My first day back in SF I diverged downtown.
I crossed Market Street when a man with Charles Manson's eyes and Santa Claus's hair approached me. I made eye contact. I know better than this. Sane people interpret eye contact as happenstance. Lunatics elucidate eye contact as an invitation to converse for the following twenty-nine minutes, to sit in the passenger seat of your car, or, to a friend of mine last December, to swindle the hat off his head and declare it as their own. Santa advanced to me and announced that he had graduated from Law School. "Congratulations," I replied. I know better than this. However, I had just ignored a "Hello," from another wayward soul. Upon my blatant disregard for conversation, he had trailed me screaming, "At least respond. My dog pays more attention to me then you do. Bitch." Then he spat at me.
I commented to Santa without slowing my stroll. He stepped next to me and persisted at my pace.
"Do you have a quarter? Can I have a quarter?" he asked as I navigated through the torrents of oncoming pedestrians advancing like Cubans coming to America. I answered that I unfortunately didn't have a quarter.
"I graduated from Hastings School of Law. You wouldn't think that I would be asking for a quarter, would you?"
"Nope." He wore jeans and a white t-shirt. Aside from his eyes he appeared lucid. However, I knew from experience that appearing sapient signified as much as Hitler pronouncing he did nothing wrong. A few years ago a young girl with the face of a Cabbage Patch doll had asked me for money. I said, "Sure!" with as much elation as Bostonians felt when the Red Sox cracked the curse after eighty-six years. I had a chunk of change in my purse the size of a watermelon and would delight in departing with it. I dispensed a handful. Cabbage Patch looked at me like I had just offered her Monopoly money covered in vomit. She screeched that she would only accept the quarters and that the other money was crap. She pocketed those she wanted, hurled the remainder on the sidewalk, shrieked, "Whore!" and trotted away.
"Did you go to school? Where'd you go to college?"
I knew better than to respond. But the remembrance of being called a whore and the most recent "bitch" galvanized my reluctant reply.
"USF wouldn't let me in to their law school," Santa asserted with the indignation of an attorney accused of lying in a court of law. "You know why?" he continued.
I inferred it was too late to ignore him, but I attempted anyway. "You know why??" he yelped, stepping in front of me. I tried to tread around him, but his 6'3" legs barred my efforts.
"Why?" I appeased him so I could persevere walking.
"USF wouldn't let me in to their law school because I know Jews," he educated me.
This was about as plausible as Jesus must have sounded when he strolled the streets claiming he was the Son of God.
"The school wouldn't care. But how would they even know that you know Jews?"
"They know I know Jews because they followed me. They follow me," he whispered with a frenzied head-swivel.
At this time I observed a Carl's Jr. to my right.
"Well, it was lovely to meet you, I'm going to get food," I declared and stepped away.
"What? I'm an important person! My name's Melvin," he screamed as I walked to Carl's Jr.'s door.
A man held open the door for me and his friend as Melvin howled.
"Nice to meet you Melvin," the man addressed to Santa. "Did you meet Melvin? His name's Melvin," he addressed to his friend. His friend rolled his eyes to the heavens.
I walked through the Carl's Jr. door to Melvin bellowing again, "I'm a very important person!"
I was home.