Normally I pack breakfast to eat at work. It generally is something like organic non-fat yogurt mixed with wild blueberries, agave nectar and flax seed cereal flakes. Making breakfast this morning seemed too bothersome because I had something unhealthy on my mind. I was jonesing for a chicken strip-- you know those breaded pieces of chicken breast that are deep fried; crispy on the outside while succulent on the inside. I had only eaten meat one day this week and chicken strips are my heroin. If I could figure out a safe way to inject them-- I would.
Speaking of safe way, just after 7AM I entered the one at the Potrero Shopping Center. I headed straight for the deli counter. But to my surprise the chicken strip pan was empty. It's silvery sides reflecting only the heat lamps from above. I just stood there dumbfounded. On the rare occasion I had been in Safeway there were always chicken strips.
The deli counter attendant gave me a smile she's forced by company policy to give. She asked, "What can I get for you?"
"Do you have any chicken strips?"
"Sorry, we don't cook any until about 7:45."
I stood there with my jaw open. I can't wait forty-five minutes. I'm hungry now!
"Might I suggest some potato salad instead?"
I shook my head no. Does potato salad taste like fried chicken? I don't fucking think so!
I tried to rack my brain at what else I could buy for breakfast. Nothing came to mind. So I wandered the aisles hoping something would jump out at me. But my blood sugar was low and I was getting dumber with each step.
Walking down an aisle I saw a guy loading up his cart with multiple cans of Crisco. It was the name brand stuff, in it's blue and white labled can. He was pulling everyone one off the shelf. Was he going to be baking the world's largest pie crust?
He obviously saw my curious expression. A greasy sideways smirk spread across his face.
I felt trapped. I wanted to ignore him. My mind went blank and the next thing I knew I opened my mouth and said in an accusatory tone, "Are you buying all the Crisco?" I thought to myself Why the hell did you say that. Don't be retarded.
He grunted, "Yeah."
I was trying to get my feet to work so I could just move on.
"Why, you need a can?"
"Nah," I said. But instead of shutting up and leaving I felt compelled to lie, so I added, "I can just buy some later."
"You can take one if you want."
"It's ok-- you obviously seem to need it more than I do."
"Hosting a party this weekend" he said.
It's then that I noticed the tattoo on his forearm, which delineated increments of measure. He made a fisting gesture with a conical shaped hand. I blushed. This guy was hardcore.
"Oh, um, ok. Have fun" I stammered. Thankfully my feet became mobile again. As I scuttled towards the front of the store I began to wonder if having Crisco shoved up one's ass would cause weight gain. I mean, when someones hand and forearm aren't up there as well.
While researching material for a new story I'm writing I came across a website devoted to letting good Christan's know what exactly constitutes Satan's music. The site's writing style is very World Weekly News meets those Chick cartoon tracks.
My favorite appreance on the list is Dolly Parton. Until this morning I didn't think it possible for me to love Dolly anymore than I already do. But with her inclusion on the list-- I found some extra love.
Yesterday I ran into two crazed homeless men driving shopping carts. The first man was at 9th and Brannan, yelling at all the fancy cars that drove by, telling each of the drivers how he was going to "fuckin' choke and slap" them until they were "a bloody mess!"
I happened to be on the phone at the time with my mother. Briefly I mentioned, "There's a crazy man yelling-- you should be able to hear him in a second."
"Fuck you! Fuck you! Fuck you! You goddamn mother fuckin' pieces of shit. I'll slap you until you're bloody!" He spat as I paused next to him at the corner waiting for the light to change. "Fuck you who talk on phones!"
"Are you safe?" my mother whispered as if the man would be able to hear her.
"Yeah, he's not going to do anything but yell." I had spoken too soon. The man had taken off his ratty boots and thrown them out into the street, thankfully away from me, however the funk of his crusted blackened feet swelled in the air. I wanted to vomit.
Before the light changed I moved out into the street to cross. The odor was just too overpowering. I took up a seat on the bricks outside of The Concourse to catch some sunshine and finish up my telephone conversation. I watched the man berate the passers by, several SFPD drove past but never once stopped to talk to the man, and who would expect them to?
After awhile he pushed his shopping cart down the street and was out of my sight for good.
The second man was at 16th at Market by Asqew Grill. At first glance I thought he had a tan until I realized his skin was caked with dirt. He was pulling his shopping cart, pausing every few steps to turn and cock his head as if he were listening to someone.
"Shut the fuck up Joyce" he yelled. "I don't want to hear it anymore. I said, 'shut the fuck up!'" The pulling of his shopping cart became erratic. "Talk to God yourself Joyce! Shut the fuck up! You're nothing more than a goddamn-white-nigga-cum-slut!"
I bit my lip to stifle laughter. Clearly this man was in no mood to hear me giggle. I wondered why Joyce need this guy to talk to God for her? I figured she must have cancer and felt that if she directly asked the Almighty to heal her he wouldn't listen.
He screamed at the top of his lungs, "I'm going to kill you Joyce! I'm going to fuckin' kill you!"
Is that anyway to talk to someone who has cancer? I thought.
