The last closeted gay man in the history of San Francisco jumped off of the Golden Gate Bridge on the day before his sixtieth birthday. It was either that or face his mother again at another awkward party. The silly longshoreman’s cap that was intended to cover his sparsely patterned baldness flew off of his head but his polyester harem pants filled with air, slowed his descent, and cushioned his fall. What could have been, and perhaps should have been according to the thrust of his initially inspired scenario, a precipitous drop ending in a splash and splatter landing that would make for titillating headlines, with all of the ugly ramifications to ensue, turned into a more gradual and less melodramatic decline. He survived, sort of.
The ebb tide carried his partially broken body out to sea. It was dark and foggy and no one of note noticed. The cold water kept the swelling down. The next day he ended up floating into Monterey Bay. The harem pants, which were at one time a vivid ruby red, even when wet, acted as a flotation device as well as a parachute.
That’s where the humpback whale who appeared to be light taupe, unless he was more accurately as a matter of fact dark ecru, spotted him. The still technically gay man was spread-eagled like an irrelevant religious icon, bobbing on a small to moderate 2-4 foot swell, displaying no signs of higher consciousness.
The humpback whale who appeared to be light taupe had just about had it up to his dorsal fin with all of these fucking human carcasses stinking up the joint. Once they had pretty much finished ruining the air and land, the sea became by default their next best big target to destroy. All their plastic made him gag. And polyester, too. That included faux tweeds and woven blends as well. The humpback whale looked forward to the day when they’d concentrate on transporting their consumptive bodies into space. He could see that’s where their smart money was headed. Their smart money as usual was going to make another killing, sort of.
I was paddling a kayak not far away from this deceptive lack of commotion on a calm day with a moderate swell that was about to change. I was suffering from blisters, cramps, and occlusions. Nothing new there. I had caught a fish and I intended to eat it. It was a cod of a sort that I don’t much care for but if I hook it I feel compelled to eat it as a matter of principle, sort of.
And If the humpback whale had not started to sing so melodically like Forest Flower by Charles Lloyd, which sounded so very different to me than his largely atonal norm, which tends toward the more theatrical Sun Ra, I would have been safely at home hacking at cold flesh with a sharp knife in my hand. Or trying to get there.
But, no. I had to be me.
Who was the first American hero of note to brag thoughtlessly about that? Benjamin Franklin? Jesse James? Frank Sinatra? Bart Simpson?
All I know for sure is once again I’m not to blame for what happened next. Being me often includes taking wrong turns, misinterpreting signals, ending up out of bounds. It follows that shit just happens. This time, I was having a funny feeling about I don’t know what well before the fact. Usually, under similar circumstances, I would say the wrong thing if I said anything cogent at all. But, not this time. This time, I paddled hard right into it, straight, no chaser. Distinctly, I felt a bump. It opened my eyes. No bump should logically be floating in the middle of Monterey Bay.
So this time, as a direct result, I said clearly, with no need for outside clarification, “What the fuck.” As all aficionados of irony know by now, it was as much of a statement as a question.
I rarely have correct answers for many of the chronic questions I ask when no one else is around to listen. Usually, I know better than to bother with statements. So, why push it? Even when the tween twins are in residence every other week, and are technically around, they are not listening.
So, what was I supposed to do when suddenly faced with a body that did not belong to me? And where did those flashy pants come from? How did I get into this mess this time? That’s another one of those fucking meddlesome questions. Oh yeah, that’s right, it was because I paddled right into the middle of it. Technically, that is. Sort of. But, still.
How many among us believe deeply that the biggest problem in the world is no one else understands? Not me, for one. Not anymore. Not even when I am being set up to take the fall by a humpback who only appears to be light taupe. Now I understand that the biggest problem in the world is I have to be me. While I am trying my darnedest to get there. Or elsewhere. Somewhere.
I thought that I knew a great deal about contradictions until that day. Then I took in a partially living body that was not mine. What came to my mind next were words that are best left unspoken.
When I returned to the harbor with this dripping body draped across my kayak I was not surprised to see a crowd had gathered. I could hear a few cheers along with many hisses and boos. For what, I’ll never know. I think maybe it’s for the best that way.
A local cop with whom I was getting too familiar if not close while engaged as a traitor to my species in the war against the human enablers of treacherous cats who murder beautiful birds cuffed me with a sigh of resignation, as if he was the one being cuffed, and he said, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you.”
But, I already knew that. Just as he knew I had nothing to say. Sort of.