In October of 2003, You Learned:
HOW TO REVERSE THE EFFECTS OF INVISIBLE JUICE.
I used to work with a woman who troubled me deeply. I don't think she ever understood how much she troubled me, unless she could feel the breeze pick up each time I strode past her cubicle. This is the only way I could bear passing her workstation on my way to the office kitchen, by quickening my pace as if trying to motor past an old, haunted cemetery and escape its phantom grip.
I had to speed along that way. I couldn't make eye contact, because to look at her was to stare in the face of every error in judgment, and every reservation, I've ever made based on some a just-below-the-surface but not-quite-articulated lapse in self-esteem. Her cubicle was her permanent home, an office right on the floor, in plain view. She could be at her company for 25 more years and she will never be moved into a more desirable space - an interior office-crate - unless she became miraculously grandfathered in during a deadly viral outbreak. She will never ask for a raise, I thought, and she will never interview competitively; she might not even know how. She never imagined herself there, taking up space like she was ordered through a STAPLES catalog, but somehow here she is and she isn't going anywhere else. In my mind she had always been a living (and possibly breathing, though i've never heard any) monument to permanence through defeat.
And each time I caught a glimpse of her, I went momentarily cold. If you have friends who read only the parts of scientific articles they find interesting - the first paragraph and pull quotes - they've probably spoken to you at some point about how humans will eventually just become machines that get worn down, and replaced with new parts. Combine genetic engineering with highly specialized mood altering drugs and you've got a great headstart on a fleshy robot race of administrative automatons. Well, my co-worker was like an alpha version of that. Her hair style looked a bit like a wig stolen from a Lane Bryant mannequin. Her features seemed airbrushed on, barely making an impression in the skin of her face. She never speak unless spoken to and even then it was basic artificial intelligence; all reaction, little action. She never moved unless interrupted. I'm sure she could count sixty perfect seconds out loud, without ever looking at a clock. I expect her genitals smell like the inside of new Tupperware.
She became a dangerous source of fascination for me, and eventually I decided I wanted to understand her, and put a human face on her to make her less mythic, frightening. I began quizzing many other employees about her. I would inquire about her official position within the company, or her general role as an employee, but no one could provide a straight answer - not even people who shared a fabric-covered cubicle wall with her. She was a mystery, like that abandoned desk that sits on the office floor for many months, or the door in your company that remained closed for so long you dismissed the idea that it could be concealing anything, until one day you walk by it and notice it's open AND someone has been working behind it all along. She was like that.
Finally I started making a very conscious effort to make eye contact with her. I would give her a wink and a nod and, later, a short "hello" each time I encountered her in her cube home. When I would do this, she'd avert her eyes, and instead of returning my greetings, she would just lower her head and spread her fingers out over her keyboard lightly, as if feeling it out in darkness. I understood this anti-social behavior immediately. She liked being invisible, and I was blowing her cover, drawing heat.
HOW TO KNOW JUST WHAT TO DO WHEN THE MUSIC SWELLS THAT WAY.
Radio is one of those rare, special movies. It's something we haven't seen in a while, disguised as a great many things we have seen, almost to the point of nausea. American audiences will immediately feel intimate with the film's smalltown atmosphere, its can-do attitude, and its glorious triumphs of the human spirit, from the most highly evolved members of this species down to the most readily dispensible by government mandate. Why, people may even recognize (and rightly so) that Radio is an amazingly fluid hybrid of three distinct genres in filmmaking formula: The Magical Retard meets The Loosely Based On Real Events (probably a 300-word human interest piece in Parade magazine) meets Messianic White Man Helps Dark Colored Person/People. But here's what you don't know about Radio: he eats babies. Lots of them. Sometimes two at a time, working back and forth from hand to hand. And a whole Southern town turns its collective head while it happens. Is that sick or is it just the inevitable sacrifice you must make to slake your thirst at the till of Knowledge?
Of course, it's mostly tasteful, offscreen baby-eating - an ominous, lengthened silhouette of Radio leaning over a crib or a squeamish pan away from the action as Radio unhinges his jaw around an infant's soft head, a long string of saliva escaping from his cracked lips in greedy anticipation of a feeding. But forget what you see and what is mere suggestion, and make no mistake about it: this baby-eating business is just as much a part of his story as football, listening to the perfect Motown song on antique radios, and offering unsolicited hugs to high school students. And that's the kind of thing they don't put in the posters because, really, how do you photograph magic? (and don't you dare answer, 'with a white wizard's camera, and film sprinkled with faerie dust from the valley of Noom,' you no-good cheating son of a bitch.)
