Smoking Section, part 35-b
This story takes place in 1997. I remember 1997 quite well as it lasted almost a full year.
I was briskly strolling through the little-known town of San Francisco. It was about noon, as evidenced by the vertical angle of the sun, the vertical angle of the street dwellers near the corner alley, and the vertical angle of the hands on my watch face. Though my watch was somewhat harder to observe as I’d left it in Denver. However I’d left my heart somewhere around this city, at least according to the latest rumor playing on KROQ (Home of the Hits!).
A man walked by dressed entirely in wrappings of yellow and pink yarn. He has no bearing on the story but I wanted to include him for local color. Specifically, those colors are local to the Haight District. Not to be confused with the Hate District, a much rougher and less pleasant part of town. Undaunted – because who needs daunts? – and undented – thanks to some quick stepping to avoid a traffic accident – I proceeded down the street.
Meanwhile, in the story such as it is/was (choose applicable grammar depending on whether you’re reading this in the future), I came to realize I had need of food, it being lunchtime and me being without a lunch. It was a very distinct and pressing need. Fortunately, one end of the need was soft and rubberized with a molded grip, so the pressing was not too painful. I always like them with rubberized grips so that I’m better able to handle my needs.
Fortunately I spotted a man selling sandwiches in a local pawn shop. He seemed to have every variety of sandwich conceivable! They were laid out on the counter, stacked in a little scratchy-hazy-plastic display case, tucked on a side table, bulging from nearby shelves, and stuffed into crevices near the rafters.
“Ham and cheddar,” I said.
“How did you know my name was Hammond?”
“I didn’t. But I’ll still take the sandwich.”
“Oh, right. Hold on.” He turned to an old set of metal filing cabinets. “Got all of the cheddar ones in here.” His hand wavered uncertainly across the faces of all the drawers labeled “C”. Finally he gave a decisive tug and a drawer full of wrapped sandwiches reeled out.
He pulled a plump and ripe one from the pile. We haggled a bit over price and then concluded the transaction in the traditional way by exchanging money virtually and wishing each other a good day insincerely.
It was a decent sandwich. It was not one of the great sandwiches that sets a new standard in sandwichcraft, defining it’s own realm of culinary balance and eating satisfaction. I failed to fall to my knees, weeping at the beauty of the sandwich’s divinity, it being the archetype and Platonic ideal of which other sandwiches were merely shadows. It was kind of bland, actually, despite the aged cheddar.
The point of the story being, if I were to retroactively sharpen it and introduce a point, that it’s sometimes good to pack a lunch. Also that San Francisco is a little bit weird. But these are hardly new concepts to you, I’m sure.
[written in Dubai airport, at around 3am (body time), Oct 2013]