Journal: 2021

Chris

Here’s another post about someone who’s had a significant impact on my life.

In 1984 when I was wasting my life in the limo business, my friend Al suggested to me that I apply for a tech writing job at the small computer company in Hayward named Qantel where he was a manager. I wouldn’t be working for him; but I’d be in his department, and his recommendation made all the difference. I had no background in computers; but I could write, and for whatever reason I took to it and became a top writer there. Since it was a small company, we all helped each other; and one of the other managers, a man named Chris, took the time to teach me some basic elements of computing while I was writing documentation for the company’s business applications software.

Alas, the company suffered some mismanagement at higher levels and gradually floundered. There was one layoff after another; and many of the better employees, including Chris, jumped ship as it was sinking. He went off to start his own company with a partner. Since I didn’t have much experience to emblazon on a resume, I hung on at Qantel for another couple of years.

But then, as Qantel continued to take on water, Chris asked me to come work for him in his new company, Bayard. Well, I knew that new software companies had the life expectancy of freshly discovered atomic isotopes; but it was also clear that I was already on a sinking ship, so I jumped.

What a joy it was to be sole proprietor of the documentation in a little company with only a dozen employees. Everybody there knew what everybody else was doing, so if you had a question, you knew precisely whom to ask… and he knew that you knew, so he couldn’t evade your question. This made for a highly productive working environment.

In my case, I was using WordPerfect to write the documentation and format it for printing; and since I used it all day long every day, I could play it like a theater organ and exploit it to its fullest.

This was the most enjoyable job I ever had; and, to illustrate that, a brief anecdote.

One day Chris called me into his office and told me that the company needed a couple of technical manuals for which the pertinent data were in UNIX files. I responded that I could write a WordPerfect macro that would gobble through the UNIX files extracting data and organizing them into a user-friendly form. He immediately responded that oh well, of course, he could do the same sort of thing in UNIX. And as he said that, an electric current sizzled between us as we simultaneously realized that the gauntlet was lying there on the floor, twitching.

I turned on my heel as he was turning to his keyboard, and the race was on. I didn’t run back to my cube, but I sure wasted no time.

It took me twenty minutes or so; and after I’d run my macro successfully, I ran back to Chris’ office chortling at my success, only to have him shout as I appeared in his doorway that his had just completed, too.

I do not recall ever having experienced a finer sense of rapport, camaraderie, and brotherly love.

Unfortunately, Bayard never quite became fully seaworthy, and after a couple of years the board saw that its death was imminent. So they told the two partners that they were steering the company onto a beach, not to tell the employees but rather keep us at our oars until there was no longer enough money to meet payroll.Chris and Graham, the other partner, had a different set of priorities; and they not only warned us to start looking in earnest for a new job, but also began networking hard for us. We all got jobs; and in my case and most of the others’, it was because of Chris or Graham’s recommendations. These were men who had been sometimes skipping their own paychecks for a while, so my gratitude is of a high order.

Meanwhile, here’s another pandemic doorway on Valencia:


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A Terrible Week

I’d have thought that the past week, considering the inauguration and all, would have been one during which four years of mounting stress would have dissipated into the ether. Well, no.

It started when I went out on the Segway last week only to have the internal computer die six blocks from home in front of the Salvation Army. The obvious next move was to walk back home, get the Prius, and fetch the Segway. Times have changed because my legs have got weak enough that I made it only two stumbling blocks to a bench in front of St. Luke’s when exhaustion set in and I called a cab, enlisting the driver to help me heave the Segway into the back for the trip home. I wasn’t too alarmed at this point because I figured I could haul it down to the Segway shop in Pacifica where there were old Segways to cannibalize for parts. Times have changed in other ways and the shop was closed since Segways are no longer being made and there’s not enough money in repairs to survive. No big prob, though, because I could go to the Segway shop in Oakland. Well, if it hadn’t closed for the same reason.

Time to drop back and get resourceful. Turns out the owner of that shop in Pacifica is still, when he gets around to it, checking the shop’s answering machine, and he had cluttering his garage an old first generation Segway like mine that he’d be willing to sell me for a song. I wondered whether it would still boot, and he said he’d get back to me. But hasn’t.

While I was thrashing around with no Segway for several days, I was romping around online looking for gen 1 Segways and found quite a few, all priced appropriately for the rich and truly desperate. I also rediscovered that until I get a parking space in the apartment courtyard, taking the car is hard owing to the tedium of finding a parking place on the street upon my return. And then finally, finally, it occurred to me that I had in my storage closet an old Segway with a broken handlebar assembly but a working computer. Aargh, should have thought of this days ago.

