“Let’s just stop here and admire that sucker.”
Marie and I were in the midst of standing under a single umbrella on the southwest corner of Mason and Sacramento looking up at the façade of The Mark Hopkins Hotel. It was raining, but not enough to ruin our good time. In fact, we were sort of enjoying it, slouched there on the corner across from the Fairmont and next to that sea-green laurel-leaf gate of The Flood Mansion with its scarred cinder walls. Maybe it was the stormy weather currently passing through town, but there wasn’t a tourist in sight — a rare thing around these parts.
“It is rather majestic, that son of a bitch, ain’t it? All mopey and sandy-stoned and runny windows.”
This was Marie’s unique way of commenting on architecture.
“Sure. When it gets to tinging all soft-boiled yolk and then turns to salmon in them crepuscular tones, well, it really is not nothing.”
“These pluvial episodes of beatitude are roughly ours to share, still. Let’s…just…stand here.”
We stood beneath the umbrella’s berth of dry, chewing gum, holding hands, making up reasons in our heads why things would stay this way, in the pull of infatuation’s mood.
I was thinking about The Nob Hill Street Cuts: those thin strips between the buildings of the blocks steeply whizzing down from the top of Nob Hill that gave off gorgeous views of San Francisco’s better parts. We were close to the Sacramento one that ran all the way down through Chinatown and into Downtown’s charismatic skyscrapers and then tailed off into The Embarcadero Center’s rear end with an oblong slice of the Bay Bridge presiding over it all. The downpour was really making the gutters run. It was fun watching the cars battling to rise up from the stream.
“Let’s get ourselves to a table at The Mark’s top.”
“With the martinis to go with it? Olive bet better do just that.”
“Moseying doesn’t become us. Let’s walk bowlegged all the way there.”
I raised the umbrella’s pole high, ribs fully extended, and we kept our heads close beneath our shared canopy and fled down Mason with saffron and Gila-monster venom behind our wiles, our boots splashing across the pavement as The Fairmont valets came and went from the driveway across the street; and all the taxis lined up on the curb; and a concrete Tony Bennett swooned from his spot on the lawn.
“Is he shaving or crooning into a mic?”
“Not rightly sure, Miss. But he looks good over there, don’t he?”
The light at California’s a rough one, and we got suckered by a damn cable car headed west, and so stood there waiting and waiting for that intolerable light to change. Marie huffed and grumbled about our, “damndable luck.” I was more forgiving of the situation, as I knew we could cross to the east against the light with little trouble, and then take in the view of that California Cut there. We crossed over the where the mailboxes crouch and the hotel goers unfurl their maps and point in excess directions.
“Now, will you look at that? Promptly, it’s a fitting scope, huh?”
Marie just hunched her shoulders and spit into the rain’s latest job.
The California Cut there is a bit touristy, well with the usual classic sights and scenes and the Bay Bridge out there to soak in too, but I still find it quite agreeable. There’s a play of distance; all The Cuts have this to some degree; but here the length to The Ferry Building seems to follow its own logic, and it’s like you just faint into it, almost. The Cable Car tracks dive off, slipping down the slope, as the traffic skids along and through to the Market-bound streets. People trudge up the hill from Chinatown, stopping at each block for a reprieve from the grunt work. And you can see where Tadich Grill is down there serving up the best cioppino this side of anywhere, and down to Market where there’s a pinch of the scarlet-brick 1916 Landmark Building (where the Southern Pacific Railroad called home for 80 years) seemingly squeezed between the bridge and the thin rectangle of downhill-streaming facades, and past there to where the seagulls swarm alongside the pigeons for bayside scraps. Even on a rainy afternoon, it was still holding its charm. Rivulets of rain flooded the mid-street tracks and bubbled over onto the roadway.
“It’s really coming down.”
“Insert another cliché here.”
“Chickens and frogs.”
This caught her between a wince and a laugh. Then she growled, “That’ll do.” And then, “Specifically, daaaarling.”
We clasped our fingerless-glove hands as the light finally flashed a green walk signal, and — after disposing of our gum in a trash bin like good citizens — we trotted off across to where The Mark Hopkins was dripping wet and waiting for us.
Twenty stories up, The Top of The Mark was just opening its doors to imbibing patrons and strangers and shifty malingerers like us. A wispy bread-slice of a man greeted us at the door, just as he was in the apparently slow and artful process of opening it for the evening. He greeted us with a slight whimper and a lean smile. There was something gruesome yet delightful about this fellow, like a thrashed rake that’s just been shined.