He started slapping frantically at the air as if he was being attacked by a swarm of bees. He let go of his shopping cart and it began to roll down the incline building up momentum and heading straight for me. I side stepped and let the shopping cart hit a parked car. The car's alarm sounded.
"You fuckin' bitch! Look at what you've done Joyce!" He ran to his cart, which had left a tiny scratch on the car's door.
"You're a cunt! A big fucking white-nigga-cum-slut cunt!"
I felt really sorry for Joyce. Of all the people she could talk to-- she picked a crazy one.
I have nothing extraordinary to post right now, although I have been diligently writing, nothing is finished. So today, let's temporarily change the name of my blog to "Recycled from my Sent Box". Said aloud that sounds perverted, like scent box. Where would a scent box be located on the body? Anyone?
Here's an anecdote edited for blog publication:
Thursday night I was out with a friend who happens to be a therapist. Friend + therapist = free therapy. I love free things even if they aren't remotely helpful-- like the earphones from JetBlue or STD tests when I haven't had sex in days, weeks or years. We were out in the Castro dining at Ristorante Capri, making fun of our mega-creepy waiter who told us "if you don't tip you need to strip." I think the waiter used to be a window-licker on the short-bus, if you know what I'm saying. My first clue was he looked like Corky from "Life Goes On."
Outside a seventy-something was making out with a twenty-something. They were shit-faced drunk. I was thinking "good for grandpa" until twenty-something lifted up the back of grandpa's shirt revealing grandpa's sagging jeans, his old wrinkly ass now in our view. Junior started fingering grandpa's ass curtains and I just lost it. I work in porn. I've seen midgets get fucked by donkeys. But grandpa getting a prostrate exam was something I didn't really need to see. I glanced down at my gnocchi with bolognese and all I saw was a bowl full of geriatric hemorrhoids.
"Especially in a place like this!" a disheveled forty-something man said as I walked through the front door of the Shell gas station. His forefinger and thumb joined together like a bird's beak. He pecked loudly with them on the counter to emphasis his point. "Satan's got San Francisco!"
What had I just walked into? The clerk behind the counter stared blankly at the man. I rounded an aisle to grab a bag of pretzels.
"The Devil's got a hold of Frisco!" His voice was drunk with fire, brimstone and possibly a forty of Mickey's. "Just look at this place and the kind of people who come to live here."
What's this guy got against Asians I wondered. Stopping by the refrigerator case I grabbed a Red Bull and headed toward the counter.
"Did you know that San Francisco was the first place in the whole world to have a Church of Satan? It was founded here in San Fran!"
A woman stopped by the counter with a bottle of Coke. She sighed loudly, left it there and walked out the door. The attendant looked at me and gave me a half smile of acknowledgment. The cogs in my mind started to spin-- do I engage this guy?
Twenty years ago I attended a Wednesday night service at my hometown's Assembly of God Church. After a four hour indoctrination on the evils rock music, popular culture, Anton LaVey and the Church of Satan I was frightened not only of Bon Jovi but also by the City of San Francisco. I had horrible nightmares about being sacrificed at 6114 California Street, the headquarters of the Church, in a dark room filled with upside down crosses and pentagrams. For a year I slept at the foot of my sister's bed too traumatized to be alone at night.
As the years passed the message from that night faded. Everything that was told to me became outright silly. I started to think for myself and do my own investigation. That's when Anton LaVey became less of a threat and more of an intriguing research subject.
I could tell this guy in the gas station didn't live in the City. The foremost indicator was his use of "Frisco" and "San Fran", two terms that make locals whence. If San Francisco is ever shortened by residents it just to the initials: SF. No doubt this guy was from a small town not unlike mine. Though years my senior he seems to lack the drive to ever challenge what he'd been told-- to find the truth, anywhere other than in the bottom of a bottle or an occasional church service.
"Satan's church is alive in Frisco!"
"That's cool" the cashier offered in response.
"That's cool?!" exclaimed the man. "You think that's cool? What's cool about the Church of Satan?"
The cashier smirked.
"Um," I started with trepidation "you know the use of the name Satan by the Church of Satan is symbolic and not of a literal anthropomorphic deity, right?"
The man turned to face me. "Huh?" he huffed in an exasperated tone.
"Well, I don't mean to butt in, but you said Satan's church is alive in Frisco but the Church of Satan doesn't actually believe in a deity named Satan, to them he doesn't really exist, so he can't really be alive here, at least not from the Church of Satan's standpoint."
"Who are you? A satanist?"
I regretted opening my mouth. I needed caffeine not a headache. His response was typical. Instead of countering with a rational rebuttal he wanted to attack me.
"No, I'm not. I'm just educated."
Offense sprouted up on his face. I could see little pitchforks in his eyes.
I continued, "Satanists believe an individual is his or her own god. Them calling themselves satanists has more to do with eliciting a reaction out of people like you."
"Whatever," the man said turning away from me "The Devil's got you too!" He looked at the cashier and plopped down some cash "give me thirty-five dollars on pump seven." He walked outside the store.
The cashier looked relieved. He looked over to his coworker who was mopping the floor. "Like we need to hear that shit."
