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Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Pure San Francisco Moment.

As much as liberals bug the hell out of me, the conservative mindset just boggles me. I am sitting out side at a café in the city. Next to me, a man reads his paper and smokes. Smoking doesn’t bother me as much as it bugs a lot of people in this city. As long as I am up wind or outside, have at it.My cell phone rings. A friend asks me if I have heard about Charlie, the dog from Iraq. Apparently, it is against the uniform code of military justice to keep a pet on base. But since a bunch of Marines took a liking to him, they contacted the SPCA and with some cloak and dagger nonsense and positive PR, the dog was flown to the U.S. to live his life out in freedom. I wish we could say the same for the people of Iraq.

When I get off the phone I can already feel this guy staring a hole into me.
“My father served in the Marines.”
Here we go.
“That’s great.” I say before going back to my notebook.
In classic San Francisco café etiquette, the people around us go silent waiting for the entertainment to start. Café conversations in this town is what NASCAR is to the south. You enjoy them and find them interesting, but if something goes horribly wrong and it ends with sparks and a crash; cool!
“I don’t appreciate what you said.” He tells me looking straight into my eyes.
“You don’t appreciate what? That you overheard my conversation and a fact?”
His eyes narrow and then in a wonderful display of intelligent debate, he blows a huge cloud of cigarette smoke into my face. I don’t cough. I’m use to it. The two women I have lived with were both chain smokers and most of the places I do comedy in allow you to smoke. I just stare back and say, “I will take your second hand smoke if you take my second hand knowledge.”
A guy a few tables away giggles slightly and a girl not really reading a book since this started smiles widely.
He makes a big theatrical production out of folding his Wall Street Journal up before storming off.
I don’t appreciate what you said.
What is supposed to be my reply to that? Sorry, stranger I have offended without knowing it. Teach me to ignore facts and shape my beliefs to the agenda you are willing to defend in the face of overwhelming proof.
It always starts the same with these guys too. It’s either, I was in the military or my father was in the military or my son is in the military. Great. I have never said anything negative about military service. My brother was in the Army.
Starting a conversation about the war by saying, my father was in the military, is not only a cheap way to attempt grabbing the moral high ground, it is the equivalent of having a discussion on race where a white guy starts by saying, I have a black friend.
I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet.
The girl with the book points to the table he was at and says, “He forgot his phone!”
Awesome!
The guy who giggled walks over to it, picks it up and says, “lets call some place like Iran and leave a message that will sound like code!”
You have to laugh at this idea. We all know there is no such thing as privacy anymore. The FBI just said yesterday that they improperly accessed millions of Americans private data on line in 2006. This would absolutely set off some bells in the basement of the Pentagon.
The man returns though.
He rounds the corner just in time to see the kid holding his cell phone. The guy freaks!
“Thief! Stop Thief!” He starts yelling.
The kid, out of sheer panic, slams it back down on the table and walks backwards inside the café. People on the street are looking around expecting to see a purse-snatcher or armed robbery in progress. All they see is a skinny kid looking like he is shitting his pants in the doorway of a café as a man twice his size and pointing at him runs toward a table.
This is pure NASCAR! Everyone can sense there is about to be a pile up.
Then, fate, karma, the Universe, whatever intervenes in a bit of poetic justice.
He trips!
Don’t worry. The guy is fine. He is a smoker so it wasn’t like he was moving very fast to begin with anyway.
Me and a few other strangers go to his side. A guy oblivious to any of the drama that happened a minuet ago offers his hand to the man.
“Get your fucking hands off me!” The man yells.
The potential Good Samaritan first looks hurt then pissed.
“God damn homeless shit!” He says.
You have love that too. In San Francisco, you can be black, gay, transgender or whatever. But the two worse things you can call someone is homeless or meter maid.
As our disgruntled conservative gets back to his feet and sees his phone sitting on the table, he yells out at the complete stranger who attempted to come to his aid. “Faggot!”
Well, you can’t yell that in front of a café in San Francisco and expect no reaction.
Unless you are one.
I can’t be sure, but I think that’s how the gay pride parade starts.
Now, everyone freaks and this stranger to our city realizes what he has just done.
A woman, a lesbian holding a recyclable Whole Foods shopping bag, turns to him and asks, “What did you just say?”
His eyes go wide.
She puts the grocery bag down, puts her hands on her hips and repeats herself. “What did you just say?”
Oh this is far better than anything I could of wished on him.
He starts to stutter. The guy he originally yelled at, the kid in the doorway and a few other café patrons are all looking at him. Meanwhile, the phone still sits on the table by an empty coffee cup and I am smiling like a man about to enjoy an ass hole getting a beat down from a lesbian.
That’s when his phone rings.
Want to guess what his ring tone is?
The mission impossible theme! Seriously. The mission impossible theme!
Oh the Universe has a sense of humor indeed. I tip my hat to you, sir!
I laugh and so do a few of the other people.
“That’s my phone.” He manages to say.
The lesbian picks it up and throws it into the middle of the street. All that softball has really paid off too, because it is out there in the middle of traffic going the other way.
She just smiles that smile of, what are you going to do big man? Besides, there are about 5 or 6 people surrounding him now. What is he going to do?
He just turns and leaves as the small crowd that has gathered breaks into spontaneous applause.
God I love this city!

2 comments:

Dean said...

Remind to walk around with you some weekend drinking coffee in cafes...

Joe said...

Dean,
This sort of thing always seems to happen to me. Or I am around it when it happens.