The Date – Part 1

It’s bothering me not writing the bigger novel at this point, but I need a decent winter to get through that one. Locked down and not the hint of the outside world. The coldness for the length of that one is going to have to take over. I don’t think I’ll be able to get it out with just a few hours each morning – this one should do well for that time format.

People always ask why I don’t spend too much time on descriptions and drawing out events and the answer is really quite simple – I just don’t have the time to do it. I think most people don’t have the time to read it either, which works out well. My ADD reader bases works well with my tight schedule.

One with the show. The date, let’s talk about that first date. Should get thing rolling and keep me away from silly moments like time machines and the rest. I dodged that bullet last time.

It’s tough when you’re really falling for a girl and you think about what to put on to take her out for the first time. Sure, you’ve gone around with her, perhaps even fooled around for a little bit, but that first time when the two of you walk down the street together, you’re picturing the connection.

I can’t remember the weather, but I wore a brown Hawaiian shirt and a 10 dollar thrift store leather with 5 dollar slacks that must have been worn by someone who really appreciated nice cuffs at the bottom. Thrift stores were still for the working class back then. Back then, I can’t believe it’s nearly 20 years ago that I am telling this story from. I can remember that day – the sun was the same as today but the air was tight and the streets not so empty. It must have been a sunday.

I knew that Jospehine had an edge to her so I wanted to do something memorable on the date. Sure, I’d go to my normal restaurant and other spots, but I needed to do something memorable. So, being 21 and life in front of me offering whatever I wanted: Here is what I decided would be adventurous.

There is a church in the center of Washington Square park. I think it’s the place that Joe DiMaggio and Marylin Monroe got married. It is a gorgeous structure that attracts tourists, houses concerns for locals, provides schools, and gives off a magnificent backdrop on rare sunny days with blue skys and a large patch of grass to lay out on.

I thought it was be a great idea to do a nice line of speed while kneeling down to pray in front of the virgin Mary. That was my plane – my shot at being remembered and started the relationship off right. Mind you, I already knew that he ex-boyfriend had killed himself because of her and that she was haunted by that, but I was thinking about how to be remembered. Fantastic.

We lived together at that point, so I went down to get her in her room where she was laying in her bed watching Marcy draw.

“You ready,” I asked, thinking that perhaps she’d notice me and melt away just a bit.

“You sure you don’t need me to stick around,” she said, grabbing her bag. “You should come with us. He’s taking me to North Beach. You should come. We’re going to City Lights and doing – what else are we doing?”

She was smiling big and talking soft, like the world was being planned out for her. I was thinking that perhaps my plans were not as teddy bear and magnificent as she thought. Memorable. That’s what we were going for.

We walked out into the 3 P.M. sunshine. Both of our sunglasses covered each other. I’m not sure what bus we jumped on first, but I think it was the 22 Fillmore – that was going to take us all the way up and we could walk down to North Beach from there. I think that’s how we got there. I remember watching her walk up the stairs of the bus and how different she was outside of her surroundings.

She moved slower, cautious, as if she was afraid every step beneath her was going to crush a newly built sandcastle. When she sat down in the bus, it was like being absorbed into the side of the metal frame. Kids in the back of the bus held radios that blasted Too $hort and had rhinestones sewn into their SF Giant hats. They were looking at her but she was lost through the window. I was concentrated on her reflection.

We talked for a bit and the didn’t need to as the constant stream of people getting on and getting off the bus gave us moving paintings to jump in and out of. We both smiled and shared looks all the way until Broadway, which, at the intersection we got off at, was on top of a hill that we needed to descend down towards North Beach, my heaven in the city. I kept checking to see if the bag was still in my pocket. She seemed relaxed, though he feet we like sensitive paws on the concrete while we walked.

A breeze came off the bay. She breathed. Smiled.

“You know, I’m glad you came into my life,” she told me, rocking back on her heels then to on her toes. “I needed somebody to talk with and to lead me a little. I’ve been doing that role for so long. You don’t mind, do you? I trust you not to take advantage of that position.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” I let her know. “Maybe we just needed to run into each other during this part of our lives. You came knocking my door, remember?”

She smiled. It’s easy to pump lines like that out when you’ve got the world in front of you. Movies are still fresh in your head. I started planning our years together in San Francisco as walked down the hill. I’d get good at my apprenticeship at the Museum, Vince would retire, I’d take over and be stable in San Francisco. People would alway need places like that to duck into and entertain themselves with on their free time from work. What else would they do to occupy their time? Can’t just watch TV or rent movies. San Francisco, I thought, would always be good like that to me. Offer up a place where I could work with my hands instead of just putting words down. I needed something to balance. I imagined us like that husband and wife couple at the Castro Theater helping each other on with their lives. Josephine could come an visit me when I was done with work, or I’d go and meet her when she was done with whatever it was that she wanted to do. I should ask her that. I did right there.

“What’s your life look like in 1o years,” I asked. “What do you want out of the world.”

She stopped for a moment then picked up again. “I guess – I think something in forensics,” she said straight away. ” I never minded tracing the root of why things happened. I think I’d be satisfied doing something like that.”

I had nothing to say really because I couldn’t see walking to her lab after I had finished working on those machines – maybe I could. She’s make a good bit of cash doing that and together we’d be able to support each other because, and I thought this then, that San Francisco would always be a working class city. We reached the tunnel that lead into North Beach and walked through in silence, feeling the foreign sounds of cars moving by. The darkness was actually white tiles and easy sounding echoes. I wanted to hold her hand so badly at that moment, to grab her and turn life into a moment right there but it was impossible. Impossible because I had my plan set already.