Radio's teaching us, all right, and not just about laughing and dancing and tackling and eating babies. Even if we draw your eyelids like shades, he's still showing us things that burn right through and make us cry out because, isn't it true, the truth doesn't feel like the soft belly of a kitten. That shit hurts, like the poison-tipped spiked belly of one of those Pokemons. Yeah, Radio's teaching us, and you know what? There's not a thing we can teach that kid ourselves. Not a God Damn Thing.
HOW TO NAME-DROP.
I attended a pretty excellent concert last night, thanks to CMJ. It was a showcase for ROUGH TRADE records and included four bands, with the vague promise of a fifth. (belle and sebastian were rumored to appear as a "surprise guest" and they truly surprised everyone by not showing up. there might have been a replacement scheduled and, during one band's set i dreamed that replacement was the pixies and i could brag about it until i was dead but, after quizzing a couple audience members and getting no answers, i came up with no answers. because i'm old, i decided i'd just leave before a fifth took the stage and just take my chances on them either not showing, or sucking really hard.)
The Fiery Furnaces opened the show. It was the first time I'd seen them but I would see them a hundred more times, I think. They were super rock and roll, and I could feel the audience gradually getting a collective erection for the female lead singer. In rock bands, female lead singers, especially tall, snaky ones, are always erotically charged and this woman was doubly so because she played guitar, instead of stupid bass. I used have a huge crush on Freda Boner (later Freda Love) from The Blake Babies, mostly because she was a drummer. I'm not even sure I can remember what she looked like, honestly. It was just refreshing to see her banging away like a crazy, feral child instead of absent-mindedly plunking along on bass, another Robert Palmer back-up musician faking it. The woman from The Fiery Furnaces went nuts and didn't even break the fantasy by doing that thing many female leads are inclined to do onstage i.e. drape themselves all over their male bandmates and have sex with four black guys in zorro masks onstage. The Fiery Furnaces, you've got class!
The British Sea Power were up next, and I bought my ticket based solely on a desire to see them play live. They took the stage in lo-fi costume - white socks pulled up tight, stretched over jerked-up pantlegs, British WWI helmets and scarves and, in one member's case, a veil of plastic flowers hanging over his face like verdant bangs. The band was wonderfully, playfully pretentious and although sound mix problems set them off to a bad start, they had a really strong finish. By the end of the set, one member was shoeless, another had only one shoe remaining, and I had lost my mittens and thermos cap.
It made me sort of sick that The British Sea Power had to perform beneath Adam Green in the bill, but so be it. Adam Green was the kid who dressed like Peter Pan in his old band, The Moldy Peaches, and back when he was 14 he could be forgiven for being halfway retarded. Sorry, Adam, time's up. Now he dresses like Julian Casablancas, but still behaves like Tiny Tim. (and not the good, crippled one. the other one, with all the tulips and shit.)
Adam Green is frustrating. His songs are knowingly, winkingly inspid and awfully short. Their brevity is both a blessing and a curse, I suppose. At under 3 minutes each, for sure, and usually under 2 minutes, you know each song will be over soon but you cannot console yourself in this fact, because there might be twenty-five more of them before his set is over. He had some genuinely adoring fans in the audience, too, and they all sang along as he warbled about Jessica Simpson and putting pee pee in his poopie hole. Is it cool to like Adam Green? I want to know, because when I hear him I think, "hey, this would be an awesome song to hear...on the Dr. Demento Radio Hour." Why is Adam Green any different than, say, those guys who sang about dead puppies? His only distinction is his Lower East Side greasiness, and knowing how to wear the right rinse of denim.
The night's headliners, The Kills, get compared to the White Stripes, primarily because the band is just a boy and a girl and an electric guitar and a drum machine. (meg is sort of a drum machine, isn't she?) However, their stage dynamics are weirder, scarier than anything I've ever seen coming from The White Stripes. Whereas Jack and Meg seem playful, and celebratory, the skinny junky lady and the older British guy who probably burns his girlfriends with cigarettes and likes to put their heads in the toilet while he's having sex with them (sorry, but i don't know their real names) are angry, drugged, and deliberately sexually-charged. When they sing together on a single microphone, their lips almost intersect, like their trying to mouth-feed each other their pre-chewed lyrics. They were excellent to watch, partly because you weren't sure if the female singer would fall over, and partly because you wondered if they'd fuck right there, onstage. That makes for a fun show. I left the show thinking He was an abusive lover and she was completely dead inside. If they were The Carpenters, that would probably be the wrong way to enjoy the music. However, they're a loud, bluesy duo, so I'm sure they're pretty aware of the images they've conjured.