“A window with a pluvial view for two, please.”
“You caught me at my opening, it seems. Well, well, well. Let’s just see what I can do for you foul-weather early-evening sojourners about a table.”
He sat us as promptly as you’d expect such a dapper and fastidiousness individual to do, with the gangly motions of a grasshopper made of jelly. We slid into our seats at a small, tidy table by the east windows. The drizzly horizon was palatable as could be. Everything was mush just up above the building tops: steamy whirls of mauve shot with black streamers, shoddy and sappy and somnolent…just like us.
Soon the menus arrived. We didn’t need them, of course. The gangly grasshopper towered above us, hands wrapped around his back, a whimsical smile plastered on his stolid mug. This man’s shadow must have been thin as a movie poster.
“That’ll be two gin martinis, please. Ice-cold. Straight up. Plenty of olives.”
“And for the gentleman?”
This grasshopper was cracking wise on me. I liked it.
“I’m still in mid-decision. Check back with me after she’s downed hers.”
And he was off to the bar to procure the lady’s order, about as pretentious as a machinegun.
Marie was casting her gaze over the thick expanse of murky clouds huddled over our fair city. She has this thing she does with her eyes that makes them spin and almost dance around in there, like a cartoon character who’s just been knocked over the noggin.
“Lady. You’re doing it again.”
“Take your eyes off my eyes and put ’em on somewheres else, will you?”
“Sure. I got this grand view to scope here. Look at all them rainclouds. I can’t even see the bridge but for the lights.”
She guffawed in a way that there is really no name for other than guffaw. “That makes sense.” She was growing bored of my insights.
Our drinks arrived, both placed in front of her by that joker of a grasshopper. I slowly slid one over to myself. Marie mildly rebuked me, just to show off for the waiter, which made him laugh, and then, thankfully, depart.
“To larceny without the grandness of theft!”
We clinked glasses. The room was quiet as could be. Only the sound of shuffling bar staff, and the chime and ping of silverware, and some chairs being moved. It was the best we could hope for, and we sat their enjoying it for as long as we could.
Eventually I piped up: “Your body sees alcohol as a toxin; it tries to excrete it as expediently as possible. That’s why your trips to the commode increase with each drink’s finishing.”
“Thanks for ruining my cocktail hour.” Marie took a deep swallow of her beverage, even engaging an olive in the process.
“Brave of you, to take in this info and keep tippling.”
“If nothing else, I’ve always been quite courageous. You know, you do, don’t you?”
“Certainly, I don’t say.”
A few tourists barged in with the recklessness of escaped show horses, making a minor ruckus and misusing a few verbs. Our gelatinous grasshopper put on an eager-to-please act, displaying much courteous ambivalence to their arrival, and seated them, thankfully, on the other side of the room from us. The eastern view is a grand one, but I was sure they’d somehow ruin it.
“I’m starting to feel down-to-earth again. This is tops.”
Marie frown-scowled at me. “Impromptu but improper, again.”
“Yup. We are but scones forever awaiting butter.”
I made her toast me again on that one. It was worth a toast. She obliged, though without much vigor.
The martini was dry and cold and olive-packed and delightful. It was better going down than any great notion I’d ever get to having about it. There are certain ways of being alive that defy description, ones you can’t even look back at and ever classify properly. They just happen. There’s nothing you can do about it. And then they’re gone. In my book, those are the ones to live for.
“Hey!” Marie barked at me out of that proverbial nowhere she seems to exist in.
“You wanna try some crab deviled eggs? I hear the crab makes them even more venial.”
“Well, you know me, I’ll try anything a dozen times. Besides, I haven’t sinned enough today yet. Let’s do it.”
We waved the thin man over to our table, and he nodded in agreement with our daring order. We raised our glasses to our newfound expectations.
“People around here, they all deserve to try some of these delights. Let them all eat crab deviled eggs.”
“How very socialist of you, lady.”
“I’m a socialite, not a socialist. Besides, I’ve never found the common good to be that…well, good. I was on food stamps a few years back, you know? Back when I was wearing those suicide badges on my wrists.”
“What’s common is usually idiocy masquerading as thoughtfulness. What we all need is a good kick in the pants to get us paying attention to the exorbitantly rich morons in power who are stealing this so-called common good from us at every turn. We all deserve more, we just don’t have the gumption to get us up and cracking at taking it. All this, from sea to g.d. shining sea, it all belongs to all of us, together.”