I let out a little chuckle. Part of me wanted to dart outside, yell unintelligibly while acting like I was possessed by a demon. I would have loved to screamed, "don't come back to my city or I'll take your soul!" But I still hadn't had my caffeine fix and wasn't really in the mood.
Growing up, Saturday morning was supposed to be all about
the cartoons. For 90 minutes I would get my Smurf on in relative bliss. I was
an early riser-- sleeping in meant fewer hours to enjoy cartoons and getting up
late meant the only things on TV would be sports, Solid Gold or Soul Train. While
I loved cartoons it was the commercials I really remember wanting to watch.
Easily influenced by advertising I most certainly wanted to exclaim, "L'eggo my eggo!" when someone was to steal my toaster waffle. Only my mom didn't buy Eggos. Instead she'd have my dad make waffles which he would freeze. His waffles weren't a golden hue of scrumptiousness. Instead they were the color of burnt pine. Subjecting his waffles to the toaster meant the outsides would burn while the insides became mealy and tasted of frozen fish.
I thought Mrs. Butterworth would talk to me if I was a really good kid. Needless to say she never once even said "Hi."
Anything being peddled on TV I wanted, especially breakfast cereals. "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!" Only my mom didn't buy us Trix. Instead she opted for those five pound bags of economical cereal found on the bottom shelf at our local market. The bags covered in dust with generic names like Tastey O's. They never came with a prize inside or a game to play.
Lately I’ve become convinced I am not a Champion because I
never got to eat Wheaties.
Television advertising was so pervasive I actually thought R-O-L-A-I-D-S spelled relief. I couldn't believe when I missed that word on a spelling test.
But better than breakfast cereals or heartburn relief were the commercials for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. To this day my sister and I still sing one special musical commercial:
On a tree lined residential street some kids are playing baseball. One kid at bat swings at the ball and belts a homer. Only there's a large crash. Out comes an old man from the house singing "Who broke my window?"
Kid: Telling the truth isn't going to be easy.
Old man: Glass everywhere you look. Who broke my window?
Kid: Why is my stomach all nervous and queasy?
Old man: Aah-- some kids' ball. Who could the little culprit be? Who threw this ball? Did someone see?
Kid: He's so mad; I'm really scared
Old man: Aw kids these days they don't care!
Kid: Mr. Robertson, Mr. Robertson
Old man: What a horrible mess
Kid: I broke your window with my ball
Old man: You?
Kid: And I've come to confess
Old man: You knew I'd be angry--
Old man: Aren't you afraid--
Old man: You'll have to pay for this mess you've made, but I'm proud of you child, for you have displayed honor the stuff from which heroes are made!
Kid: I TOLD THE TRUTH
Old man: He told the truth!
Fucking brilliant. I so wanted to be a Mormon after that, only my mom wouldn't let me. She wouldn’t give me a reason other than we were Evangelical Christians, at least we were that week.
The only things I knew about Mormons were they rode bicycles, wore nice white shirts with dark pants and told the truth despite fearing crotchety old men. When my mom wasn’t paying attention my sister Melissa and I dressed in our Sunday finest and set out on a mission.
Weeks earlier my parents had finally bought me my very own bike. It was a black Schwinn Mantaray with yellow decals. Melissa also had a Schwinn only her bike was white with pink handles, decals, and rainbow streamers. It had a fat banana seat that was almost big enough for two. Of course my sister wouldn’t let me ride my new bike. She ordered me to ride her’s instead. But I didn’t care we were now Mormons.
My mother was very apprehensive about us interacting with any of the neighbors. The kids were hoodlums and their parents were trashy except for the people next door, the Crocketts, who were elderly and Seventh Day Adventists.
But there were no restriction on the neighborhood pets and who better to become Mormons than animals. So my sister and I set off on our bikes to convert the Crocketts’ Siamese cat.
Angie had always just sort of been around. Her belly was well hung and just barely touched the ground when she stood. If she was to run it would flip from side to side like a lumpy pendulum flopping up onto either side of her back. She was an easy target for us.
We pulled our bikes into the Crocketts’ driveway. Being Saturday they were away at church, something my sister and I couldn’t quite fathom at the time, since we went to church on Sundays like normal people, like Mormons.
Walking around the Crocketts’ house and letting ourselves through their side gate we found Angie relaxing in the shady patio. Cheri Crockett loved wind chimes and dozens hung above our heads twinkling in the wind. As the melody sank to the ground we started singing to Angie quoting the LDS commercial.
By the time we sang “Mr. Robertson, Mr. Robertson” Angie’s ears were back. She’d had enough. This was one pussy who was happy to be a Seventh Dayer. She jumped up and arched her back, let out a disdainful hiss and ran toward the wood pile. Her fat belly almost knocked her off course; the poor cat couldn’t run in a straight line.
Bemused Melissa and I followed but Angie was well hidden. “Let’s go sing to Harley and Dana’s goats,” Melissa suggested.
We went back to the front of the house and got on our bikes. We road across the street to sing to the goats. We jiggled the side yard gate but it wouldn’t budge. Half defeated I said, “Let’s go turn my stuffed animals into Mormons instead.”
Melissa smiled with agreement. We hopped on our bikes and road home.