More and more now, I'm seeing people with digital cameras at these shows. They hold them lofted above their heads and from a distance and height (i was in the balcony for the first two bands) the illuminated view-finders held high look like flickering lighters. It's actually sort of nice, even if I know the end result will be that someone is snapping pictures, thinking, "fuck, I can't wait to blog this!" Kind of like me.
HOW TO ACHIEVE IMMORTALITY.
Sometimes I look underneath the bathroom stall separators, and examine the shoes of my neighbor. I'm not interested in his business, which is invariably evacuating his bowels or hiding out until retirement. I look for the shoes to see if I recognize the owner, because it makes me very anxious to be seated that close to a good friend while I'm shitting. If that privacy wall were not separating us, we'd be close enough to have a proper conversation; it would be no different than sharing a table at the office dining hall.
But we're not having a proper conversation, my panicked mind tells me - we're both shitting, side by side. Or at least I am. He might be crying, or changing the settings on his cell phone. But I'm definitely shitting, quietly. And I worry that he (it is almost always a "he") will see my shoes and think, "Is that Todd? Is he taking a shit no more than two feet from me? He's totally indecent! I must remember to seat him with my born-again Christian cousins at my wedding, for one must show respect to earn respect."
I would like to bring a second pair of shoes to the office, just for shitting. Something nondescript, like a plain, black leather J. Crew Buck with a gum sole - you know, the kind of shoe someone who loves to shit might wear. Then I wouldn't feel obligated to whisper, "I'm so sorry, I'm so unclean," each time I flush. My identity would be secured and my neighbor, hearing the flush, then the second flush, would, like me, expect nothing more or less from someone wearing those shoes.
Today, as I was leaving the bathroom - I hadn't been shitting, but just washing my face for the seventh time today - I heard a guy inside a stall speaking to a guy outside a stall. (that's weird, right? when someone does that to me all i hear is "so blah blah blah HIGH-FIVE BECAUSE I AM MAKING A GIANT SHIT RIGHT HERE SON blah blah creative brief blah blah HERE COMES SOME MORE SHIT, TOTALLY UNEXPECTED blah blah unreasonable deadline POOP.") The man inside the stall said, "Is it sausage pork because I don't like pork but I do like sausage." The man outside the stall, whose head was bald and whose ass was the approximate size and shape of an Aeron chair saddle, wiped his hands on some paper towels, laughed, and exited the bathroom, announcing, "ha...I don't like pork but I do like sausage. That is one of the classic quotes of all time."
His book of quotations must be a very ineffective resource for PowerPoint presentations. "How about this? Let's lead the Seybold presentation with this classic doozy: 'Don't try to bullshit the Mayor of Bullshit!'"
HOW TO LOVE YOUR COUNTRY PROPER.
People tell me to stop answering their questions with, "America!" They tell me, "when I ask you a question, I do not think it a satisfactory response for you to appear taken aback, cough out a short gasp, and then cry, 'America!' as if you were providing an answer that already was, or at least should have been, abundantly clear to me."
But, really, isn't "America" a convenient - and true! - catchall for all manner of inquiries? Isn't it the reason and excuse for everything we do? When you ask me why I parked my truck on your lawn, and I say, "America!" don't demand further explanation, and definitely do not expect me to move that Chevy off your precious rock garden. Just take one of the cans of Miller Genuine Draft I've proferred from my paper grocery bag, and help me get these pit bull pups out of my truck, because you and me we're gonna sell them, for pets or food. And why? AMERICA! - that's why.
Why am I dancing so close with your wife during the national anthem at Fenway Park? America. Why did I ignore the sticker with your name written on it, and eat all the hash right out of the can? Why did I report your Earth Science tutor to the Department of Homeland Security? And why did I get my knuckles tattooed with "CHEVY" and "PRID"? I'll give you three guesses, and they'd better be "America, America, AMERICA!!"
So stop questioning me, and start saluting. Stop showing your weakness and mistrust and start showing your prid! It's my conundrum and my solution. When you see me getting thrown into the back of a police cruiser with my shirt off and Deluxe Sandwich-Press burns on my hands and forearms, don't cluck your tongue at me and tell the police I'd been drinking again. When the officer asks you for a statement, I want you to gaze upon my visage, my features softened from the streaks of saliva I've deposited on the inside of the police vehicle's rear seat window. Then look him square in his eyes and tell him, "You just go ahead and write down 'America'."
