Over It

OK, folks, it’s over. Done. Finito. I have finally seen them as the beasts they are.

My love affair with the SUV is over.

It happened quite suddenly day before yesterday afternoon when I was out looking for some California Bay soap. See, back in the spring I had bought a bar from this charming young woman in a stall in the left arcade in front of the Ferry Building.

I kind of felt sorry for her because nobody was even looking at any of her stuff, which was a collection of fancy-schmancy, new-agey, alternative, back-to-the-landy, hand-made things in which my interest level is negative. But my eye alit on a normal-size bar of soap wrapped with a very simple band of paper showing a California bay leaf (Umbellularia californica), and I immediately thought of Rina. Of course, you don’t see too many bars of California Bay soap in Amsterdam. So I bought it.

When I gave it to Rina, she ripped off the shrink-wrap and sniffed it. I did, too, and immediately wanted it for myself. I don’t like perfumy things, but this was quite nice. Hmmm, I thought, it’ll be like I was rolled vigorously in a bay leaf pit until I smelled good, plucked out, brushed off, and sent on my way trailing a faint whiff of the forest.

So when I got back I looked for the nice young woman’s booth at the Ferry Building…on Saturday, and then Tuesday, and then Thursday, and finally, in desperation, on Sunday. I’d have looked other days if there’d been an exterior market on them. Alas, she was gone.

Day before yesterday it was a really nice afternoon and I decided to look for the soap in some of those fancy unguent places in the Castro. I swear, I saw soaps made out of every other aromatic on the planet, but no California Bay.

I had given up looking for it and was about to stop in at Cala for some bread when an SUV driver flung his door open at just the right moment for me to discover that the space I have been allowing so that cars couldn’t “door” me was inadequate for an SUV. But of course. It stands to reason that the doors on an SUV would be proportional, so they’d stick out farther when you fling them open. No point in looking, since you’re invulnerable.

You know how in action movies they slow the motion down so you can see everything? Well, I keep noticing during my little events that the motion seems to be speeded up. I mean, one minute, I’m just gliding along so gracefully, describing a clean arc toward my destination when WHAM I’m meeting the ground. Hello again, ground.

One thing for sure, my rendezvous with the ground have all been different. This time my right wheel was stopped abruptly by the end of the SUV’s door and I kind of pivoted to the left. Something got me in my right ribcage, probably the upper part of the door, but that was incidental. My feet were knocked out from under me by the instantly pretty much stationary Segway and I landed, hard, on my left side.

The driver was out of the SUV and hovering over me before I realized what was happening, and he dragged the Segway over to the curb after I had suggested to him that I needed a moment to collect my wits before I started moving. Actually, I was stalling in hopes that things would stop hurting so much.

But of course you can’t just lie there in the street, so I experimented with gingerly small movements, resting various parts of my body on the pleasantly warm asphalt and then finally was able to stand even though the lower half of my left side did not seem to be working very well. Still, as I kept moving things I decided that nothing was broken and that I hadn’t even lost much skin.

At about this point I noticed the SUV driver inspecting his door, so, keeping my best light tone, I observed that if he were concerned that some damage to the vehicle might show up later, perhaps we should go ahead and call the cops to get a proper report written up to establish the facts and make sure he could contact me. This caused him to feign a loss of interest in his vehicle, darting only a couple of surreptitious glances at it before I left.

After I’d tested the Segway to make sure it would still work so I could get home, I bid him goodbye. On the way home I stopped in at the corner grocery at 19th and Castro to get another carton of milk, the previous one having ruptured in the fall and rendered its precious fluid in a thin stream to the gutter.

Thanks to a handful of 1995 vintage hydrocodone left over from some dental surgery, the night passed pleasantly…as did much of yesterday, which was mostly napping except for a couple of obligatory excursions. Today I’m covered with sore spots and scrapes, but it hurts only when I take a deep breath or laugh. Back into the fray!

Helmet, schmelmet.

Then again, I had an aha moment this morning as I was trying, unsuccessfully, to slither out of bed without flexing my ribcage: My second adolescence is turning out pretty much like my first, but so far without the prudence and common sense.

Oh yes, I finally found the folks who make that wonderful California Bay Soap. They’re at the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, southeast end: Juniper Ridge.

And here’s a Prius silhouette on I-5 somewhere near Arbuckle:


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