So I dug it out of the closet, put a good handlebar on it, and fired it up. I looked carefully to make sure the tires hadn’t gone flat and set out on a couple of errands, on the way home from which I finally noticed that I’d not looked carefully enough and that the tires had been, in fact, flat. It came as no surprise when I got home and found that the tires would no longer hold air because I’d traumatized them too badly in that ride. OK, no prob because in the closet were also four wheels with good tires. All I had to do was take off the ruined wheels and replace them with working ones.

I’d changed wheels before, and I knew that all I needed was a 16mm deep socket and a driver because I’d given away my driver with all my sockets several years ago because I’d never need them again. No prob. All I had to do was grind down to the Auto Zone on Cesar Chavez at South Van Ness and pick up the socket and a cheap driver. So I went down there and bought the socket and driver only to get home and discover that the socket was too big to fit into the wheel. Hmmm, I knew damn well that I’d used a 16mm socket years ago, but decided maybe I had it wrong, so I went back down there and bought a 14mm socket but it turned out too small. Only afterwards did it strike me that I should have tried both sockets before I left the store. So I threw up my hands and decided that I’d take the Segway to this auto garage a few blocks away and pay them to switch the wheels.

The next day I mounted an expedition, towing the Segway with the bad computer and good tires behind the one with the good computer/bad tire combination. Got to the damn garage and found it shut up tight. What the hell! Had it gone out of business? OK, I thought, I’ll go to this motorcycle shop a few blocks in the other direction on Valencia. But it wasn’t open either. Then I happened across my homeless friend and complained. (It’s a standing joke between us that so many people love complaining about their problems to the homeless.) Well, he may be homeless, but he knows what day it is. In this case, Sunday.

So Monday morning I went again to the auto garage, which was open, but the owner flatly refused to work on the Segway. He was nice about it, explaining that he couldn’t work on motorcycles either because his insurance wouldn’t cover him. I told him about buying a 16mm socket and it not working even though I knew in my heart it was the right size. He informed me that there are two types of socket, thick and thin wall. Obviously the Segway requires the thin wall, and he demonstrated by grabbing a socket from his tool box and showing me that it fit onto the Segway. In that case, I can do it myself if I have the right socket, but by this time I was not in the mood to track down someplace that would sell me a thin socket, so I went back down to the motorcycle shop. Again closed, so I turned around and started going down Mission Street looking for a garage.

Ha! There’s a tire store in the second block. The guy was kinda negative at first, never having dealt with a Segway, but I told him how I really needed a working Segway owing to my bad legs and he relented, mentioning as an aside that he’d have to charge me as if the wheels were on a car. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him how much I needed the Segway. His mechanic had a thin 16mm socket, and in no time at all switched the wheels even though I had to explain to him that the wheels seat on a taper and you have to give ’em a good rap with a rubber mallet to remove them. That took only a moment and was good for my testosterone. It also took some of the sting out of being flayed alive on the price. Umm, no. It made the pain worse.

But I was free, free, free at last. Free to ride the Segway to Cliff’s Hardware and pick up a thin 16mm deep socket so I’m now able to change my own wheels. Free to stop grinding my teeth, sit back, and marvel at how I could create a week-long drama out of such thin cloth.

Meanwhile, here I am towing one Segway with another.



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Getting Away With Things

I started by tipping a full glass of Diet Dr Pepper onto the keyboard of my laptop. Ummm, make that into. Of course I snatched it up and turned it on its side; but, as expected, the lights went out. I’d bought the laptop to use as a travel computer, and it served that purpose steadfastly until I stopped traveling and put it aside. In that case, you ask, what was it doing sitting open on my desk? Well, when the pandemic struck and my beloved Spanish class transitioned from the classroom to Zoom, I was grateful to have the laptop since my flat TV that I’m using as a monitor doesn’t have a camera in it. (Actually, it may very well have a camera and has been spying on me all along through collusion among Samsung, Google, and QAnon; but no, we’re not doing conspiracies anymore under the new administration. Well, some of us aren’t, but it appears that those who’d been most embroiled in them previously have redoubled their efforts.)

