Small Days

We are riding along beside the yacht harbor, and on the radio there's news of citizens in London being blown apart. They are pawns in a political game. With heavy weapons, a few people can hold the masses under their control. But of course there's always the resistance. Order and chaos are married, and the resistance comes from imposing order too strictly. The response? Impose order more strictly. "You can put on the c.d. now, " I say. My teenager slips "Workingman's Dead" into the player.

"We're going to be tourists today," Jazz says as we stop into the Pergamino Cafe on Columbus for breakfast. She orders waffles with blackberries and I have bagel with cream cheese, tomatoes and onions. The waffles look so good I order another round of them, which we share. We are at the open window, beside the sidewalk seating. "Do you think they are mother and daughter?"

She knows who I mean. We are usually tracking the same phenomena.

"At first I thought she looked like Annabelle."

"Annabelle wouldn't wear that outfit," I said. "She'd be more conservative."

"That's what I realized," Jazz says.

"Do you think that's her mother with her?"


The younger woman has gotten up from the table and is talking on a cell phone. The mother is still sitting down. The mother is classical music, benefiting from the expiration of copyright. She does well with limited means, and is attractive. The daughter looks like she might be on her way to the Jerry Springer Show. It's nothing too obvious or outrageous, just the way she stands, the sloppiness of the fit between her body and her clothing, and a hardness frozen into her features.

"It's the handbag," Jazz observes.

She is carrying a cheap looking, gold colored handbag. "Ah. You're right."

The only other person at the outside tables is a city policeman. He looks old and worn out, and seems to pay no attention to the world outside his newspaper.

We move on toward the water.

In the Cannery there's a man playing guitar and singing. He sounds really good, and makes it look so easy. "How do they do that so effortlessly?"

"They've been playing for twenty years."

"You think that's it?"


We are on our way to visit the sea lions, but when we get to the wharf beside Pier 39 they are gone. There's only one left. It's laying on the last pier, and a gaggle of people gather and disperse to watch him (you can tell by the head bump) do such mundane tricks as opening and closing his eyes, or once in awhile raising his head to look around.

"Where are the rest of them?"

"I don't know. Maybe it's not the time of the year for them to be here."

"Then what happened to him. Was he asleep when they left?"

"Could be. Maybe they left him so that the city couldn't claim eminent domain. He's holding down the fort here."

In the background of our early afternoon visit to the most tourist plagued of San Francisco neighborhoods is an ongoing quest for yellow socks. Jazz has it in her mind to find them but they are elusive. There is a specialty store in the Cannery that sells socks of every description, which we have planned to stop into on our way back to the car.

"It's Thursday at one-thirty in the afternoon. How can they be closed?"

"It could be a family tragedy or something, I don't know. Maybe they hired somebody who just closed up and went to a late lunch."

"So much for finding yellow socks."

We are parked near Tower Records on Columbus, so we stop into the store to get a copy of "Misery." It has become a favorite. Kathy Bates is amazing in her ability to move from one extreme to the other as she saves James Caan from an accident and then holds him as her captive. "Now look what you made me do!" she shouts when she spills soup on his broken body, which is under her care.

It has become a favorite line which we use liberally on each other.

These are small days, under the shadow of G-8 and terrorism and the growing shadow of the corruption in power's contract. In the parking lot a young man is so high on something he has become ungrounded and floats away into the air. His balloon head floats by with a dumb smile on it. "What do you think he's on?"

"Probably LSD or ecstasy, some kind of psychodelic."

"Hmm. Maybe magic mushrooms."

"Yea, maybe."

The Dead are singing "Black Peter."

Posted: Thu - July 7, 2005 at 04:24 PM