MAY 24, 2009


It's been a quiet week on the Island, our hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Mark Twain's memorable lines that the coldest winter he ever suffered through was a summer in San Francisco seemed to come through in spades with record low temps following the heat wave we had here. Gulls flying inland indicated a spate of fowl weather out there and we have reports of unseasonable rain showers in normally arid Bishop far to the east of here.

The fava beans are all about five feet tall with the pole beans following up and the dahlias begining to really burgeon down there by the Old Fence. The tree squirrels have all been scampering by to examine the status of the late sunflowers and you can see them marking down in their account books just when will be the most likely month to conduct a raid of particularly devastating proportions.

With the cooling temps comes cooling ardor, and all the guys are creeping out under their various rocks and hiding places to restock their beer and frozen pizza supplies, hoping that the Mating Rituals of Spring have safely passed. The leggy Joanne has run off with her Poet to Glen Ellen, so the Editor has thrown open his office door again to harangue the indolent copyboys and columnists in relative safety once more.

"Chad! Chad! I want that damn jukebox issue put to bed pronto! Chad! Where is the boy keeping himself? Who has the Special Election Analysis? Where the hell is Denby? I want that music review on my desk by morning!"

So it goes in the offices at Island Life.

Down at the Old Same Place Bar, Suzie has been serving up the Gaelic coffees and hot toddies like it was still winter around here. Inge from the travel agency came in and Javier could not stop staring at her like she was a creature from another planet. Which she might as well have been in so far as Javier was concerned, as she was Norwegian, Lutheran, platinum blonde, well endowed with strikingly good looks and securely well employed.

None of which Javier was and would ever be. For he was Latin, Catholic, dark, and singularly underemployed with famously vile security attached only to his facility and skill with a mop and a broom. As it has been said: no money, no Honey.

Her legs went from the ground up to some fantastic place under an impossibly short skirt.

It may be mentioned that he entirely forgot, for the moment, the lovely Leona of San Leandro who had so ferociously seized his affections only a short while ago. Which only goes to show you the nature of the male species. They are like dogs; they would hump a tree if they could.

Brad, who worked for Mr. Howitzer's property management firm came in and immediately began hitting on her. He was moneyed, employed by money, and secure in his position. Property, in the form of land and structures upon it, has become the New Gold in California. Even here on the Island. Even during the current Meltdown. Brad glittered and wore a tie even after work.

She turned to regard him with heavy lidded eyes which had seen much and which offered no compassion.

"You remind me of certain impresarios working for the porn industry," she said.

He failed to understand the import of this and protested that he was into property management. Real estate, in other words. He had certain properties he was sure she would like to see.

"When I think of your penis I imagine a toad oozing puss from a thousand poisonous warts and I begin to feel nauseous," she said. "In fact, I think I am going to throw up in your lap, which might ruin your entire evening. Sorry."

Brad, stupidly imagining that power and prestige protected him from certain experiences failed to take note of the warning. He laughed it off. Nobody in this bar had the pull he had. His pull came from the notorious Umbsen family of San Francisco. He was a man used to getting his own way and full of the belief that what he owned was well deserved because of native ability and capacity.

That's when she did throw up right there into his lap.

This event caused a number of things to happen. After Brad had been carted off in a cab and several solicitous patrons shunted aside and all the brough-haha died down, the unsteady Inga asked Javier to take her home.

Seems she had swallowed three or four too many stingers that evening. A stinger is composed of particularly aromatic alcohol spirits and if ever anyone throws up in your lap after drinking a few of those, you definitely will remember the event for a very long time.

Javier, always the gentleman (dammit!), brought her home and tucked her in, trying not to look down there (she wore pink, for your information).

"You are rather sweet," she said. "I predict you will find someone to really blow your mind and everything else besides. Gawd this entire room is spinning right now . . ."!

Javier got out of there as best he could and as soon as he could. He did not want to have to spend the night shoveling vomit into a trashcan. Things were bad enough as it was.

The heavy leaden fog lay upon the sky and the streetlights sent cones of desperation down upon the beaten streets. Javier paused with his collar turned up to the edges of his cap as he walked down the way to his rented apartment. Somewhere a siren wailed a lost call for assistance.

Meanwhile, Suzie and Dawn finished cleaning up the mess left behind. Just another weekend night. From far across the estuary the long wail of the throughpassing train came ululating over the water as the engine chugged through the Jack London waterfront to places unknown.

And in the Old Same Place Bar, Suzie cracked open her anthropology textbook, for in the City that knows how to keep its secrets sits one bartender still pondering Life's Persistent Questions.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.