August 2020

The Stalker

I’d read about men who, their advances having been rebuffed, then pursued the object of their passion, continually restating their case. The typical victim is a beautiful young woman; however, this is San Francisco, and I once knew a handsome and buffed young Irishman who had overstayed his visa and was stalked by another man who dropped a dime on him and got him deported when he obstinately continued to say No.

What I’d never imagined was that I could be a victim. And especially not now that I’m pushing 80 hard, have been celibate for 25 years, and cannot imagine myself as desirable or even interesting to anyone.

It all started the first time I attended one of Josh and Joe’s Thursday afternoon concerts. While enjoying the music, I was looking around at the crowd and noticed a beautiful young woman photographing the musicians and their audience. We made eye contact, fell into conversation, and immediately clicked. Then, since I was passing out jars of preserves to members of the crowd and the musicians, I gave her a sample and talked about my consuming hobby making and distributing them.

She was there the following Thursday, by which time it felt like we were old friends. She asked if she might meet me at one of my farmers’ markets to be “a fly on the wall” photographing me interacting with my vendors. We did, and over the next weeks we met at all my farmers’ markets as it gradually became clear that she was doing a photo essay on me.

I was flattered to be the subject of a photo essay and started jokingly calling her my stalker. It was strange and just wonderful to be interesting to a young person since normally when you get old and ugly enough, you are invisible because most people can’t even see you.

Then she escalated, wondering if she might photograph me making jam in my apartment, pointing out that if we both wore masks and kept all the windows and the door wide open to get a good draft going through, we’d be safe…or at least tolerably dangerous. So she captured me making a nectarine jam and then, a few days later, the chocolate sauce.

But nothing this good lasts; and she decided to move back to the east coast, where she had better connections to sell her photographs. A career thing.

She gave a going-away party in the front garden of her place. It was lovely, and the masked and spaced guests were all delightful young professionals. I was there to provide contrast, which was easy since I was three times the age of most of ’em. I also rather imagine that I’m three times sorrier than anyone else to see her leave, I liked her so.

Meanwhile, she has yet to supply me with jpgs of my shopping or cooking, so here’s some filler until she does: a sushi place in the Mission.

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Barry’s Newest Replacement

I’ve written in the past about my dealings with homeless people and my trying to help them, starting with Barry. And then a year after Barry’s death, there was his replacement, Daniel, with whom I was more successful. When I returned to San Francisco after a couple of years in Petaluma, I ran into him on the street and discovered that my gentle suggestions had born fruit. He’d gone to the Navigation Center (It provides aid for the homeless) and they’d put a roof over his head.

After I’d been back here in the city for a while, I started noticing that there were often homeless men in front of the doorway of a defunct business at the corner of Virginia and Mission. Then I started looking more closely and realized that it was always the same man. Shortly later I saw that he was often reading a book.

At some point I stopped and spoke to him, finding to my delight that he was articulate and entertaining; so I started stopping every time I passed and slipping him a dollar. And chatting. His name is Bob. He’s twenty years younger than I am and was in the Army in Germany a couple of decades after I was, so we have lots of war stories to exchange. His are a lot more interesting than mine because he was an expert at tiptoeing along the edge of trouble and sometimes fell over.

So why’s he on the corner? There are some gaps in his life story that have yet to be filled in, but what I do know is that he was doing just fine until he got an infection that worsened until the hospital could do no more than save his leg with the knee fused at a 30 degree angle. This makes walking extremely difficult, so much so that he now gets around in a wheelchair.

I’m not even sure what hospital he was treated in. We’d assume the VA hospital, but he was quite the fuck-up and it has occurred to me that his discharge might not have been the right color to get him access to VA benefits.

One thing for sure is that he’s so personable that, including many of us in the old folks’ home, he has a large coterie here who stop to say hello, hand him money, give him food, do errands for him, and just chat. All this makes his life much easier.

The good news is that one of the members of his coterie has offered him a free place to stay. What!!!! Unfortunately, it’s in San Mateo; but it’s close to downtown on flat streets, and he’s pondering it now.

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting doorway on Valencia:

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