one out yet.

I finally lose all of her quarters down the drain. We play pool instead. I’m better at pool than at pinball, but neither of us are that great. I’m a slightly stronger player, and bag both games. And circling one another, yeah, her hips are on the wide side, but her blouse is loose around the neck and it’s hard not to see her shapely breasts when she leans over to take a shot.

Want a free beer? Play a game of pool with someone. It doesn’t matter who wins. When the game’s over, make a bet: if the other person can clear the rest of the balls on table without scratching, you’ll buy them a beer; if they scratch, they buy you a beer. They play. If they’re any good at all, they’ll sink the rest of the colored balls pretty quick, and if they scratch you’ve got a beer already. They’ll look at you. Look back. Tell them there’s one ball left on the table. Clear the table without scratching.

“Do you smoke?”

I quit. Or I’m trying to quit.

“I did too. But I’ve got some American Spirits if you want to have a cigarette with me.”

Fuck. Yeah.

“I have to warn you, they’re pretty weak.”

Yeah that’s probably a good thing.

We go out and smoke, sitting on a little bench that’s built around a tree. Small talk.

So what do you do?

“That’s a loaded question.”

I know. That’s why I asked it.

It isn’t before long that she clams up pretty tight, and is hunched over and moaning — hardly audibly — that her back is killing her. She asks me to massage her back, lower back. I do my best, thinking to how I’d warm up and cool down after workouts, using a foam roller to roll out the tight spots in my back. And I think about how you can also use a softball to work out tight spots in muscles, with pinpoint precision: so I roll my hands slowly up and down, firmly. She’s silent, and her back after five minutes still feels like a stone.

It’s important to note that as this went on it quickly transitioned from “cute way to get to know someone” to “dealing with a stranger with an actual problem.”

Is that any better?

“Not really.”

I keep at it for a while longer. Not too long a time goes by before she shifts, and lays across my lap. Not too long again after until:

“Can you walk me home?”

Yeah.

So we don’t get but twenty paces from the front of the bar before she’s on the ground, and she lays down and curls up there, head on her backpack, in the landing of the laundromat, now closed but still with its florescent glow bathing her form, doubled over. I wait, crouched over, standing a few paces away, considering just fucking bolting and leaving her there.

“One too many eh?” Says a passerby headed for the bar. Of course we gotta make comments like that. It’s about protecting ourselves from dark things.

It isn’t too long before she regains herself.

“God it feels like someone slipped me some E.”

I help her back up, and we continue on down the street, she’s hanging on to my arm. It isn’t too far to get to her place, down a hill then up another. We stop and marvel at a huge, white Victorian-styled home there on the street, surrounded by a verdant garden and wrought-iron fence all around. Who lives there? There’s only one mailbox. It’s an amazing house. With a yard and all that. There should be four or five people sharing a house like that.

We stop outside her apartment building, sitting in the entranceway to the carport. She’s been taking some new medication, you see, and it mixed poorly with beer. She apologizes, that this kind of thing doesn’t usually happen to her. She digs through her purse, searching for some kind of way to pay me back for being kind and walking her home like this. I say it’s all OK; I’ll just take another cigarette in exchange.

I offer the one guarantee that I can always offer anyone: anything about you is probably OK with me, as long as you don’t try hurting me personally.

We hug each other for a minute, then she goes inside and I go smoke a second cigarette that evening.

Link: Don’t Jump

Link: Music Calendar

A calendar where I’m listing music (and cultural) events that I may be attending.

Link: If San Francisco Crime were Elevation

I’ll be the millionth person in SF to post about this.

Heheh. Mt. Loin. Mission Ridge.

San Mateo master plan for 1990 (ca. 1964).