No, that title is not just an exercise in shameless alliteration, it's just another small dose of wretched reality aboard the 48 Quintara yesterday afternoon.
So the Güero is on Mission St, on his home way from running an errand when he(I)decide to get a library card at the Mission Branch Library. I try to glom a copy of Chuck Palahniuk's "Choke", but shit-on-a-stick...it's already been checked out and is already on hold. I check nextmuni.com on my beat-up Blackberry and it looks like I've got about two minutes before the 48 arrives. Cool!
I get to the bus and hop on after a latina mom and her young hijos with Happy-Meal Kung Fu pandas. The bus driver is a perky young black woman and greets everyone. But no sooner after I leave her presence, there are two passengers going at it...just verbally abusing each other from across the aisles. First the Old Pink Lady, she's white and as stated, old. She's wearing big glasses, faded pink cap and equally faded pink track suit. A big-ass tote bag sits on her lap and she's got one of those metal walking canes with the four prongs on the end. She's says to the other passenger,"...you should watch out for my cane!"
Now, the other passenger..he's quite a sight...and his companion? Where do I even begin?...Joel and Ethan Cohen could not have created such exaggerated characters. He's a big white guy in his his 50's wearing a 49er cap, wrap-around sunglasses and sporting a thick Mike Ditka mustache. He's got to be a tourist. His companion...she's the same age, maybe older. She looks like Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman...if Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman were dragged by a Ford pick-up truck for six blocks. Anyway, she's wearing this blood-red Strawberry Shortcake type hat, a patch skirt and these funky striped socks with open toe sandals. OK...you've got the picture. So he hollers back," I guess that's just typical of you FUCKING CITY PEOPLE!!!!" Oh no he DITN'T! Oh yes...he did.
The perky black bus driver chimes in politely, "Now. now. You two...that's enough...settle down!"
But it's too late, the old pink broad is REALLY pissed off, " So that's how it is, is it? Then why don't you just go the FUCK back to wherever the hell you came from. FUCKING Asshole!"
The driver pleads with them again. There are kids everywhere on the bus. Some people are laughing, including the neo-hippies, surprisingly, in the front who have kids. One of them, the infant, is sucking happily on his hippy mother's teet. Hey the Güero's got no problem with that, he's liberal minded.
So the man relents and mutters something to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The old pink lady quietly pulls out and opens up a pulp romance novel that she probably bought at the Salvation Army for a quarter. Now, I have no idea what precipitated that vitriolic exchange but all seemed to be well again... until we got to South Van Ness.
Through the window, I see two SFPD beat cops talking to some punky latin teenager. The bus stops, the kid gets on board and says rather loudly, regarding one of officers,"FUCKING FAGGOT"!
The neo-hippies start laughing hysterically again. I'm thinking to myself...do people not have any qualms about cursing like a sailor in the presence of others, who you don't know. One thing the Güero has always said is, "know your audience!" Call me old school, but what happened to the days when people looked over their shoulder or whispered before offering up an offensive or racist comment. Now don't get me wrong I'm not condoning racism, or sexual orientation-ism. If you are offended however, that means I failed in trying to be cleverly ironic and satirical. For that, I apologize. If you understood and are still perturbed, then you are a humorless half-wit who should lighten up or go read someone else's posts. The question I ask, however, is why do people just talk out loud and say anything they feel like as if they are in their living room or mom's house? Has freedom of speech become an excuse for people to showcase their ignorance and hostility for ALL to experience?
My fellow neo-hippies passengers seemed to take it in stride but I didn't. Thankfully, the Güero was goin' solo and didn't have his son with him on this particular occasion but I would hate for him to have experience the careless and unrepentant ugliness on display. I'm not naive, I was born and raised in the Mission after all and I have witnessed more crude and horrendous acts committed by frightening youths aboard the 9 San Bruno. But why has that become ok?
Perhaps, I just expect too much as I have been living far too comfortably the quiet suburbs of San Diego.
These days, I'm not in the Mission by choice. It's more like the lesser of choices but I'm beginning think I may have, yet again, chosen the wrong path. I mean how I can raise my son in this place? All the wi-fi cafes, hip restaurants, and culture can't hide the all the litter that blows freely though the streets like tumbleweeds, nor do they belie the fact that the Mission is still a dangerous place where too many folks have no respect for themselves or one another.
But I'm tryin' hard Ringo, I'm trying real hard to come to terms with my environment, to find and focus on the things that make me feel hopeful about the human condition, my own personal situation and about my son growing up in the midst of urban cruelty and sidewalks that reek of urine. Until then, the Güero just has to suck it up and watch his back here in Tom Ammiano's Mission district...maybe I'll just go get a quesadilla suiza at El Farolito. Now that makes me happy!
-the Güero, 7/29/2008