HOW TO DRAMATICALLY ALTER YOUR PERSPECTIVE WITH REGARDS TO GOOD OLD FASHIONED PETTING AND FOOLING.
I bristle when your hand gets anywhere near my ass, but I swear it's not your fault. I know you're not trying to interpret the Braille birthmark - you would ask first, right? It's just that I had this "problem" in high school and I'm still getting over it.
She was Jewish, so was I. We wound up in a tussle on her parents' sunken living room floor, right after school. What was I doing there? Planning a Jewish Youth retreat? Teaming up for a PSAT practice exam? (she was stronger in math; i excelled in verbal, at least up until the day it became necessary to put my money where my mouth was and i came up even, like steven.) I don't remember what started it, but it ended up with some deep french dipping, typical of any one-on-one unchaperoned social activity with a member of the opposite sex during my high school years. Fifteen minutes longer and I would have come, right inside my Dickies - the irony! - regardless of what I held in my hands, or in my mouth, but I stopped abruptly with at least six minutes to spare.
I wanted to hang in there, regardless of the inevitably humiliating outcome that I'd surely cover up with feigned exhaustion and the long tails of my rugby shirt. I had a lot riding on this, with regards to novelty. Her breasts were full, her waist was small, her brain was weird and powerful, her skin was the color of the diaspora, traumatically pale. And she possessed the kind of unbridled libido that was the unmistakable product of too many nights dedicated to college preparation and too many weekend days spent Israeli Dancing at the International Foods Festival with other gender-neutral teens. It was very exciting and I was really looking forward to prematurely ejaculating against the inside of my zipper. But, like I said, I stopped.
To be accurate, she stopped me, unintentionally, just as she tried to segue from kissing/grinding to something like an intimate celebration of "Ass Appreciation Day". I was lying face-down on the carpet, breathing in the sour aroma of twelve year-old spilled Cheerios dust and an entire nuclear family of natural foot secretions, and praying to God to keep my sperms inside me for just a few more minutes, at least until I saw her in a bra. (this is an inappropriate thing to pray for and 99% of the time the prayer isn't granted. God is such a genius!) She climbed atop me, lightly pinching her knees into my ribs, and reached behind her own back to grab a handful of my ass. I was shocked, but piqued, until she announced, to no one in particular (as we were alone), "Look at this tush! What a tush!!" In that instant, all of the blood drained from my face and penis and I scrambled out from beneath her, searching the room for a Kaplan study guide and a number two pencil.
As a man - particularly, as a Jewish man - the word "tush" is inextricably linked to family, and to childhood. (i'm not sure what catholics call their children's behinds. "sweet rolls"? "pin cushions"? "angel cheeks"?) When I fell down, I fell on my tush. When I misbehaved, I would be threatened with a swat across my tush. When I was having sex with my camp counselor, it was always in the tush.
Which is why, in the throes of petting, hearing the word "tush" invoked effectively grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and hurled me back into childhood, and the perpetual state of shame I endured throughout. Back to a time long before tongue-kissing and boners, when salacious thoughts were punished with bars of soap and bed without dinner and "The Dinner & Marie Show". With my ass gathered up in her hand, I felt tiny and ridiculous and disobedient. I wanted to shrink away from her. The whole experience jolted in me the same sense-memory that grown-up shame addicts experience when they wet themselves in public. (warm, then very, very cold and uncomfortable.) I drove home, tail between my legs, my tush stinging from the grip of phantom Jewess fingers.
Since that afternoon, many years ago, I confess I've had a difficult time dating other Jewish women. I've also had trouble with my ass. When your hand hovers over it, I become guarded. As your hand brushes against it, my erection winces. And when your hand grabs it, even with your voice silenced and mouth pressed against mine, I can feel your breath releasing inside me, its tendrils creeping up through my sinuses and etching a message on my psyche: "This is, and will always be, your tush." That's when I flip you over, and you think I'm making an aggressive move. I'll never tell you I did it just so you wouldn't have to see a grown man cry.
HOW TO KILL AN AUTEUR'S COMEBACK.
Kill Bill was just released nationally today and, with the exception of a few cases of early unbridled adulation from film-geek journalists that felt more like literary pre-cum than incisive critique, the reviews have been uniformly unkind. Here is a sample of sound bites from the critics:
"Kill Bill jitters, dances, and performs colorful backflips, not unlike a brightly painted crap on an electrified floor."
