The Man stood at the corner of ____ Street and _____, his pants hanging round his knees. His dirty pecker poking over the top of his waistband, ass hanging out smeared and grimy. I hung back waiting for him to decide where he was going, mainly in part because I didn’t want to stand next to a man who had his pants by his knees and was standing cracked out in the street at 11am, maskless and coughing, then squatting right at the intersection as if he was considering squeezing out a shit. No one surely could blame me for not wanting to get too close. It would seem as if someone could: he looked at me hanging back, stared me right in the eyes, straightened up and charged at me shouting and screaming. I can’t tell you exactly what was said, I was too busy running away from him. He seemed to take offense or else sense weakness from the fact I didn’t want to stand next to him while he was half naked and squatting on his heels. Clearly I should have got closer, smiled and wished him good day, it was the only polite and sensible reaction.
I mean, I like to think I am tough, but man, that was a little tougher than I am up for nowadays. What if he had squirted liquid coke fueled shit over my shoes? I could smell him through my mask…and besides, he was coughing. In these days of plague it should be socially acceptable to not stand next to a maskless cougher. I did consider telling him I was retired, and as a result not subject to drug etiquette. It is not good manners to flinch or keep your distance from fellow ‘heads, or draw attention to their bodily functions or excretions. Treat as you would be treated yourself. However, I would require at least a couple of dilaudid and a swig of methadone to stand next to this man while he shit in the street, I am way too straight to even consider it a possibility and my flinching or distance keeping should not be punished by a screaming charge, head down, dick swinging, pants around knees.
Voodoo guy with his white painted face, the clown people in tattered clown clothes and smeared pierre make up, and crack pipes in hand, the Castro boys in flesh colored vests which glow in the dark, leather speedos and one gloriously ripped fishnet stocking the other leg bare bopping quietly to some internal drum, singing along to Billie Eilish, the young fair skinned natural blonde man laying on top of his sleeping bag masturbating, legs open in the midday sun dreaming of a warm body on top of his, the boys on their electric scooters and the girls on their skateboards in their flat soled platform shoes balancing in life and death downhill maneuvers, the gaggles of elderly Asian ladies who travel in packs for safety, and the elderly ladies out for walks with their impossibly tiny dogs that enjoy sniffing the emissions of street pissers under trees…the shouters and the nodders, they walk up and down this street in various states of disarray, undress and distress as if in a dream which is theirs alone.
I had a dream once upon a time, I had a dream of living in this city in the hills, I still do. In my dreams I suppose I lived in a smart pink house on Haight with a desk that overlooks the street, or a cute anonymous apartment overlooking the water, perhaps. Nobody dreams of living downtown, yet downtown has all the best dreams. Miss F____ dreams of Hollywood stardom, aged 36 with a baby and a man in tow, she stares at glossy instant images on her phone, and paints her nails in peach and gold. She dreams of being valued and pampered, of hosting talk shows and award ceremonies, bestowing thanks and her brilliant smile upon her grateful fans. Mr H_____ dreams of a pair of those good cargo jogging pants, in black from H and M, he thinks they would look good on him, they are exactly what he thinks he needs, and maybe he is right. they might fix everything. Mr C____ dreams of a world where he can eat his burger in peace without some punk trying to hurt or intimidate and disrespect him whilst demanding he fights – Mr. C dreams of peace. Ms T dreams of clipboards, they dance a pas de deux with a pen that never runs out and a backing chorus of all the doors in the universe to knock upon and tick off as present and correct and within the parameters of the rules, methodically marking endless reams of paper in her own book of dreams.
These dreams run thickly off the backs of the dreamers, their lives dream-proofed by poverty and the daily grind of violence. Yet despite the fact these dreams have little chance of coming true they still beam from faces and emit karma into the ether: little seeds and sparks that most likely will die withered in stony ground, or else get swept away by the weather. Some might sprout into the substance of reality, however remote those chances remain. Either way these dreams fuel the days of the dreamers and so have their own function powering days that pass in a series of disappointments and losses, both mundane and life altering.
I have been putting off going outside for toilet paper and toothpaste. If you can’t beat ’em join ’em, can only go so far. I do not dream of a pack of sanitary napkins, four toilet rolls, a tube of disinfectant wipes and a large bottle of hand sanitizer, nevertheless it is a necessary trip. Sometimes the mess needs to be cleaned up before dreams can be allowed to poke their sleepy heads above the ground. In my book of dreams I write the names in silver and underline their wishes in gold, offering some measure of speaking them into reality – a little fertilizer on the small seeds of the longing, mostly meaningless if honest in my desire for people around me to be happy and fulfilled. If I had a magic lamp, I would hand over the genie for the summoning, if it would do any good, if it would do any good at all….