I very rarely looked back at my life analytically when I was young, but that’s no longer the case.  Now I realize that for my entire life I’ve been getting away with things, by which I mean that I’ve routinely escaped my just desserts for my misdeeds and blunders.  I’m a poster child for getting away Scot-free. 

There was that drag race when I was a junior in high school and a bunch of us in two Explorer Scout troops went out to the Crane sandhills south of Odessa for a capture the flag war.  I drove my parents’ 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 and my friend Bill Danley was in his parents’ 1956 Buick Electra.  We started side by side on the flat, straight highway; and, thanks to the Olds’ Hydromatic transmission,  I left Danley in my dust.  By the time the Olds had topped out at 114 MPH, the Buick was small in my rear view mirror and I let off the gas a bit.  Then, as he began getting closer, I floorboarded it again.  This was to no avail, as he kept getting closer until he passed me at a brisk clip, seemingly continuing to accelerate.  It was then that I was told the old adage about Buicks: they could pass anything on the road except a gas station.  Bottom line, though, was that we both got away with the drag race.

That was far from the first time I got away with something, and I have continued to do so.  My greatest triumph was managing to conceal my incompetence well enough to get an honorable discharge from the Army, but I followed that by tricking Texas Tech into granting me an MA.  Thousands of little victories followed.

My latest is a case in point.

Anyhow, I spent the rest of the day combing the Internet for the cheapest possible laptop with a camera and went to bed thinking I’d go down in the morning to Costco and Best Buy to see what they had in stock. When morning came, I spat out the tooth grindings I’d generated in the night, made coffee, and came in here to do an email check. In angry frustration, I roughly jabbed the dead laptop’s On button; and WOW, it came on as if nothing had happened. Working through the forensics, I decided that since the beverage had no sugar, when it had dried overnight it no longer shorted out the laptop; and I’d just saved myself a few hundred dollars by once again Getting Away With Something. My friend Jim suggested that it was not necessarily the absence of sugar that permitted the restoration of the laptop. After all, we’d expect the shorting out would have destroyed some delicate little something in there, so we decided to call it a case of miraculous resurrection.

Meanwhile, here’s some more Valencia Street decoration:

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The Silver Baby Cup

When I was an infant an aunt gave my mother a silver baby cup engraved with my initials, and Mother let me use it which left it banged up, teethed on, and thus all the more charming as a memento. So when my friends David and Sandy had their first kid, Casey, about 25 years ago, I had a silver cup engraved for her. Then, last year she got married and just the other day had a daughter, Hazel. And since I’d got a cup for Casey, I could hardly fail to get one for her daughter.

I remembered that I’d got Casey’s at the Tiffany department in Macy’s, so I Segwayed back there to get one for Hazel. Since I knew where I was going and exactly what I wanted, this was going to be a breeze.

Not liking to walk an inch more than I have to, I stopped at the information kiosk just inside the front door, where I got the first alarm signal. When I told them I wanted to buy a Tiffany baby cup, they didn’t seem to understand. So I explained, which didn’t help. Then a new one of ’em walked up; and even though she didn’t know what I was talking about either, led me down the escalator to a section that seemed to sell jewelry, and turned me over. She’ll help you.

Well, she also acted like she’d never heard of a silver baby cup. Am I speaking Esperanto or something? But then she picked up on “Tiffany” and said that they were across the street. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat!

So I rode back up the escalator, went outside, and rode the Segway across Union Square to a store that had “TIFFANY” emblazoned on the front. I locked the Segway up and walked inside, where I immediately felt rather underdressed in my tennis shoes, levis, and army field jacket with a pack on my back and a helmet under my left arm. But let me tell you, dressing like that sure does get you prompt service in Tiffany’s. A lady sprang at me before I’d covered the fifteen feet to the first counter.

I told her I wanted to get a silver baby cup like I’d bought some years ago at the Tiffany counter in Macy’s, and she instantly produced a brochure for me to choose from. At last I’d found someone who knew what a silver baby cup was, and better yet would sell me one.

Gasp. Don’t know why I hadn’t thought about inflation. A lot has changed in twenty-five years, particularly the prices of silver baby cups. The Tiffany selection now starts at $500.00. Why in hell was I expecting the price to still be a hundred dollars or so like the last time? I thanked her politely, muttered that I needed to budget this purchase, and fled.

Riding back home on the Segway I figured out that the reason nobody at Macy’s could understand me was not my accent but rather that I had bought the previous cup there before most of the current clerks were born. At that time, Macy’s had a Tiffany counter that would have closed when Tiffany opened its store on Union Square. I can also speculate that it is no longer fashionable for the middle class to give new-born children silver baby cups, so that’s why they didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked for a such an item.

