I spent the past weekend in San Francisco dropping in on conversations and watching people. It’s a bad habit. I justify my questionable behavior by telling myself that I’m an observer of human nature, and that it’s OK. I find people fascinating, and the writer me relishes in completing their story. I liken it to playing piano scales or Sudoku. The practice of instantaneous creativity keeps me nimble on the blank page.
As with any pub-crawl, we started the day hitting the more glamorous sites in San Francisco. By the end of the night, we were in the pub singing with the sailors and thinking we were shoe-ins for American Idol. But during the day and before the world grew hazy from too many libations, I remembered to make notes.
Sometimes the writer in me stumbles upon some juicy stuff.
Convo 1: No words, only pensive stares:
At the first stop—the swank bar in the Fairmont Hotel—the well-dressed couple sitting across from one another were drinking martinis, and not talking. She was looking off in the distance, while he watched her intently. I imagined he was wondering if she was having an affair. The furrowed brows and the rueful expression in his eyes made he think he was asking himself if she had stopped loving him.
At the wine bar in the Ferry building, a stern looking, hefty woman with tattoos on her arms, sat atop the barstool reapplying her lipstick. She scowled at her reflection in the compact as her smacked her lips. She looked up at the man sitting across from her and said, “Sometimes I wish I looked different, you know, less me and more like someone…else…” She paused. I assumed she was waiting for him to respond. Since I couldn’t hear what he said, I imagined him to be thinking, If you only smiled more often you’d would be beautiful, but you’re never content. You’re always unhappy and nitpicking. You make me crazy half the time. Sometimes I wish we weren’t married.
“If I get Alzheimer’s, shoot me,” said the well-preserved woman to a younger identical version of herself.
“Will do,” the younger woman eagerly replied with fists clenched and thumbs pointed upward while wearing a mischievous grin.
On my writer’s easel, I see the two women spending the rest of the afternoon slipping in and out of bars talking to people they happen upon, listening to conversations they are not part of, and filling in the missing pieces of the fragmented conversations. All the while, they continuing discussing the mother’s inevitable dance with illness and death.
At a Tapas bar on Geary, an amazonish looking woman with lavish red locks said with a heavy French accent to the somber looking man sitting on her right. “I do love you…very much, but I like having sex with other people. Can you understand this…”
I nearly fell off my chair straining to hear the man’s response, but heard nothing as the remaining conversation played out in hushed tones.
On the imaginary page, the thoroughly modern woman strummed her fingers on the tabletop, clearly agitated having to have this conversation with her lover–again. I was upfront when we started sleeping together—with me there can never be expectations—I am yours forever more, but I have needs you cannot meet. Take me as I am or not at all.
Convo 5: And the most amusing conversation, I heard was at the pub…
“Becka called me last night in a panic and told me Jerry tried getting into bed with her. She said she woke up when he nuzzled up alongside her and started to nibble at her neck,” the thirty-something wearing a Giants baseball cap said between gulps of his pint of Guinness. “How she got his hotel key and not mine…
There were stories in all vignettes, but this particular one took flight. I see Becka’s story unfolding.