Cole Valley seems to be populated by a sizable faction of urban professionals who can kindly be described as Gavin Newsom voters, and can less kindly be referred to as smug, elitist fuckheads. I do my best to ignore these people, living by a maxim I once overheard while working at the docks (“Whatever floats your fuckin’ boat, motherfucker.”). The intent of this quote, as passed from one day laborer to another, was less benign. But the basic principle still holds water.
Despite my willful avoidance, these people accost me. They approach me as I’m scribbling shit down in a notebook. Or if I’m walking up to the Haight. I dress prgamtic. A shirt and blue jeans. Sometimes a T-shirt. And, yes, I wear a pair of Timberlands, but fuck you. How the hell was I supposed to know that these were au courant couture at the Great Mall of America? All I know is that I went to the shoestore and found a fairly robust pair to serve my needs. And then I started seeing the ads every Sunday in the New York Times Magazine. Goddammit.
I wear glasses. But some days I forget to shave. Outside of a receding hairlilne, there is nothing about me that says “yuppie scum.” Or so I believe.
Tonight, as I was walking up Cole, it happened again. Shortly after a homeless man, trundling north with a sleeping bag on his shoulder, asked me for change (my wallet was exhausted of cash and I apologized), I overheard another man behind me, a Cole Valleyite, a thirtyish man who had shaved his pate to disguise the fact that he had no hair on top, sporting some sort of bullshit L.L. Bean chamois. Cole Valley was trying to “understand” this man, but not giving him a damn thing in the way of change or compassion. His right, of course. Judging by the slow gait and the weary expression, the homeless guy had seen it all. But then Cole Valley started kvetching to the homeless guy about how many times he was panhandled on any given day.
Then the following conversation went down:
COLE VALLEY: Did you hear what I said to that guy?
ED: [ignoring him]
COLE VALLEY: I said, did you hear what I said to him? Goddam. Fuck. Biggest headache living in this City is how many times I get panhandled.
ED: The biggest headache in this City is that no one has the plan or the wherewithal to do something for the homeless.
COLE VALLEY: That bleeding heart liberal I was nineteen, twenty, he’s dead.
ED: No remnants?
COLE VALLEY: Fuck that, man. You live here long enough, you get wise. You and Michael Moore are so fucking clueless, you know that?
ED: Michael Moore doesn’t speak for me, man.
COLE VALLEY: If I lived in any other city, I’d be a liberal. Here I’m a conservative. Anti-death penalty and I’m a conservative. This is the greatest fucking country in the world.
ED: I hear you.
COLE VALLEY: You know what Howard Stern says about Michael Moore? He says he’s a left-wing Limbaugh with worse hygiene. [walking away]
If I was still a brash, choleric twenty-two, I would have beat the shit out of him. But not today. Let the guy walk away. Because one day, if he talks like that with the wrong person listening, his mouth is going to get him into some major trouble.