Back home I went online and found a source for the baby cups that offered them from various makers whose names I recognized, folks like Reed & Barton, etc.

I found one from Gorham for $150, and even with the tax, engraving, and shipping I escaped for under $200. Hazel’s worth it.

Late note: Please either leave a comment here or email me to let me know whether giving silver baby cups was/is common in your area. Thanks.

Meanwhile, here’s Zuni’s side door on Market St.

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Van Gogh

No, I’m not talking about the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, nor really about Vincent himself. Rather, it’s San Francisco’s “Immersive Van Gogh” show in the cavernous former home of Fillmore West. As befits the Fillmore, there is a musical accompaniment that draws from classical music through rock and roll, pausing briefly at “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien“.  For the video, the show employs some 40 projectors to paint the walls and floor with continuously moving images from Van Gogh’s paintings. It lasts about 40 minutes and is on a loop, and when you enter you are discreetly ushered to the edge of one of the rooms and can slither out into the room to select your vantage point. Actually, even though I noticed quite a few people wandering about during the show, I didn’t realize at the time that moving to different vantages could well increase your enjoyment.

My friend Bob took me there last month; and I quite enjoyed it, at least partly because I’d made a point of not reading any news or reviews about the show so as to go in tabula rasa.

Just as well I didn’t read up ahead of time because when I look now, the reviews range from laudatory to bloodthirsty, overwhelmingly at the ends of that scale. In the former case, there’s the review in the San Francisco ChronicleInside the First Day of SF’s Trippy Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit” by Dan Gentile.

Gentile clearly enjoyed himself at the show; and his review is packed with informative detail that, now that I think about it, would not have detracted from my enjoyment if I’d read it before the show. On the other hand, there’s KQED’s Sarah Hotchkiss’ “Why Did I Gogh?” She writes well, very well, so she’s a pleasure to read. That said, don’t cross her because she’s quite capable flaying you alive. She’s a very knowledgeable purist, and she tears the show apart on technical grounds about which I can find no disagreement because she’s right on all of them. The only flaw I can pick occurs at the very end when she says she could detect no “feelings of glee” in other audience members. OK, I get a whiff of projection there. I admit that I was enjoying the show too much to closely track the reactions of other audience members, but I am absolutely clear that I’d have noticed if others were vocalizing disagreement or storming from the venue in outrage. They weren’t. And still, reading her beforehand would have seriously lessened my enjoyment.

So what it boils down to is that my bliss, and that many others in the audience, was made possible by our ignorance. Isn’t the first time this has happened to me. For damn sure I recall many occasions during which I was disappointed in performances because I knew too much in advance and allowed my expectations to smother the enjoyment. OK, and it was not just pure ignorance. Part of my enjoyment was due to my willingness to sit back and enjoy something new and different.

Of course now that I’m forgetting so much, what I know in advance is less likely to be a problem, there being so little of it. This morning I stopped to schmooze with my homeless friend down at the corner of Virginia and Mission. We were talking about the book he’s currently reading, and he observed that he was enjoying it in spite of its being written by a woman. Naturally, I pounced on that.

But then, after raving at length about Joan Didion and Annie Proulx, I could remember the titles of three novels but not the name of the woman currently at the top of my 21st Century Favorites list. Forgive me, Margaret.

Meanwhile, totally changing the subject, sometimes California out-californicates itself, as in the following case from my favorite supermarket:

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Not With a Bang

But maybe some whimpering.

Faithful readers have perhaps noticed that I haven’t posted anything new in over a month. And fellow Bridge residents are now asking how I’m doing when they see me since they’ve seen so little of me recently. And close readers who look at my Production Reports will have observed that there’s been a great falling-off in the frequency with which I’m preserving things (at least until the past week or so). Last week I had to drop out of my beloved Spanish class because I don’t seem to be able to keep up anymore and worse yet, am forgetting things faster than I’m learning them. Qué lástima. Yep, the bottom line is that I’m grinding to a stop in every way. Then again that’s not terribly surprising since I just had my eightieth birthday. What’s surprising is that I’ve made it this far since the odds sure were against it.

