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Sucker-punched by fried fish

Posted by on July 13, 2006

San Francisco is warm warm warm today and odors are hanging in the still air long past their expiration dates. Walking around I get sucker-punched by the smell of fried fish, jasmine, coffee, old clothes, cologne.

This poor city is aging and she knows it. Every summer she runs to furious menopause: hot flashes, tantrums. By the end of June she’s slamming the cupboard doors and demanding to know why she has to be the one to cook dinner every night. We all eat out until November. In the fall she starts crying and we spend the next six months trying to calm her down.

She has good days too. She puts on purple eyeshadow, vamps the indie kids who thought they hated her — that no-good bitch, with her high rents and her sad-faced homeless men — and suddenly they’re in bed with her, having the time of their lives and no idea how they got there. She might be sweet for a week before she turns on them, blasts them with a hot central valley breath or heaps clouds of fog on their black-dyed heads.

Still, you can find traces of her ingenue past if you look: her heart-of-gold-rush days as a high-kicking dancing girl, coarse faced full skirted, showing the miners a time. Little jeweled gardens filled with little jeweled birds, a sparkling harbor — every year, everything a little more besmirched, a little more overshadowed by another highrise. You can’t help loving her for the idiot kid she was, wearing a flowered garter and singing folk songs; you can’t help loving her for the flawed, gorgeous broad she turned into, foul-mouthed, tired, sarcastic and perfect, perfect, perfect.

But beautiful women should not have to get old, and me either. This morning I found three new lines under my left eye, so faint you can barely see them, parallel and evenly-spaced. I look like I got in a fight with a tiny, pissed-off cat. I hope to god I age like this city. She’s angry about the whole thing and so am I. You all run off to whatever you think the new scene is. In fifty years San Francisco and I will still be sitting at the kitchen table chain-smoking and cackling, telling each other dirty stories about all your bad little habits. You can cover me in crow’s feet and cat scratch wrinkles, bald shiny heat waves and bus exhaust, and I will still be sexy as hell.

In conclusion, here is me battling Captain Hook on our recent trip.


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