December 2001

Christmas 2001

My Christmas this year was anything but traditional. I had planned to do a trip to southern California…one of my “freeform road adventures” in which I simply throw some clothes in the trunk, set out driving, and let the vacation take whatever form occurs, but I kept getting invitations locally that I didn’t want to refuse and these finally just closed the vacation window. The strange part was that I had, in anticipation of my trip, earlier refused a Christmas Day invitation and then had not got another, so I spent most of my Christmas Day writing material for NoeHill. Very non-traditional.
However, in mid-morning I had a brilliant idea, and followed through by grabbing an armload of my jellies and driving around to all the shops that I frequent to see if they were open. For those that were, I took jars of jelly in for everyone who was working.

Actually, of all the places I drove past (and I didn’t get that far out of the neighborhood), the only ones that were open were the two corner groceries that I use (where in both cases it was the owner himself who was working because in both cases they were fairly new and struggling to make a go of it), the 24-hour 7-11 down at 18th and Noe, and the gas station at 17th and Castro (where in both cases the lowliest employee was working because the long-term owner was so consumed with greed that he wouldn’t shut down for an instant but would not even consider working himself to give one of his miserable employees a holiday).

I got so much fun out of this that on Boxing Day, I again ventured laden with jelly and hit my bookstore, my gym (which my doctor has convinced me that I really must return to because of yet another problem too tedious to get into), my video store, and A.G. Ferrari.

The surprise and delight registered by all these workers was a great joy to me, and to a significant degree relieved the depression that typically accompanies the holiday season.

I look forward to 2002. It’s bound to be better than 2001.

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About Those Aussies

I forwarded to a number of folks the entertaining list of Australian Christmas mishaps sent me by a traitorous Aussie friend. The list concluded with the item, “8 Australians cracked their skulls after passing out while throwing up in the toilet.” However, what sparked the most interest in my readers, as evidenced by their getting back to me on it, was the item, “3 Australians die each year testing if a 9V battery works on their tongue.”

Frankly, I was a little disappointed, as not a single reader admitted to having performed this experiment himself. I say “himself” because no woman would engage in such, to put the nicest spin on it, guy-type behavior. I had rather expected many of my readers to be, or at least to have been in their youths, a bit more, well, guy-like. Of course I’ve always made a effort to be as guy-like as possible, and this has led me into adventures which I now view with some regret, although not nearly as much regret as that with which I viewed them immediately afterwards and all too often, during. Like, for example, that encounter as a four-year-old with the repeatedly forbidden open Christmas tree light socket.

Not to mention others in subsequent years too numerous to detail.

So, for those wanting more information on this highly charged subject, the first time I licked a battery was also the last time I’ll lick a battery. I didn’t even lose consciousness although this experiment may well have been the source, rather than AIDS, of my brain damage. Then again, it may be just a symptom.

At any rate, I can make the following recommendation: For persons (males of all ages) who wish to mess around with batteries, I suggest starting with one whose discharge has been announced by your smoke detector. It’s not really completely discharged, but most guys find that little taste of the lash sufficient.

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Pride Goeth

Well folks, pride has taken a pratfall. I suppose if I’d thought about it I could have predicted yesterday evening’s occurrence, as all my life I’ve heard people talk about experiencing this sort of thing without it ever dawning on me that it could happen here.

But first, as is my wont, a little background. I was expecting the arrival of my ex Bob, the boyfriend featured in “Gay at Oracle”, as we have recently been seeing each other (in a non-Biblical sense, that part being taken care of by his current boyfriend) and I had made reservations for dinner at JohnFrank, this trendy new place occupying the triangular building at the westsouthwest corner of Church and Market and 14th.

That building and I go way back. One afternoon in the summer of 1974, when we were all young and beautiful and ripped for days, I got a frantic call from a friend telling me to draw on something tight and meet him at The Truck Stop, which was the name of the twenty-four hour gay restaurant occupying the building at that time. It seems that the bartenders at the attached bar, appropriately enough called The Rear End, had simultaneously tendered their resignations, and there was an immediate need for some people to take that night’s shift.

