Mirror Episodes

Cali Kiss
Another Cali Kiss – thanks for finding these pics, Chris!

Greetings,

Not long ago I ran into a friend who is now living on the street. I will call him Dean. We agreed to get together later in the week and I hoped I could think of something to help him out. A day before our meeting I went to a local donut shop where a man in the parking lot was staring intently through donut shop window. It occurred to me that he was scrutinizing the premises with an unusual amount of care but I had pretty much forgotten about him by the time I was ordering coffee. Shop proprietress stayed deep in conversation with another patron while she poured my drink. “You are so good-looking.” she was telling him. “Your eyes are so green.. look at how handsome you are..  people look at you because you are so handsome… ” Customer was proffering little response and I had the opportunity to observe him from behind. His skin and clothing indicated that he was living a pretty rough existence. Suddenly he turned, our eyes met, we both smiled. Indeed, he had a very magnetic face but his ruined teeth told a story of their own – lots of hard years. He and I sat at separate tables while proprietress continued pep talk.

Another customer entered, ordered something, placed himself near me. For some reason his very aura set me on edge so I laser-focused attention on notepad in front of me without once looking at him. Green-eyed guy left and the remaining man began asking proprietress questions about him. Within a few sentences it became clear that remaining man was completely fixated on the green-eyed man. I didn’t even need to glance at him to realize that he was also the person who had been staring into the shop from the parking lot. Proprietress seemed disconcerted by the barrage of questions and wasn’t saying much, quite unusual for her.

“Was that guy talking about me?” remaining man finally blurted, unable to contain himself. “If he said I was looking at him then he is crazy. That guy is crazy!”

Pieces fell into place. Remaining guy had been doing everything possible to attract the attention of green-eyed man and now he was humiliating himself even more as he tried to pretend the opposite. He reminded me of countless men I’ve encountered at strip clubs who pretend to watch sports in a topless bar, turn their backs to the stage, pretend their friends dragged them in the joint, feign disdain for the dancers, pretend they came to a nude club for the food, pretend this, pretend that, maybe fooling themselves (I doubt it) but nobody else.

I should mention here that I live in an area well known for availability of male prostitutes who service men for money or drugs. Second customer had probably been hoping to get lucky if he wished hard enough.

Fast forward to the next day…   Dean and I met for coffee as scheduled. At Starbucks Dean touchingly offered to pay the bill but of course I refused. Over conversation it became apparent that he had become quite resigned to his circumstances, no longer really trying to get off the street. Out the corner of my eye I noticed a man staring fixedly at our table, imploring Dean to look at him. Without making mention of it Dean simply stood up, turned his chair around so his back faced the man, and continued talking with me. The staring man would not give it a rest, causing my hackles to rise. I could see that Dean felt eyeballs boring into his back. Eventually my friend just broke. Our coffee date had started on a cheerful note but now Dean was unreservedly displaying odd behavior which caught the attention of everyone nearby, almost like he was manifesting the mindset: “OK, if you’re going to stare at me like I’m not human then I will really give you something to stare at.” I tried to get him to calm down – no luck. He was acting like the stereotypical “crazy homeless guy” that everyone in large urban areas has encountered. Finally I left, feeling heartsick and helpless, because Dean was beginning to direct his animosity toward me. We have not seen each other since.

Last summer I made mention of a man at the grocery store filming me like I was an animal at the zoo. The unattractive man (I speak boldly because he made himself unattractive) at the donut shop and the creep at Starbucks were behaving in the same manner, so eager for acknowledgement that they fell all over themselves like slobbering idiots. Any of those three people could have observed us without attracting our attention but it was our attention that they so desperately craved. Where am I going with this? I don’t know. Just felt like getting it off my chest. Green-eyed man and I will likely continue to ignore fools but I worry about Dean. For the record, I no longer wear crop tops in public (crux of grocery store episode. ) All of us live in the Land of Fruits and Nuts (AKA California) and I wish people would at least loosely respect that old adage: “It’s not polite to stare.”

Saw great piece of street art last weekend (top pic) and it strikes me as a fitting amalgamation of the good and bad out here in Cali. Check out the license plate on that vehicle.

 

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Song playing in head.. “Welcome to the Hotel California..