Genetics? Oh please, I gave my sister all the family tree stuff I’d gathered, but I’m almost certain that no male on either side of my family has lived to 80. Clean living? Don’t spew your coffee. In the first place I started smoking when I was in high school in the late fifties and didn’t stop until 2004 or so. Then I fell off the wagon in about 2014 and didn’t stop again until I returned to the city in 2017. I no longer buy packs of cigarettes, but if I see people smoking on the street, I whirl the Segway around, extend a folded dollar bill between thumb and forefinger, and ask them if they’d sell me a cigarette. I do this three or four times a week, and most folks say Yes.

Also in the less-than-clean living category, there was a twenty-five year period in mid life when I was actively gay, and gays don’t live as long as the rest of the populace. And finally, for the past fifteen years walking has been increasingly difficult and I’ve been getting around town on my Segway, which wouldn’t be quite as dangerous if I’d just stay in the bike lanes. I do that only when there’s one going to my intended destination. I’m trying to be more careful now, but I’ve fallen on a number of occasions in previous years, in the process breaking – mostly in separate falls – all my right metacarpals, both index fingers, my right ring finger, my right radius, and my left fibula. I’ve also, in my most spectacular accident, hit my head so hard that I broke my helmet and woke up some time later unable to account for how I ended up in this strange large room when the last thing I remembered was pulling out into traffic on 24th Street after leaving Whole Foods. Turned out I was in the ER at SF General Hospital (now “Zuckerberg San Francisco Hospital and Trauma Center”) where I’d been taken by a passing fire department ambulance that had plucked me off the street, unconscious.

Anyhow, living this long has been fun, mostly. My life for the past ten years has revolved around writing material for this website and preserving fruit and vegetables. But I’ve now reached an exhaustion point and have had to cut back in all my activities, spending much more time in bed and less in productive things like making jams.

So, faithful ones, you should go to the 2020 and 2021 Production Reports and pick out some things you’d like. The shipping box holds six, but I can often juggle things around and get more in. So pick your six favorites and some spares to account for outages. And do this soon because it’s clear to my fellows in this building that I’m not making as much as I used to and some of ’em still have enough brain function to figure out that they need to go ahead and get theirs while they can. On the other hand, I don’t think any of the people in this building are regular readers of my blog posts, so if you act soon, you can grab all the good stuff while I still have a bookcase full of it.

I’m not going to say that this will be my last post, but it might be. And of course when I expire my sister will kill the credit card that’s set up for automatic payments to keep the site going. Objectively speaking, there’s little on this site worth saving, but this might be a good time to look at the recipes and save any you’re interested in. You could also surf around in my posts, particularly those in the Favorites menu, which is now not nearly as long as it will be once I nerve myself up to do the scut work of adding more posts.

Somehow just writing this has made me think of some more material to write about, but who knows how long it’ll take me to do that.

Meanwhile, my old friend Al has just given me a shot he took of me in late 1975 when I was still fresh meat in San Francisco.

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Best Birthday

I haven’t made a big deal out of my birthdays since my mother announced after my twelfth birthday party that there would be no more of them. I’d aged out. And nobody leaped into the breach. Not once since then has anyone thrown a birthday party for me. Not that I would have approved of the idea had it been presented. Well, until last July.

My friend Jeff felt that since this was my 80th birthday, it deserved being celebrated; and back at the end of June he talked me into letting him set up a restaurant dinner with friends, no presents. Well hey, why not? And then he went through my address book and got me to OK a handful of people we thought would be compatible. He suggested that we eat at Catch, a Castro restaurant on Market near 17th Street. Something like twenty years ago when the restaurant was brand new it was reviewed by the critic for the Bay Area Reporter. The reviewer recounted that she’d told her father that she’d be reviewing a gay fish restaurant. Her father inquired, “Where do they get the gay fish?” See, until fairly recently any restaurant opening in the Castro was labeled “gay” even if the owners, chef, and most of the clientele were straight.

Once I’d OK’ed his invitation list, Jeff took care of everything. Well, hey, he’s an organizer and a very good one. The next thing I needed to do was show up at my apartment door on the evening of my birthday with my hair combed so he could drive us to dinner.

Catch is a great place to eat in these COVID times because the entire front wall is sliding glass windows down to about knee level, and if you have one of the tables at the wall, it feels like you’re outside. See, if you stretch your arm out, the hand is literally outside. They’ve also added parklet seating with an excellent design that blocks the wind. We got a pair of tables right in the window.

My great fear was that I’d burst into tears since it had been nearly seventy years since anybody’d thrown me a birthday party. Kept a stiff upper lip, though, and had a wonderful evening schmoozing with old friends while eating delicious food.