“Get the guillotines out boys. This is going to be an upper-crust slaughtering.”
“Eat the rich!”
“They should be in a ditch!”
We clanked what was left in our glasses together. Then, our fancy deviled crab eggs arrived.
They looked gorgeous on the plate, all decked out with rosemary and sprigs of parsley, the batter like frosting squeezed through a cornet, the whites bright and smooth. I was glad of our spontaneous splurge.
“But lo, we are only lowly socialites.”
“What’re you gunna do?”
They were beyond delicious. I savored every tiny bite.
“This…it’s such a…well…”
“It’s such a goddamn miraculous feeling, isn’t it?”
“Uh huh. Being up here so high and above it all. With the rain and everything. Out of the cold and into the warm. Nothing quite like it, that feeling: defrosting and getting all toasty. The buildings going hazy in the distance. These martinis. These beautiful crabby eggs. I’m glad I can be here to enjoy this…with you.”
“And you. Too.”
I swiped a finger across an eyebrow and blinked a few times, and then rolled my shoulders and cracked my neck, and went on basically adjusting and readjusting every nook and cranny of my person and clothing until I was close to as comfortable as I ever get in public.
“You really can move every muscle there, can’t you?”
“I can’t help it. I’m a born fidgeter.”
After devotionally finishing off the eggs and what remained of our martinis, we put on some longer looks and window-shopped The City’s rue-laden landscape. It was scoured to a frigid hostility, crowded with condo towers and other terrible architectural monstrosities, but still resilient as could be with the old guard of art-deco masterpieces standing strong just below the skyline. We are forever who we claim to be, at least to ourselves, and The City was only as lost as we deemed it. Or maybe something’s just a tad askew with my brains.
“Let’s do something constructive with what’s left of the day. A chancy change of scenery, maybe.”
“A bitters-heavy Manhattan at The Big Four?”
We summoned Mr. Rangy Grasshopper one last time for the check. He brought it as prompt as an alarm, and, after much finagling about who would pay for what, we decided that I would foot the bill and she would let me leave the tip. I don’t know how I keep getting suckered into these things, but there’s this way she has of putting things while she gets this look on her that I just can’t say no to.
All looks aside, we were soon off and descending with much celerity in one of The Mark Hopkin’s fastest elevators. It didn’t stop once all the way down. It was a fine flight to ground level.
The weather had dropped its guard, and a skosh of sun evened the surroundings with a classy glint. We skimmed along the hotel’s brick driveway and plopped onto the sidewalk facing due south, taking in the Mason Cut from California’s southeast corner. Everything was shimmering.
“Geez, that’s an eyeful, ain’t it?”
I felt her fingers intertwine with mine, and we stood there, gloveless, admiring the deeper distance of closer perceptions. The gray was momentarily lifting, just for us; and we could catch a glimpse of Market and the freeway beyond, with the newly opened but still-empty 6X6 Mall’s windowed façade blinking awake. I focused and refocused in the leaf-and-branch-fractured light, darting from Harry Denton’s star to Summer Place’s crumbling sign to bay and bow windows to ornamented rooflines to a sturdy belvedere, and finally landed on a rusty rooftop water tower.
“The Taylor Cut is better. Let’s book on down there and check it for a pulse.”
A chill wiggled its way through us as we made our way down California; across the crosswalk and under the always-present scaffolding on the opposite corner; past the cavernous Crocker Garage, as the magnolias stretched out on the perfectly manicured lawn of The Flood Mansion across the street; and made our way up to the dead-ivy-scarred bricks of The Big Four Hotel, a few last copper leaves still hanging on to the gnarled vines by their knuckles. To the north, Huntington Park was deserted — its statues and benches dripping, its fountains filled with rain. And Grace Cathedral was doing its best Singing in the Rain imitation as its bells rang out a slow and somber Amazing Grace for the weary to keep time to.
Marie let out a trickling puff of see-able breath: “Let’s not rush this, whatever ‘this’ is going to end up being.”
“Agreed. Wretches like us, let’s you and I splash around here for more than a snap’s lasting.”
Then, there it was, in all its washed glory — between the perpendicularly parked cars lining the street’s west side, all 90° from the curb; and the sidewalk’s rapid declination — as we marveled and awed without an ooh behind the traffic guardrail from the top of Taylor where it meets California in a fender-scraping jolt: The Taylor Cut.