We emerged from the tunnel and saw the Big Al’s Sex Shop sign. That’s not the intro I wanted to give her to North Beach, so I hung a left and went through a back alley way through Chinatown where the ducks hanging in the windows and the smells of fish did not go with the entrance I had envisioned. No matter. I had my plan. To the church. Up Grant and back onto Columbus. We had missed City Lights, which is the thing I had been telling her about and the place I wanted to show her, but it was of no matter. Later. We’d hit it later. The plan. Stick to the plan.

Up Columbus and without that wandering aspect of it, with the determination of a place to be, the wonders of the neighborhood faded away. We got to the church and stood on the grass. All around us, everyone was in their own worlds. We walked in – not looking at any of the sculptures or paintings on the wall. I tried to usher her to the Virgin Mary as quick as I could, but she stopped to light a candle.

“Would you light one for him?” she asked. “I – It’s just something that I need to do. Don’t feel you need to be a part of this. It only haunts me.”

Here eyes were calling out for me. The hundreds of candles that moved back and forth reflected in the blackness of her pupils. If I lit the candle, did that mean I needed to abandon the plan? I lit the candle and felt her touch my forearm. The feeling of that touch though – she was trying to reach out to him. I had to battle his ghosts and take away anything that might have been accomplished in the church. Of course, this wasn’t part of my initial plan. I just wanted to create something memorable, a moment for us to share. The circumstances of everything that was happening around me made me believe it was fate – that what I was about to do was proper.

I reached into my pocket and showed her the back of crystals. She smiled, but it wasn’t happy – a mask of skin moved over her, not making her any less beautiful but certainly not as accessible. It didn’t matter. She was an image for me that I was filling in. We knelt down and I poured two nice lines out on a credit card. She took hers down without a problem. I went next, though not really knowing what I was doing, I had to do it in two separate lines. She lifted her head up as if a prayer had just been completed while I was coughing an gagging. The priest even came over to me and offered a cup of water.

Josephine smiled. “What’s next?”

I lifted my head up and saw the statue in front of me and knew it was time to get out of there and on with the rest of our date. As we walked outside of the church, she grabbed my hand and whispered so close into my ear that the inner arch of her lip rubbed against the nob part of my lobe.

“I need friends right now, okay?”

She touched me. That’s all I knew. My heart was about to shoot through my rib cage. My hands were shaking so much I needed hers to calm me down. Where was the next stop on the date? The sun was gone but it wasn’t night. The bottom of my teeth felt smooth. That helped. This was much more than just being stoned. I had a plan. I held her tight and kissed her. She didn’t refuse but didn’t give in. The anticipation was over and action had taken center stage.

We started out just like that. Nobody was hungry. I had money in my pocket. Coffee? No.

“What do you want to do,” I asked her. “We can do anything?”

“I thought you had everything planned,” she said. “What about City Lights?”

Yes. Yes. City Lights. Exactly. I grabbed her hand and we rushed back down Columbus towards City Lights Bookstore. The evening crowd was coming in. All dressed up. The prices in the restaurants  were all changing, but that didn’t matter because nobody was hungry. I led her towards to the bookstore and tried to shield her from all the people I didn’t want her to see. Where were all the locals? Where were the meats and cheeses hanging from the windows? I only saw BMWs. Pieces of conversations filled my ears as we passed. I still remember those today.

“It’s called email – Bike messengers are going to be out of here. Everyone is going to want to be part of this.”

“World Wide Web. That’s what it stands for.”

“No, not spider web. Inter net. We’ll all be connected. Millions to be made.”

That strip of street stayed in my head, but I was trying to get us to the bookstore that gripped onto the past for me. We made it inside. I was shaking she was doing what I was doing and looking where I told her to look and listen to what I was telling her to listen to, but nothing was as it was. The music was this furious tune that made my eyes rattle like the last legs of a plinko ride. The man who was usually behind the counter with the mellow cat must have been off that night. A girl leaning so she’d be noticed leaning purposely paid no attention to us. Upstairs. The new poetry section.

“Listen, listen to the sounds of the steps,” I shouted while sweating out what was left of the day. “Isn’t that sounds amazing? History? Yes? Can you feel it?”

She nodded but not how I wanted her to. The pocket book series of books. Ginsberg. Howl. Save me. It didn’t. The sentences ran over each other and burned me inside. I was disgracing my church now. Served me right. I bought her a copy anyway so she’s have something to remember the experience with and had both of us sign it. Good times.

Outside. Night. No calming down. I took a joint out of my pocket to calm me down, and passed it to her once I had taken a puff. She passed.

“I don’t smoke,” she said. “Messed with my head.”

“Don’t these crystals do that to you?”

“No. For me, it just speeds up life to the end, which is where I’m headed anyway. Don’t worry though, we’re going to have some fun from here on out. Smoke that up, I think it will calm you down. There was a lot pressure on you tonight. You did everything you wanted right?”

“I wanted to show it all to you.”

“You did. I can see that. We’re good now.”

She grabbed me and pulled me into the alley of city lights and we made out under the giant airbrushed head of Edgar Allen Poe.

My first ever girlfriend.

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