2002-05-22 10:10 a.m.
A few weeks ago, I decided that it would be a good idea to spend the weekend with Tollef Biggs and see where that brought me.
We spent Saturday doing the normal things people do in San Francisco, which is shop on Haight Street and watch drunk, homeless people try to get in fist fights with street signs, passersby, and whatever else. Shopping, of course, was as fun as shopping always is. YES! It feels good to drive the capitalist machine! Actually, we did lots of browsing and very little actual purchasing. We looked at scores of shoes and clothes that would have looked great on someone else, and I bought a green, hardshell backpack to replace my identical–but–considerably–damaged green, hardshell backpack which had recently fallen off the roof of Andie's van at 50 MPH.
Buying the backpack was a very good choice on my part. Little did I know, but it was my lucky day: The store had a special that day where anyone who purchased a green, hardshell backpack gets one FREE packet of silica gel! It was like Quest for Fire, The Ten Commandments, and The Gods Must be Crazy all wrapped up into one majestic scene as this glorious, magical packet collided with our lives.
So many shoe stores, so many second–hand stores, so many twenty–somethings behind the registers sporting expensive dyed hair and fashionably–destroyed clothes. The mind grows weary, and they start to all look the same. Stunned by the hyperstimulation of it all, we had no idea we were about to walk into a store that would change our lives forever. Or for fifteen minutes. Not that there is any real difference between forever and fifteen minutes.
It began so innocently: We walked into the huge second–hand shop and stopped in the skinny tie section to peruse the selection when I noticed they were playing the song "Wild Thing" over the store's stereo. Was this some sort of joke? I could not believe that people would play this song—this song which has become a caricature of itself, the song which puts the cliché in cliché—without it being an intentional slapstick joke, the sort of joke where the funny clown holds up the cue sign that says "laughter". Carefully choking back my tears of laughter at this situation, I managed to squeak out some words to Tollef. "Hey, dude," I paused and looked up, as if to show with my eyes that I was trying hard to recognize and discern the sounds coming from the speakers hidden in the ceiling, "um, what song is this?" There was a short pause where we both kept straight faces, and then we exploded in peals of laughter. But, the moment was not over. We knew what had to happen next. I should actually march up to the front of the store and ask the girl behind the counter what song it was.
In order to pull this off, I knew I would have to keep a straight face. I tried to think about un–funny subjects—"mature" porn, baseball, taxes, the McNeil–Lehrer News Hour, Saturday Night Live, and cancer—but it hardly helped. Breathe, Justin, breathe. I thought my face was going to tear apart as I approached the purple–haired, independent–rock–and–roll girl working the cash register. "Can I help you?" she asked. Somehow, against all that felt holy and right, I managed to lie, "Yeah, um, I was wondering what song is playing right now."
And then I promise you that time stood still. For an indivisibly tiny unit of time, my mind was kissed with clarity to comprehend the magnitude of what was happening around me. What. Was. She. Going. To. Do. Next? Tension and suspense filled my lungs and dissipated into my veins. The scene felt like that impossible Man Ray photograph which captured Salvador Dalí, many gallons of loose water, and a cat, flying through a room, all hanging suspended in mid–air. The mind was torn in half by the two dizzying implications: 1) Can such a reality as what I am perceiving right now possibly exist, and, 2) can even the most powerful mind begin to predict what might happen next?
My eyes longed to weep rivers of irony and joy at what happened next. She walked back to the CD player. She rifled through two or three jewel cases, picked one up, read something, put it back down, and turned to me, "The song is called Wild Thing and it's by, um, The Troggs."
My mouth hung wide open but no words came out as my mind frantically tried to process what had just happened. Dizzy, jaw–dropped, and speechless—I was paralyzed.
She looked at me as if expecting some response like a thank–you or an ok. After I blinked my eyes in amazement a few more times and regained enough mental acuity to exert control over my hanging jaw, I begged her to explain what just happened, "Are you kidding? I mean, of course the song was Wild Thing. I mean, did you really think I didn't know this song?" What happened next was the real–life equivalent of when the light bulb turns on above someone's head in a cartoon. And as the light blinked bright, she appeared as if she might actually explode as she simultaneously tried to laugh at the whole thing, explained how she seriously gets asked what song is playing all the time, and told me to fuck off all at the same time.
We ended up chatting a bit after that, and she turned out to be sarcastic, funny, and tattooed, so I decided I liked her. She was a good sport, so I gave her a bunch of my offensive buttons and got her address so I could send her some autographed HT pics.
After shopping a bit more, it was soon time to head to Japan Town to have dinner with Dave and Ray. In some ways, it was an ordinary Japanese–food dinner with Dave and Ray—tasty, adventurous, expensive, and also expensive. But, what made this meal special was that we ordered something which translated to mean, "a plate of 1" wide, cooked mini–crabs". When they arrived, arranged in a circle around the perimeter of a decorated plate with a dipping sauce in the middle, I thought, Oh, maybe they are soft–shelled crabs? No, no. They were definitely of the not soft variety of crab. Oh, maybe they are, um...WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS? Choptsticks, crab, mouth, biting, crunching, laughter. They were small, crunchy, and most of all, extremely comical to eat. There is something very satisfying, empowering, decadent, and naughty about eating an entire animal in one bite. The crunchy sound they made as our teeth defeated their tiny shells was like icing on a perfect cake.
The four of us had some time to kill, so Tollef and I decided to do something which we had not done for at least an hour. Go shopping. So, Dave, Ray, Tollef, and I squeezed ourselves into Tollef's Scirocco and sped across town to Banana Republic in search of gratuitous photos of Tollef without his shirt on. And, within minutes of our arrival, we found exactly what we were looking for!
It had been a long day, and what better way to wind down than with a late–night, crazy, underground RAVE full of teenagers and candy–accessories! I considered writing about said "rave", but Tollef really said it best here.
PREVIOUS ENTRY - NEXT ENTRY