 

6 thoughts on “Mirror Episodes”

  1. So again we share observations ,and experience if similar nature . It’s so poor here . I have homeless friend who has very successful family ,but for reasons I ascertain ,but cannot pin down is on the street . Good looking ,fit ,poor soul ,now with bad teeth too ! One brother on Broadway,another big cosmetic rep . How can they allow his fate ! I take him to donut shops ,when I can . He always filled with sincere good cheer for me ,and asks for nothing ! Life is so strange . Do we blame circumstances,or it’s victims ? Funny ,one time big fat creep who looked like giant walking bowling pin,in baseball cap approached me outside of fast food place ; ” Your kind of cute ” webble wobble said to me ” Kinda ?’ ” ,” Move on I said “. Coast to coast we sure have them ! Lol. I do try to help people in a bad way like ” Dean “. It’s good Karma as I receive many blessings . But one must have discernment too. I have learned that the hard way. I’m sure you have developed that wisdom too Are we not always on lone spontaneous urban adventures ? Is this the proverbial ” life in the fast lane !”. Are we stuck in the painting ,Night Owls 1942 ? If so please be there too ! 😎

    1. Hi Apollo,

      I love Night Owls – one of my favorite paintings along with Night Cafe. First became acquainted with Night Cafe when I saw it hanging in a gallery next to one of my favorite donut shops. Staring at the painting through the window I immediately thought: “I’ve been there.” The tableau reminded me of an old speakeasy (now a tavern) called the Townhouse in Venice, California. Only much later did I learn that Night Cafe had been painted in 1888 by none other than Vincent Van Gogh himself. That is true power – a painting so evocative that it transcends centuries, makes you feel like you “know” it. That painting has touched me like nothing else, become true inspiration that will never depart my soul. What a tragic life Van Gogh had though! I highly recommend this amazing tribute by Leonard Nimoy if you haven’t seen it already.

      Know what you mean about needing to be careful when trying to help people. My friend Dean can become very irrational and combative. So sad – wish I could do more. It is very kind of you to try and help your friend. Years ago I met an elderly woman who visited her husband every day at his assisted care facility. She could no longer care for him at home due to the advanced state of his dementia. One day in greeting I said: “Hello, how are you today?” when I saw her. She smiled, not unpleasantly, sort of shrugged and said: “We do what we can.” Those words – the way she spoke them – have always stuck with me.

      Hope you are well, Apollo, and that your move is going smoothly.

      XOXO

  2. Dear Tanya,

    I only have an opportunity for a quick comment, but this is some of the most enjoyable writing you have shared. Full of the small, precise observational details that I’ve greatly appreciate in your world view and written narratives (and what I first got turned on to with the Beat writers–you are a 21st C heir of that with your own voice and perspective.)

    Enough characters for a one-act play:

    Shop Proprietess
    Green-eyed Guy
    Remaining Guy (best movie cast credit name ever)
    Starbucks Dean
    Unattractive Man

    The pacing was great for such a story: fast and slow and fast. Do you talk like this when you are relating stories in person? I felt like I was on the scene watching this weird, ordinary, extraordinary day in the life unfold.

    My partner and I have been building small micro-homes for the homeless over the last couple years. It’s kind of become a main focus for me which has brought me into contact with a wide range of folks with some real stories to tell.

    I’m all ears for them, but I must say I enjoy the way you spin a tale. Looking forward to more….

    Thank you, Tanya

    Mingori

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Mingori. Years ago when I first started posting thoughts on my website one of my friends said: “No one wants to hear about any of that.” His words were so harsh and critical that they still ring in my ears. Later I think he tried to apologize by sending some ideas that I could write about but I never again discussed the issue with him. I just sorta write when I feel like writing, secure in the knowledge that no one has to read my words if they don’t feel like it. Lol.. it’s not like being locked in a jail cell with a TV playing outside the iron bars that none of the detainees can turn off (DUI arrest 2010.) I digress.. thank you, Mingori for encouraging me to write. Well, I write all the time and post a bit of it here and it means a lot to me that you enjoy it.

      And now that you mention it “Remaining Guy” really would be the best movie cast credit name ever. As my fingers flew across the keyboard I was trying to identify him with an appellation other than “idiot” or “fool”. Even in my anger I know I’ve played the fool many a time too.

      For the record Shop Proprietress could fill an entire movie by herself. Yelp reviews for her establishment actually contain references to her misguided jokes and unfortunate comments. My take on her is that she is a highly intelligent woman who tries really hard to relate to the masses but simply can’t. Her brain just goes too fast.

      You work on micro houses? That is awesome! Just saw a GoFundMe newsletter for a group that does the same for homeless veterans. I applaud your efforts. Very cool!

      XOXO

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