Friday, December 29, 2006

Snippet About P. #4

Soon P. and I were in a cab and rolling over to the Richmond. I rolled my window down and the wind roared in and I said, "This is the life: riding in a cab with a handsome gentleman on a sunny Sunday." P. liked that. He smiled and agreed, "This is the life: riding in a cab with a handsome woman."

We went over to the Balboa Theater, on Clement out near the beach. P. developed a desire for See’s candy and asked a couple of people where he might find some. There wasn’t a See’s near there, but a woman directed us to a candy shop just a couple of doors up the street where they had bins full of garish novelties drenched in food coloring. They also had ice cream and P. got a chocolate cone. He asked the two women in the store if we could sit outside, and dragged a chair out to the sidewalk, where he and the sidewalk became thoroughly covered with chocolate ice cream.

Then we went to the theater and saw Bad Education, which I liked a lot. Beforehand, P. asked if I’d help him take off his jacket. When I didn’t spring into action instantly, P. said, "I can find someone else to help me take off my jacket," and then he grinned at me, which I knew meant, "I’m guilt-tripping you right this minute and we both know it because we’re both alcoholics and we know all about guilt-tripping."

When we came out of the theater after the movie, P. accosted three Asian fellows leaving a restaurant and said, "If you wanted to go out to eat and you didn’t want Asian food, you wanted a burger, where would you go?" One of the men suggested Bill’s Place, at 25th and Clement.

P. had been there many times in the past and was inspired by that idea, so we set off there. After he realized I meant to make him walk the entire way, he insisted on walking on the shady side of the street, though he almost always wants to be in the sun. He proposed taking the bus and actually flagged one down, which stopped and then went on when we didn’t walk over to it.

"Why can’t I take the bus?" asked P., sinking onto a seat in a bus shelter, and looking like he might cry. I passed the buck to his sister and said she had decreed that there would be no bus travel, but said that I agreed, and that it was because we love him and are afraid he’ll fall and crack his head open.

He said, "Okay, now I understand. I don’t know why you didn’t just say so in the first place. So I can’t ride in a bus, but can I ride in a cab?" "Yes, you can ride in a cab all you want."

On we went to Bill’s Place, with P. asking constantly, "How far are we from there?" and asking every second passerby, almost all of them Asian, "Sir, do you know where Bill’s Place is? You can’t always eat Asian food."

Finally I said, "We know where Bill’s place is: It’s at 25th and Clement." He said, "Just because you know where it is doesn’t mean I know where it is."

I told him that he was my good friend and that I loved him but that the questions were becoming irritating and that I hoped he wasn’t going to say, "You can’t always eat Asian food" to every single Asian person in the Richmond.

He was silent and I added, "Why don’t we save up the questions for those times we really don’t know the answer?" But of course he does not know the answer. For one thing, he likely already forgot the answer he heard half a block ago, and I guess he’s right that my knowing something isn’t the same thing as him knowing it, though it does also slightly offend my ego to have him place more trust in some random stranger than in me.

However, he probably has been asking questions of random strangers for decades and it’s probably not exactly something I should take personally. I resolved once again to just let him ask whatever of whomever.

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