"My favorite moment of Kill Bill did not occur until the very end. It was just as the credits began to roll, when the gentleman in front of me hurled a large cup of Pepsi at the screen and shouted, 'That movie ate a dick sandwich with a side of balls! Fucking fuck you, Tarantino!' "
"After stepping out of the theater, I immediately drove to the ASPCA and adopted a puppy - a gorgeous, playful Black Labrador mix. I named him Here's What I Think of Kill Bill, and then murdered him with a salad fork out in the parking lot."
"I've seen more exhilirating martial arts in an episode of Hong Kong Phooey."
"...more like Kill Me...please."
"Tarantino may be the next Tarantino."
"A black kid stole my seat and when I explained that I was going to alert theater management, he threatened to wait for me after the film and choke me in front of my wife. With good conscience, I can recommend neither this film nor black people."
"Tarantino's casting of Travolta in Pulp Fiction was, without question, inspired. His casting of the animated character 'Ziggy' as Shogun master, 'Shovelnose,' was borderline reprehensible."
"I fear this movie will reflect poorly on ninja assassins for many years to come."
HOW TO IGNORE POTENTIALLY INSTRUCTIVE SIGNS.
I am about to link you to an image. Before I do that, I need to preface this story and this image by explaining that I did not manipulate the photo or the original composition captured in the photograph in any way at all. To do so would have been unjust, and a bit disgusting. This is a photograph of something just as I found it, in nature.
Last night I came home and the first thing I noticed as I stepped into my foyer (which also serves as my kitchen and bedroom) was a small, furry red heart. I recognized it immediately. It was an appliqué. An ex-girlfriend had adhered the heart to the plastic case containing a mix tape she'd made me one Valentine's day. This tape is probably seven years old and the heart fell off many years ago, bound, I expected, for an environment better suited to romance. I guess one of my cats had dragged it out of hiding and deposited it by the door for me to find. Adorable, right? I guess that's why I thought it appropriate to leave it there, right on the hardwood floor. I liked it there, placed accidentally, and wasn't ready to molest it.
Then this morning, on my way out the door, just minutes after feeding my cats, and running very late for an appointment, I found this. THIS. The heart was exactly where I'd found it last night - same latitude and longitude, but at a slightly different altitude. Something had slipped beneath it, mysteriously. How did it get under there, without disturbing the heart? What kind of sign is this? Why were my cats chosen as the messengers? And, really, what kind of oblivious jackass am I that I require an omen of this magnitude and base simplicity? I'm sure I'm supposed to do something now, something monastic, probably, but in the meantime I've decided to simply make a record, clean up the mess and throw my small, vomit-soaked heart in the trash where it belongs.
HOW TO PUT A FINGER ON MOTHERHOOD.
With one small bump, we are off. In line at the JFK security gate, waiting to remove her shoes for the crackerjack staff, a woman briefly forgets where her personal space ends and everyone else's begins. In this moment she lets her massive, SUV-stroller get away from her, and it lurches forward a bit, love-tapping another woman in line. In the cosmic scheme of things, this would appear to be insignificant; it's one saliva bubble gone free. But it is significant, and it sets off a chain of events illuminating a classic New York struggle.
"Could you please not bump me with your stroller. I have a cat in my bag." The offended sawed off each word expertly, letting them fall in a perfect configuration that pointed blame, suggested intent, and exalted cat ownership to a religious duty. It turned heads, including mine. Will this pass, we all wondered. Should this pass? Of course not but yes, probably. The stroller mom assessed her accessories - baby, waterproof bags, stroller snow tires, Keds - and, deciding she was too good for this kind of abuse and probably possessed the Universal Right of Way, searched her personal menu of suitable responses. She dismissed "controlled silence" or "absent-minded apology" as options and went straight for "establish dominance."
"Excuse me. If I knew you had a cat in your bag, I wouldn't have bumped you!" She then turned to others in line, bugging her eyes, which is semafore for, "am I right or am I fucking right?" We all turned away, finding other things to occupy our attention. I read and re-read an advertisement about irritable bowel syndrome (it wasn't offering a cure; it was merely promoting the disease), while another man rightly pretended to faint.
Within seconds, the two women were at each other, volleying words like "hostile" and "unnecessary" with increasing impropriety, given the petty grounds for argument. I quickly realized, however, these women were not arguing about errant strollers and offended cats and appropriateness of tone; they were arguing about who had made a more noble choice in her life. This is a question that probably assuages and occasionally troubles the consciences of women across North America, but is a great violent schism dividing New York Women into two distinct types: Baby Mom for Life and Feline Mom for Life.
