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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