“Ah. Look. It’s Monty’s place…” Marie sighed with a nostalgic tinge.
“The Clift. I miss the old Redwood Room sometimes.”
“As do I.”
There were some crows, steady and brilliantly chatoyant, passing the calm on the power lines as cars zoomed and whooshed by on Pine. All the block’s bay windows were in fine form, resplendent even. The rain’s afterglow was getting all over the place. We didn’t mind it a damn bit.
“Those sidewalk trees are really hanging in there. They should get medals for making it through the deluge.”
“Them some of the damndest finest London planes ever seen.”
“Better than van Gogh’s…and all of those that line The Champs Élysées.”
Way back in the scenery were the hills of Bernal Heights, always so bucolic and serene, as if there were goats being herded and pipes smoked and some wild-haired eccentric tuning a piano as a lazy crowd gathered to hear him play from the hilltops. My eyes goaded the terrain for familiar sights. High above all the lesser structures of The Tenderloin, The Hilton’s 46-story Brutalist tower rose to a bright apex as the top-story Cityscape Lounge beamed yellow from its giant windows. There was always a party going on up there. I’ve never dared to join, but one of these days I might venture over to take a peek at the view. It must really be something.
“We’re destined for finer inclement circumstances.”
“Sure. And a Manhattan, or five.”
“Spenders and drifters like us.”
“People in the thin of it. Deliberate and determined. Checking out these blocky strips of sight.”
Steam was rising up and slipping through the slots of a manhole cover in the street, the angelic wisps of foggy air tinging our shivering ways with bits of sappy nostalgia. We trotted over to the west, just above the guardrail and the parked cars, and ran our eyes all over the concrete steps carved into the sidewalk there as they trailed off downhill in an unbelievably long and slightly crooked union — the strange, cushion-seated nooks in the protruding windows of the Masonic Temple’s white sleek marble walls overhanging from above.
“Being with you is almost better than the best of being alone, sometimes.”
“Being alone together. Sure. It’s ‘say farewell to your worrying kind’ time.”
Then, as if the sky’s mainline had sprouted a massive leak, a drenching ensued, with all the rapid rattling plops and poundings of torrential rage. My umbrella sprung to life, and we huddled close under it, trying to keep from getting our personal effects soaked. It was like popcorn and bubble wrap under there for a bit as we watched the runnels and rapids flow down the gutters towards where Market Street cut a diagonal into The City’s grid. Marie wrapped herself around me in that way she has that’s like every fiber of her being is on loan to my lean. Our overcoats clinging and boots clubbing together, not much else to have or hold except each other, it was a grand way to be going about an evening.
But of course, about a minute later, the sun returned for an encore appearance and the sky’s leak was apparently repaired. All was holy and glum again. The end of a watermelon, cut at a perfect horizontal, fresh and ripe, was stuck in the top opening of a public garbage receptacle. The rain had might the green and red shine a bit, and I thought for some reason that it might taste like a piece of hard candy, but dared not venture a bite. Marie squeezed her way against me, wriggling in my arms like a purring cat.
“This rain’s got to make up its mind.”
“Well, I don’t mind it really. The weather in this city: it comes. It goes. Just like anything else in San Francisco does.”
“Let’s get to some going of our own. I’m craving bitters.”
“You bitter bit you are.”
We trickled and loafed our way over to those bronze-handled entrance doors of The Hotel Huntington’s Big Four bar, their glossy rectangular windows frosted with the bar’s name and logo. The Huntington’s windows were all closed against the precipitation, but I still appreciated the way they opened (when they did) upwards and out instead of just up or across. It was an old-fashion style that went well with the bricks and the vines and those fantastic letters on the roof that spelled out the hotel’s name and lit up at night to look so austere against the incoming tender drifts of the fog’s wispy tendrils. Do yourself a favor and go to the corner of Pine and Mason some tenebrous night when the fog’s doing its best rolling, and feast your eyes on them up there to the northwest; it’s quite a lovely thing to behold.
Suavely and with much soigné, I swung the heavy door out of its current closed position and bade Marie to enter with a dramatic arms-out, bowed gesture. She took her cue with histrionic dismay and an uncaring flip of her hair.
“I hope the piano guy’s plying his stuff tonight.”
“That’d be just imperfect.”