Scab work suited me, and after closing time I accepted Management’s offer of work a couple of nights a week. Tips were lousy, as this was far from a hot bar, but it was fairly entertaining and I learned a few things. Like don’t ever cross drag queens, as wearing those uncomfortable shoes makes them really sharp tongued and they will just flay you alive.

At the end of the summer, when I told Management I was going to return to Texas, neglecting to mention that I was on the faculty at a community college, they offered me a full-time job. Even now, I wonder whether I made the right decision to return to Midland College for a final year. Who knows? If I had stayed, I might have parlayed that position into a job at one of the really hot bars and amassed enough of a down payment to get into the real estate boom that was just beginning. I could have been rich, rich, rich. Of course I’d probably also have got AIDS really early and been long since dead, so maybe it was just as well that I declined.

Flash forward twenty-seven years.

JohnFrank makes better use of the property than the various restaurants that had occupied it in the interim. The kitchen and storage areas have been shifted back into the area where the bar was, leaving a large, open isosceles triangle for the restaurant seating. The top (damn, I’ve forgot the term from geometry) of the triangle is at Church Street, and the windows face 14th Street and Market Street. This intersection is jumping. The J Church, with its massive, sleek Breda cars, rumbles right past after a brief stop at Market Street. The F Market, which by now exclusively runs cute little restored historic streetcars from all over the world, clangs along Market Street and stops at Church. Muni Metro is underground and has escalators coming up for inbound and outbound lines on either side of Market Street. The corner is also a major bus transfer point, and numerous popular bars and restaurants are within a half-block of the intersection, so the streets are thronged day and night. It’s hopping, just hopping. Among the restaurants are the see-and-be-seen Mecca, the ever-popular Chow, Miyabi sushi, the flagship Just Desserts, etc. and of course, the best of the lot, JohnFrank.

And you sit there in serene luxury watching this 3-D movie all around you as top-of-the-food-chain delicacies are served you by impeccable waitpersons, low-key charming and sleek.

But I’ve got ahead of myself. I was cleaning up and getting dressed in anticipation of Bob’s arrival. From what I’d heard about the place, it was extremely comfortable but not at all formal, so a tie would be out of place. Then again, I didn’t feel quite right about the baggy levis and tee shirt attire that I’d been wearing exclusively since my return from Amsterdam last May. So I went to my selection of Dockers, which was what I had been wearing to Texas for the past few years, and grabbed the nicest-looking pair.

I couldn’t button the waist.

I went through the entire damn closet and found two pairs that I could just barely button, but the discomfort after a few seconds made it clear that there was no way I could get through a dinner wearing them. How could this have happened?

And then I realized that I’ve been slowing down all year, and after I learned in the summer that my walking problem was pretty much incurable, willpower to continue exercise failed and despair set in. My appetite remained as voracious as ever. So it was a simple combination of gluttony and lipodystrophy in the absence of that calorie-burning exercise. I can wear the baggy levis because they fit lower on the waist and allow the belly to expand freely above them.

Whadda we do now, Lieutenant? Well, for supper I’m having seven sugar snap peas from the Mouas blanched in distilled water. That and a tablespoon of rice.

Of course for lunch I had one of May’s fabulous hot pastrami sandwiches and then, upon my return home, still not satisfied, a chocolate milkshake done in the blender with a pint of Dreyer’s French Vanilla ice cream, a couple of good slugs of my chocolate sauce, an abstemious little dribble of lowfat milk, and a banana. But I topped it off with a Pravachol.

Note: The following January, the owners of JohnFrank decided that there was simply not enough local demand to support a fine restaurant, so they redecorated the place, packed in lots more tables, renamed it to Home, started serving a menu of down-home American food, and cut the prices in half. The atmosphere is entirely changed, of course, but the views are the same and the food is very good. So good that at the new prices it’s a bargain like Chow. The down side is that it’s now as busy as Chow.

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