Dec 6, 2007

Old Valentinos

We are, so to speak, at a little restaurant around the corner from the public television station. In the Mission District. This is the 'faux mission". What was once Latino has become Valentino. What was once a VW community garage is now a sushi bar. What was once a city is now a trendy boutique. Once dangerous, now trite, mealy- mouthed and whiny.

Sure enough look out the window and watch the trendy blue eyes walk on by, upshot hair on older slackers rising to the moon. Youthy folks on the prowl. Meanwhile, we're in tears, aren't we. We can't believe the city has come to this.

The restaurant, itself, is less a la mode than a year ago (this is what I hear, I can't say, I don't think I was ever here), yet still people like to pay for 16-inch white plates, each with a little fist of food. The menu is rodente al dente: rabbit loins, squirrel tips, fish tits. The place is done up in industrial androgyny, cement floors, phosphorescent blue light over the bar, metal chairs. Everything as though on a screen.

And over there, so to speak, there are these three men. Furtive Fifties, low sixties. In a cloud bank, so to speak. Black t-shirts, leather jackets. Drinking vodka and tequilla. Gray not gay, nor particularly metro sexual. What would you call that? One has long hair. Another has a perpetual smile. The third looks anxiety-ridden, torn. They're talking about their wives and girl friends. Several times you hear the word, "bitch".

They're stragglers from Glenda Jackson days, from the old British cinema verite, the old Bore wars, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Then, men were leaning forward, they were hitting out, even their women, they were crude and could care less. Now men are on their hind legs, caught in the prison spot light, cornered and splayed out.

"She's such a bitch," one is saying. "But I'm sure she'd like to see me dead as well."

Stories follow, proofs, clarification and lies. 'Women are always wanting. Men are always giving.' That women feel the same way about men is no matter. These men are tired. They need women but more and more in theory. Yes, why not? Theoretical women, who are wondrous, exotic and erotic. That nothing has changed is devastating.

Men have grown so frail, haven't they? The pioneer blood is below the minimum, and they can't climb to the top of masts the way they used to do. When they finally do, up like very old spiders, they look down and there are the women saying, 'yes, but can you clean the sheets not just open them....' 'Can you extend the yard arm a little?' 'Can you catch the albatross?' 'Can you Errol-Flynn me?' 'Do you see the island of my content?' 'Can you make it all burn off and go away and come home and go away and provide more of this and that....

Meanwhile, the waitress comes and goes. They're having another round. There are schedules to keep. Children are waiting. Ex wives are waiting. Current wives and lovers are waiting. The show has to go on. And here they are back stage, the men, putting on their costumes for Act IV. Flagstaffs and old Hamlets, older MacBeths. Kings fiddling with their crowns, longing for their horses. Flying on their petards.

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