We both saluted the portraits of the whiskered silver barons in the entranceway, and bounded up the steps to the lounge where, to our repurposed delight, the piano player was tinkling Those Were the Days. The bar had a few empty seats at the south end, so we went over and sat at them.
Marie perked up, a bit: “Them sure were the days, weren’t they?”
“I liked it better when Archie and Edith did it.”
“Different song, Bozo.”
A couple orchids in a small vase had been placed in front of us, and soon there were cocktail napkins there too.
“So where did you two trek in from in the calamitous weather we’re having?”
Marie, never one to be caught off guard, replied, “We’ve made the pilgrimage all the way from The Top of the Mark.”
“We’re real troopers this evening,” I added, and tapped a few fingers on the shiny gold bar top. “It seems they’ve taken our only sunshine away for the day. Ready for redemption and recovery, sir.”
“At your service.” He winked, but I wasn’t sure who it was directed at. It was like a wince or a sudden tic rippling the surface of his face. He was stooped and deliberate, his tidy bald head matte and clean above inquisitive eyebrows over the sort of kind eyes that just make you feel at home — a man of decent humor and composure. What they used to call a Sport or a Good Egg. Even the wrinkles ingrained in his creased face seemed soft and gentle. “What are we in the mood for imbibing currently?”
Marie didn’t hesitate: “Manhattans. Two. Old Overholt Rye. Heavy on the bitters. Two cherries each, Luxardo Maraschino if you got ’em. And not too light on the vermouth, please.” She rolled it off as if reciting a favorite passage from The Long Goodbye.
“I will return momentarily with the said beverages.”
Marie guided her looks over to my peripheral vicinity. “Let’s peel off these coats and stay a while. Show off that tie and jacket combination you’re braving these elements with.”
“Sure. And let’s have a peep at that red-carpet gown.”
We hung our coats up on a nearby rack, sat on our green vinyl stools, and sank into the atmosphere. All the gilded pictures of trains and horses and drawings of ancient fat cats smoking cigars on the walls; the polished wood of the fluted Ionic columns and fanciful architrave carved in the bar’s back shelves; the plush booths and the tables-for-two whose chairs matched the vinyl of the stools; and just around the corner where the piano player was, that magnificent fire place with its oak-framed mirror behind the statue of the settler upon his galloping horse. We were thrown back to plainer, dust-caked, and more refined times, and when our drinks came we took our first sip without lifting them.
After an extremely comfortable silence, Marie got around to some chatter: “Did you hear the one about the guy with no fingertips? He couldn’t feel anything.”
“You really send me, sometimes, you do.”
“I miss certain sounds, or the way certain things sounded…used to sound…to me. Lightly and with less emphasis on the point. Just a hankering of…like, remember being a teenager? Going to places that don’t exist anymore? And the Drive-Ins had those accordion-like fulcrum arms of movie speakers that reached into the front window of your car. There’s nowhere to do that now. That particular sound will never happen like it once always did.”
“My phone, it just don’t ring like it used to.”
The cordial and careful bartender swung back by to check on our spirits.
“How’s the weather down here, folks?”
“It’s moderately flattering, thank you, sir.”
He wiped the bar top with a cloth napkin, fixed his face into a solemn grin, and peered at some imaginary spot over our heads.
“There is little to no wind in the Fairmont’s flags right now. Not even a flutter in ’em for the most. A rare occasion. Always makes me feel like someone upstairs is telling me, ‘All’s well. No need to worry. Soon, when the weather warms up and the time changes for the later, you’ll get back to winning again. I promise.’” He rolled up a sleeve and checked his watch. “I know. Sort of long winded.”
I raised my glass. “Not at all, sir. Not one bit. To whatever comforts. To whatever gives instead of takes.”
Marie joined me, and that kindly bartender clinked an imaginary glass to ours, whispering, “By the gracelessness of things past.”
After a few more lip-licking sips, Marie went in for some positing: “You know that scene in Dark Passage?”
“Um. Do I know a scene from Dark Passage? Do you know to whom you speak, Ma Damn?”
“Ok. Ok. You’re an expert. Great big deal, you. And you’re such a champ of not ending your sentences with prepositions. But, the one I mean, it’s that one where the cab driver is taking Humph to get his face redone, and they cross over from Kearny onto Geary, and there’s all that bright neon everywhere, all those incredible store and bar signs, and the people all in hats and overcoats, and in black-and-white it’s always like it’s raining, or has just rained. Anyway. You look at it that corner now. And, blech. No more neon. No more signs. It’s so drab. There’s like a check-cashing place there and a bus-loading zone, and it’s all plain and ordinary with no liveliness or any real pizzazz of any sort.”
