At a crucial plot moment, the cute boy sitting two up from me, also at the cinemas alone, stretches out across multiple seats. His hand falls into space not far from mine. The light from the screen illuminates the back of his hand. I study it. I like hands. This is a nice hand. Good tendons, veins, generously spaced knuckles. Occupied this way, I miss several important plot points.
I shake myself and concentrate. George and Jennifer Lopez get together, fall apart, face complex moral issues, resolve them. Roll credits. The cute boy has fallen asleep. I touch the hand. No response. I hold it and shake it. Nice hand. He blinks sleepily and looks up at me. Nice eyes. "It wasn't that bad, was it?" I ask him. He smiles. Nice smile. Hmm. I move on out.
I walk down to the bus stop. San Francisco at night; cool, black, with big orange streetlights oozing glare and city views from unexpected angles. As people get on the bus, the driver helps a man off.
I sit next to two boys about my age. One, green-eyed, sandy-haired, says "Did the driver just throw that guy off the bus?" "No," says the other, big, bald. "He'd fallen asleep and the driver knew this was his stop." "That's so cool," says Sandy. "Isn't it?" says Bald Boy. "I should tell these lies more often. Now I've made your night."
They discuss drivers doing good deeds. Sandy caught the BART early one morning and the driver read passages from Yeats. Bald Boy holds up his book: John Banville. "Another Irishman." "Say, have you read any Pynchon?" asks Sandy. "Yeah, I don't like him much, he's too clever-clever," says Bald Boy.
"But Vineland is wonderful," I say. The both stare at me. How about that! A talking fish!
"It's wordy," says Bald Boy. "Wordy, schmordy," I say. "Joyce is wordy. Wordy is good." Sandy is mine, all mine. "What would you recommend for someone who hasn't read any Pynchon?" he asks, big-eyed. "The Crying of Lot 49," I say. "Hmmph," says Bald Boy, smiling, "That's what all the Pynchon bigots recommend."
"Say, if you like Pynchon and Joyce, you'll love Proust," says Sandy. "This is my stop," I say apologetically. I leave them on the late night 33 to Bernal Heights, still discussing Proust.
I call Jeremy, play with the cat, curl up in bed. I dream I'm in a car chase. I'm on a Vespa and my trusty sidekick, a distributed intelligence inhabiting the bodies of six glossy-haired gender-ambiguous teens, is driving and hanging out the windows of a Winnebago. We zoom up the Santa Monica boardwalk, take a hard left through Lawrence Hall of Science and head out across a glacial valley, the green grass sewn with dandelions, snow-capped peaks sharp in the distance against a bland blue sky.