Things Happen

Wednesday, May 11 2005

Things happen to me. It’s not me, it’s the things. Today while waiting on a street corner in a very busy part of San Francisco, a man with a yellow short sleeved, black bodied shirt asked me to take his photo. He stood stoically in the shot, but made sure to turn his good side to me each time. I think he may have been from Mongolia, or some place in Asia that breeds very rugged cowboy like people. He looked robust, like he could withstand a razor blade tornado.

He asked me to take his photo seven times. But never in a row. As I waited for my friend (who I hadn’t seen at any great length for several years) to arrive, Mr. Robust Yellow Sleeves showed up six more times after having left after each photo, leaving my area completely. And it was never a “please, can you take my photo.” It was always him just walking up, shoving the camera in my hands, pointing at the button on the camera, and stepping away from me with his left shoulder forward. Things like this happen to me nearly every time I leave the house and he could tell. He knew I’d know what to do.

I have a theory that that was his thing. His purpose in life was to rotate around that busy part of town commanding people to take his photograph. Sometimes he put the camera to his ear like it was a phone. After my friend and his girlfriend arrived, she admitted to having taken his photo a few times as well on her way to meet me and her boyfriend.

Later on that evening while walking to House of Nanking (super tasty! we let the man pick our food for us! I ate yams that didn’t make me wretch!) a man, as I passed him on the sidewalk, said Pickle. Right into my ear. Others might not think that’s one of those Things, but for me when someone says Pickle right into my ear who I’ve never met and never will again, that’s something.

And finally, on the way back to my hotel, I walked into the Apple store. I was looking for some new headphones, something easier to travel with, when a man walked up beside me and said flatly “I’m a big fan can you sign this it’s for my son.” Beside me stood the tallest man I think I’ve ever seen in real life. I couldn’t even guess – maybe he was nearly 8 feet tall. My head was at his nipples and I’m 6 feet. Shocked in more ways than one, I was about to explain that he was mistaken, but before I could do that two Apple employees came up to both of us and asked that we leave the store, they’d been closed for 20 minutes. Mr. Elevation said “I gotta run”, pushed a taxi receipt into my hand sort of urgently, and handed me a pen. I signed it. He grinned, said “Thanks Bill” and practically sprinted out the door.

At that, I decided going back to my hotel would be a good idea. It was only a block away, but my night of weird wasn’t done yet. After crossing the street to get to my hotel a naked black guy ran down the street yelling “THIS IS AMERICA. THIS IS AMERICA. YOU LIVE IN AMERICA” and following the black guy was a very obese woman carrying his clothing, trying her best to keep up, and yelling “GET YOUR DAMN PANTS ON CHUCKY. CHUCKY! YOUR PANTS”.

Surely tomorrow will be normal.

And yes, this all happened tonight. I have witnesses to half, but you have to trust me on Mr. and Mrs. Naked and Mr. Elevation. And no, I don’t think he thought I was Bill Gates. I bear no resemblance. I’d be more puzzled about which Bill he thought I was if I wasn’t more puzzled about Mr. and Mrs. Naked.

Yes. I’m on the edge of the Tenderloin, or so I’m told. And all I know about that is that Things Happen in the Tenderloin. I’m pretty sure I know what that means.