The Feline Mom struck first, naturally, her instinct for self-defense built up from wedding after wedding filled with friends and relatives asking if she'd "met anyone" yet. She always claimed her job came first, that she was neither lonely nor alone. (As the wedding guests imagined a series of clandestine affairs, hopefully with men, she imagined her cat licking salmon oil from her fingers.) Two years ago, she dressed her cat like a baby for Christmas. In the cab on the way to the airport she spoke to it in hushed tones, preparing it for the scary flight, and said, "I love you" in a voice strong and deliberate enough to make herself momentarily uncomfortable. Today, bumping her was an act of immeasurable disrespect, particularly from...a Breeder.
The Biological Mom was much, much worse, in my opinion, if only for her very clear sense of superiority. With each swipe she took at the Feline Mom she seemed to be making a transparently veiled assertion that having babies is what makes us better people. Having babies means winning. Having cats means shitting it up. "Look at this baby!" she broadcast through her snide remarks. "This came right out of me - I made this! There is no finer use of the human vessel. I am holding a future President of The United States, made from semen and glue and God's twinkly tears and hatched right from between my blessed legs. And look at your cat, you selfish woman. If I had a stroller big enough, I'd drive it right over your pet caddy like the main event at a Monster Truck Rally, just to show you how great this work called 'man' is." Of course, she said none of this but it was all there in her haircut.
The great thing about this altercation, besides discovering the cat was a giant, pink-eyed Persian, and that the baby had a bad, squashed face, was that these two extremes of motherhood are both totally legitimate choices in New York City, perhaps more than anywhere else in the world. I don't know who was right and who was wrong - this was a complicated argument - but I do know this: a baby with whiskers drawn on its face is about one-zillionth as precious as a full-grown cat in a diaper. Case closed.
HOW TO FIND THE NORTH STAR.
I will always admire San Francisco for its uncanny ability to remain seated in the golden years of American alcoholism. Pound for bourbon-soaked pound, the city has the best bars in the country, heralded by the greatest storefront signs.
Last weekend brought be back to San Francisco again. With two trips in a single year, it is becoming what Epcot Center has become to my parents - a second home. My trip was centered around a friend's wedding, where everyone was more famous than me. I learned how much money Gary Busey makes at each tent revival he attends (and what kind of cut he gets at the door); I found out that Subway's spokesperson, Jared Fogle, has regained enough weight that he must be filmed in a seated position. (soon they'll only film him in tight close-ups around his eyes, or from a satellite camera. i blame the southwest sauce, or the heroin.); and I got in touch with an old friend - me. (he owed me money.)
One of the nicest and most unexpected parts of the trip, however, was visiting the grand opening of a friend's bakery in the newly renovated Ferry Building. The bakery itself was a fever-dream of preciousness, nuanced right down to the pink dress, kittykat Doc Martens, and perfectly manicured bangs of one of its employees. To me, a good bakery is the kind of place that confuses you into believing you can eat parts of the space that aren't meant for consumption, and when I was chastised for licking the paint off some cabinetry molding I knew this place was going to be a success.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is one of those rare destinations that makes me feel at once blissful and utterly ashamed. In this respect it is not unlike feeling evoked by slowly and firmly pressing my face against a woman's unclothed ass, or from plunging my hands into a tub of vanilla pudding. The Marketplace is crowded with all sorts of edible, desirable goods from organic creameries, merciful butchers, cherubic herb merchants, and all sorts of other fresh-scrubbed do-gooders thrusting free Lady Apple samples in your face or attempting to outfit your children with (organic? biodegradable?) balloon animal helmets.
Every eye twinkled, and I was treated to loose dialogue like, "Palmiers are my weakness!" and "do you have anything cuter?" More than once I had to react politely to strangers squeezing my upper arm, pulling me toward them, and whispering into my ear, "they made this paradise for us." I think if there were a special heaven for liberal-minded Caucasians, it would look like the Ferry Building Marketplace, or some variation thereof. It would be a heaven where brioche is a household word, inquiring about parking for your Segway wouldn't get you punched out, and a question like, "what kind of toast do you have?" is inevitably followed up with responses like, "have you seen our toast menu?" In short, a beautiful place I might like to sample occasionally but could never really remain with my sanity intact - sort of like San Francisco.