And yes, I meant it when I said “delicious”. Two of us opted for the fish and chips, and we agreed that the dish was superlative. I’d never eaten fish battered and fried so lightly, and it was right up there among the best I’d ever eaten. It was so good, in fact, that since then I’ve gone back twice for lunches with friends. While the fish is always wonderful, the chips are merely good; but if they rated as high as the fish, I’d kill myself eating them.

This was a memorable occasion for me. What could be better than eating delicious food in a lovely setting with dear old friends? I’m dredging my memory to come up with a happier evening.

Meanwhile, here’s a shot of the side of Nihon, a sushi place on Folsom at 14th.

Note: Folks, I seem to have forgot how to insert graphics. It was fun while it lasted.

And OK, the other side:

There’s a lot between the lines here since the restaurant is vegan. Yep, oxymoron city, sushi without fish. And in that case, why have two fine murals depicting finny friends? Don’t ask. I didn’t.

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October Post

Folks, please consider this a place holder. Life has been frantic recently, mostly in good ways, but here it is the 31st of October and I’m still working on a new post. Without getting into too much of a spoiler, I can say that until two days ago I’d never seen a young man counting out piles of hundred dollar bills that were intended for me.

Stay tuned, the rest of that story is coming soon.

Meanwhile, here’s a shot taken in the summer of 1975 by my friend Al. As you can see, he’s a gifted photographer and this photo is proof. I’ve never looked that good.

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Post Prius

Last week it swept over me that after seventeen years of loyal service, my beloved Prius had transitioned from a source of great enjoyment and help to one of great expense and inconvenience. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d needed to use it, and what I could remember was multiple occasions when it had cost me money in street sweeper tickets and various permits like the handicap placard and the area AA street parking permit. Not to omit the much greater ongoing cost of auto insurance. It was also a constant source of anxiety and stress. In 2020, somebody stole the catalytic converter right out from under it, which cost me a cool three hundred and another hundred for a prophylactic “Cat Cage” to foil thieves; and there’s the constant stress from the elaborate pas de deux with the street sweeper.

All this cost and hassle was bearable in the old days when I was commuting to work, meeting friends for dinners in other Bay Area cities, driving along rivers photographing their bridges, and taking long road trips to places back east like Texas or Los Angeles. But I’m now too old and tired to do any of those things except dinners outside San Francisco for which I can talk the group into selecting a place within Segwayable distance from BART.

Why, I asked, do I have to put up with this vampire sucking me dry? Why not sell the damn thing? I’d be without a car for the first time since 1963, but I know rich people who don’t have a car, so it’s not a question of status and certainly not of practicality, at least for San Franciscans, what with our vaunted Muni. Umm, ok we vaunt between screeches of outrage when the 14 Mission is running late.

I also have to admit that while I’m a cautious driver, I’m certainly not as skilled or alert as I used to be and that taking myself off the road is actually an act of public service.

I had no idea how one sells a car nowadays, so I offered my friend Jeff half of whatever he could get for a seventeen-year-old Prius covered with scratches and little dents from all those years parked on the street.When Jeff went searching online, I was astonished to learn that the car was worth far more than I’d imagined possible. I talked him down from his upper-middle-of-the-range asking price, and he put it on eBay for $5,900. There was a response almost immediately, and they poured in for an hour until he took the posting down after he had a couple dozen interested parties. Hmmm, perhaps shoulda added “OBO” after that price.

Early that very evening the first responder came by to look at the car, pronounced it just what he wanted, and handed me a crisp Franklin as a deposit. Before I took it out of his hand I informed him that I’d made a commitment that I had to honor to go up to San Rafael two days hence to see Sybil, who’s ninety-something and feeling her age. So I told him that after I got back I’d deliver the car to his doorstep.

He cheerfully agreed; and after I returned from San Rafael, Jeff and I took the car to him. I stood there watching in shock as the buyer counted out piles of hundred dollar bills. Never saw so much cash in my life.

How strange it was to stand there saying goodbye to by far the best car I’d ever owned, knowing that from that moment forward I’d be carless. Reminded me of that Peter DeVries novel Let Me Count the Ways in which the narrator classifies the members of his community into two groups: motorists and pedestrians like himself. I kissed it goodbye and still feel rather strange to be carless without a single regret. I keep thinking some will appear, but so far not one has.

Last kiss


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