“On Tuesday we’ll be going to Grandma’s and you’ll get to stay with her for a whole week and won’t that be fun,” the young dad on Church Street said and it was easy to guess who it would be more fun for. He spoke in the fake-child voice that people use with their five-year olds or their deaf pets. His little girl was whining about something. I’d seen the flipside of this tableau moments earlier on my street; one of the handsome dads pulling his little daughter on a four-wheeled scooter, the smile on his face the product of a goofy joy. Their verbal exchange seemed no less at dual purposes, but that was its charm, that it would not be tarnished by an agenda or a power play.
My morning had an agenda: Art experience. To be at the de Young by 10:45 to meet E for a viewing of Dutch masters. Come see my etchings.
Walking, walking, on the sunny side of the street. Oh Sunday morning feeling on a Saturday; what could be better, most everybody but the daddies indoors, maybe sleeping in. Humdrum has lost its electorate. Not that I’m a misanthrope, please understand but in this ethereal, art-sensitive orbit, human association is an asteroid that causes dangerous wobble, creating disharmony in the spheres, a hurtling object which might even crash into you, as the Medusa in the jeep did turning left onto Cesar Chavez. People do it all the time, make that anticipatory turn, but then they stop and let the biped in the crosswalk cross, but not her; she barreled through and I had to dodge the feral bumper. I was so startled that the extremely dirty look I would have given her was only a smudge of what it might have been, but she wasn’t looking at me anyway. She stared ahead, if not Medusa, one of her stone-faced victims.
The J-Church was 14 minutes from arriving, which meant I could have walked all the way to Dolores Park, but I didn’t, I waited at 24th, contemplating the pigeon-splattered awning of Happy Donuts wondering wherein arises the essential happiness of the donut. Is it its circularity, or it inner hollowness? There was a guy on the corner, talking to himself in what has become the new normal. Girl with Peal Earring, meet Man with Blue Tooth. Huh? Given how lousy my hearing is, it says something that I easily could follow his side of the conversation which, appropriately, was about dental matters, cavities, amalgams, drilling. “Unbelievable,” was the word he hung in every third pause like tinsel. The streetcar’s arrival was not a signal to cut off the conversation, which had evolved into a discussion of cigarettes at 99 cents a pack in the carton, and the chairs he’d sell to his auditor at the price he got them originally. He was not out to make money. Next week, I said to him as he yakked his way past me onto the streetcar, you’re going to Grandma’s. He didn’t hear me.
The wait for the N-Judah (12 minutes) provided the second Art experience of the journey. (Dad pulling scooter was number one.) Here on the corner of Duboce, embedded into the sidewalk and spraypainted a dull gold are 5 chairs of distinctive personalities, each knowable by the glutei maximi. I lift my metaphorical glass to the witty artist. In a city where so many bed outdoors, why not a comfortable chair or two? I noticed that nobody else availed themselves of these comforts, preferring the meager slab at the bus shelter. The guy pushing the grocery cart behind my throne was not talking on a Blue Tooth. His monologue unraveled in a respectful, indecipherable mumble. The cart cut a wide swath of stale beer smell through the air.
People looked at me, a bit suspiciously. If I am sitting in this chair, am I an Art experience? I thought so. #3.
All I needed was a donut and I could have died happy on that chair, waiting for the N-Judah.