I was having the strangest dream. In it, I was wearing the dress and ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in The Wizard of Oz. I also had Lil Wayne's grill in my mouth and wore a dark wig that had two Pipi Longstocking's braided pigtails shooting straight out from my ears.
I was on a stage dancing and rapping. The audience members were just silhouettes with white eyes because the room was dark with only the two small saloon doors way in the back letting the bright sunlight beyond. All of the sudden, those doors swung wide open and Marshall Eminem came striding in with two ivory handled six guns strapped to his hips and huge tin star pinned to his chest. He was wearing Kid Rock's hat.
I was rapping somethin, somethin, somethin, and then the chorus went, "You ain't my real dad. You just my step-dad." The rap lyrics again went somethin, somethin, somethin; then the second chorus went, "You ain't my real Frito. You just my step-Frito." There were back up dancers in skin tight white outfits gyrating behind me and a couple of back up singers on each side cooing, "You just my Step-Frito," in perfect harmony.
It was at this point that my rational brain got involved and said, "What the hell is going on here?" A British bloke stepped out from behind the curtains and started shouting, "Cut! I said cut! This is bullshit!"
The scene went black then blindingly white. I opened my eyes and found myself in a rumpled bed with the sun blaring through the parted curtains in a hotel room at the Westin Gaslamp wondering why it took the words "You just my step-Frito" before my ability to reason saved me from the nightmare.
I wrote the dream off to the pizza and beer I had for dinner but not before admonishing my rational self to shoot me a warning before my shadow self started shopping for gingham dresses and ruby slippers. I also gave it permission to shut the whole thing off if I so much as donned a wig no matter how ugly.
I got up showered using all the shampoo and conditioner in the small plastic bottles provided by the hotel. I dressed slowly pulling on the wrinkled blue jeans I retrieved from the floor and a clean t-shirt that I shook a couple times to iron.
Then I went down stairs and set off to explore one of my favorite places, San Diego's Gaslamp district. I've always wanted to live in place where I could read my newspapers while sitting in a sidewalk cafe sipping coffee and watching pretty women walking by. The Gaslamp is the first place I ever actually did that. Better yet, it used to have a Borders, and I could shop for books before I went and ate breakfast.
I rambled next door to Horton Plaza, or I should say where Horton Plaza used to be. It was a freaking ghost town. There was just a single kiosk open where an older Asian man stood there blinking, licking his lips and wondering where everybody else had gone. It looked like a place where the Johnny Depp character in Rango and few of his buddies might live. Furtive eyes peered out from the shadow places, so I didn't linger. I looked around for tumbleweeds and listened for rattlers but only heard the rattle of newspapers and fliers as they skitted across the dusty concrete floor. The rattlers and the tumbleweeds, exhibiting more perception than the Asian Kiosk owner, had probably had already split the scene too.
I walked out of the shadows feeling just a touch like someone who had emerged from the Inferno, a bit of sadness mixed with the joy of emerging back into the light. True, I had only gone down to garage level, but the light was nice. I had loved shopping at Horton Plaza, now it was gone.
I walked around the corner of the building and ran right into a homeless person sleeping on the sidewalk. People of all shapes and sizes, ethnicities, and sexual persuasions were walking by oblivious to the man, wrinkling their noses at the smell of his urine soaked jeans. I couldn't call then blue jeans because they were covered with grime. The few belongings the man had were sitting by his head blended into the trash pile he had created. It was hard to distinguish between the two.
I was looking for a Padre's cap. I had wore my new Giant one on the ride across LA, an act I considered to be quite courageous in and of itself. Ever since that one Giant fan ended up in a coma after a game, I didn't trust LA. Getting your head bashed in is a high price to pay for loving Willie Mays.
I wanted to blend in today. However, there were no Padre caps around the hotel. I knew that Petco Park, several blocks south would have shops selling Padre gear, but didn't think I could make it out there and back.
In my younger days, I would have went and got the hat and had a beer in every bar on the way back, but them younger days have made me fat, sad, and somewhat crippled. So, I decided to do without the hat, walk about three, four blocks south and have a drink in a bar on every block coming back.
While I headed south, I walked past a lady, or at least the remnants of one. She was short and stout as the proverbial tea pot and was shoving a red shopping cart in front of her and talking to herself as she did. Her hair used to be red at one time. You could tell by the reddish tips on the long wisps of grey sticking out from under the black sock hat she wore. Her skin was burned cheek red and blistered. Her eyes which were locked into a tractor beam were small and hardened into two black pebbles
I quickly decided she might have been talking to God. I don't know for certain whether God had picked up on the other end, but he was the only one who could have been the recipient of such an intense, angry conversation.