“The past is a foreign country, my dear. They do things in an odd fashion there.”
“Are you quoting something?”
“Kind’a. Well, I’ve always admired the first-person point of view they used in the beginning of that one, you know, so you can’t get a look at the main character’s face before he’s ‘transformed’ into Bogart. It never really caught on in the movies. Probably a good thing. It gets insufferable for the audience after a while.”
“I like the God’s eye view the best.”
I kissed her on the cheek. She blushed a tad; not much, but just enough so that I noticed; and winked at me as we sat there on our fancy stools and tipped back two of the most delightful Manhattans we’d ever had.
“So, how are the trials and tribulations of the aging hipster going?”
“Me? Right. I’m about as hip as a square pocket. Well, my life, it’s pretty much a complete tattered disaster, always parked in a no-parking zone, waiting on moments that used to arrive steadily, and now just depart. Always seeing things that aren’t around anymore. Wishing they would’ve stayed, I guess. But I’m happy as hell about it. Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Some other patrons had started to filter in, commandeering the tables and booths, and pulling up stools to the bar. The patter of small talk and quick whips of laughter put the room to life, gently rocking things to the brink of excitement. The piano music came and went: intermittent bursts of timely feelings that wrapped us up but never bound us.
She leaned her lips to the nape of my neck: “You smell like cinnamon sticks.”
“Why, thank you.”
“Can you tip that piano man for me…you know…to play…”
“What you always want to hear when it’s time to go. Sure.”
“For now, it’s always that time, isn’t it?” She fluttered her eyelids and scrunched up her brow, sweeping the auburn bangs of her Long Bob cut to the side and tucking the sides back behind her ears.
I abandoned my post, leaving Marie there to keep our drinks company, and made my way through a few larger parties to where the piano player resided at his bench. I tipped him a five, telling him, “Hey, how about one for my baby, and, hell, maybe one more for the road too?”
He laughed — a good, solid, natural laugh; one without any pretense or sham — and then told me, “As always, will do, for the lady who never shows. Of course.”
I nodded and showed him a few crooked teeth. Then I proceeded back to my spot at the bar. And I sat there. And I sipped at the drink in front of me, but left the other one alone. It was for her, after all, and she wouldn’t want me poking around in it. If she were here to hear this. If she still were around. If I weren’t too busy using the memory of her as a prop. And the piano player started in with that maudlin Mercer tune: “It’s quarter to three. There’s no one in the place ‘cept you and me. So set ’em up Joe. I got a little story I think you oughtta know…”
I ought to know better. I really should. But I never do.
“I’m feeling so bad. Won’t you make the music easy and sad…”
It’s not only what you loved; it’s when you loved it. The plunk of these keys, it never fails. Paddling along on the sound of it. Quicker if not slow. Rehearsed too late to show. A mess of what’s always anxious to be less worrisome. Rattling off the best of my rights in love’s steady fall, worst foot behind me. All it ever does here is rain. This is why Dorothy Parker hated February.
“And I’ve got a lot of things I want to say. And if I’m gloomy, please listen to me. Till it’s all, all talked away…”
Next train please.
The movements come and go. The call of the mild. The worrisome beauty of the unknown. Judgements withheld until further notice. The cargo of the present’s getting too heavy to heft up over my head again. Blasted.
“So thanks for the cheer. I hope you didn’t mind my bending your ear…”
There is no here around to count on. Nobody left to hold hands with or give flowers to or spend a rainy day on.
“But this torch that I found. It’s gotta be drowned. Or it soon might explode. So make it one for my baby, and one more for the road.”
Love to bother you. It’s a qualified misunderstanding. A mistook take on the rare expectations of it all. A man tapping his foot in a movie theater to the sound of canned laughs. Here, have a belt of this stuff. It’ll hurt me more than you. I’m sacked. The feathers of the past have all fallen for good, and me, I don’t do a thing except grow older and older. The pigeons memorize their favorite spots on the wires and the flies are buzzed on dripped suds and the winter’s finally playing nice with the evening’s hem. There are so many less awful things than spending a night alone. I guess this would be the perfect time to paddle on back home.