I turned and watched after she trudged by and wondered what she would say in prayer at night as she crawled behind her dumpster home using a cereal box stuffed with dirty socks for her pillow.
It's me Wanda. I don't know if you noticed, but I could use a little help down here. I'm trying to do better, swear to God, but my fortune ebbs and flows based on what these people throw away. I take from them because I have to, and the taste of cheap, red wine is so good.
Lord, forgive my sins and my bitter thoughts especially the ones I direct toward you. I'm a little frustrated. And please bless those less fortunate than myself.
This I ask in Jesus's holy name. Wanda
I wrote this prayer in my head as she was toddering away. She finally reached the corner and turned around and caught me looking. She gave me a hard go to hell look that commanded me to mind my own fucking business before she put her shoulders into it, and she and the cart disappeared around the corner and vanished forever.
I stopped in the first bar I came to. It had windows opened to the street and a huge chalk board behind the bar with the names of different beers. San Diego is town of beer snobs. I believe the bartenders would slap you from here to Sunday if you ordered some well known brand that didn't use corn syrup in their recipe, dilly dilly.
Instead, you have to tailor your tastes from the offerings on the chalk board from beers with names like Tongue of the Peacock, or Rattlesnake Candy Venom and pay about two or three dollars more a glass for the privilege. The bartenders usually look and dress like the Lumineers and make a point of adorning their faces with beards or handlebar mustaches and having shirt sleeves rolled up to show off their tattoos.
The women bartenders are usually hot as hell with Betty Page bangs and gold things in their noses. They are friendly and even take time to shoot the shit with an old fart like me. They always call me Hon and make me think of my younger days when I would have chewed the bark off each of them. Now I just sit and smile benignly and tip generously.
In the second bar I entered, I ordered a pint of Wayne Rooney White Pele, a beer that tasted suspiciously like Guinness, and sat at a table near the wide opened window. There was television over the bar, and I watched the news and sipped. A tall, homeless man was leaning in on the rail and watching the TV too. One of those small strip thingies ran across the bottom of the screen with the words, " Gov. Newsom pledges to build up El Salvador to Help Reduce the Flow of Migrants."
The homeless guy mumbled, " That dipshit thinks he's the governor of El Salvador."
I thought that he was speaking to me as much as anyone else, and that it was a humorous statement, so I laughed and answered, "You got that right." Not the most creative response I ever gave but very appropriate. In his inebriated state, he probably felt so too.
He laughed and said, "I should have his job; we should trade."
That caused me to blow beer out of my nose. I gave him a five dollar bill for the laugh, and he took it. His hand was as cracked as a dry lake bottom and six times as dirty. When he left, I thought about his last remark and wondered if I would rather vote for a Brie eating, limousine riding haircut with shiny shoes or a filthy, homeless alcoholic with cracked dirty hands? It was a lot closer than you might think.
I had read a news story the night before attached to a graphic map of all spots where people have defecated on the streets of San Francisco. The map looked like a plate of refried beans, and not a fancy plate that you get in good Mexican Restaurants but a greased stained paper plate where the food is great and cleanliness an afterthought. I feel that common sense would say, that this should have been a major issue when we picked our governor.
But Californians don't think like normal people. They don't notice the irony of a city's governing class that expects more out of its dogs than its citizens. They don't allow themselves to think about the fact that Newsom presided over a sanctuary city for people who like to defecate in public places. Besides, he bares a striking resemblance to the Simpson's Mr. Burns. I don't believe that that's a coincidence.
I don't much care which side fixes the problem but firmly believe it has to be fixed. We can't go on allowing human beings to turn themselves in small piles of shit polluting the streets of our fair cities and then pretending that it's good for them, just so we can continue walking by them without guilt.
Replacing Wanda's cereal box with a real pillow is not only evil, it's an act deserving of punishment in the 10th circle of hell, the one that'll be revealed in the post-modern translation where it has been hinted that those who perpetuate the refried bean image of cities like San Francisco will be buried up to their necks in the mess cleaned off of those streets with only people who look and smell like Wanda for conversation and the only entertainment being a flashing video billboard of one Gavin Newsom vowing to build up all the circles of hell.
I drank the last beer of my journey in a bar close to the hotel. It was named something like Gomorrah's Glistening Dew, and it was all that I could do to get it down. It had hint of sulphur like the taste of a fresh struck match. I used it to wash down the peanuts on the bar.
I returned to my room where I added a tall scotch and water to my day's consumption. While sipping my drink, I looked out of the window at the people scurrying by on the streets below. I decided to take a short nap before meeting my daughter for dinner in Old Town, but not before I looked around the room, in the closet, and under the bed for a Pipi Longstocking wig and a pair of ruby slippers.