Why does it still seem like only yesterday, unless it was, though it was not, that I was dodging random nitwits and dog shit one step at a time, inching my way progressively forward in a snarky line that started on Polk St. in San Francisco and ended butt up against a brick wall on one way O’Farrell? I had been merely aspiring to possess a delicious banh mi without the need for a long range strategic planner to fall upon, not even concerned with a secure location at which I would pause to tenderly consume my pork, sanctified and dripping, when I was snatched, grabbed, mangled, entangled, and spun smoothly like a dreidel by slick Gavin Newsom, the reigning Lt Guv of California?
I said, “Whoa, fucking whoa.”
I reiterated to myself, silently, though no less deadly, no matter who claimed to be whom in whose masquerade, keep your manicured nails inside the holster, Mr. Highfalutin Lt. Guv. And maintain a decent distance, why don’t ya? That concealed object sticking out of your sharp pants may be hazardous to healthy hygiene practices. I don’t need no fucking snags right now to spoil the crease in my inner boxer linings.
Sizing up my deep desire to stay disenfranchised, he countered, “Put it there, bro. No risk involved. You can call me Loot.”
I briefly considered what verdict under what law came up on what side of the smooth dreidel. His outstretched paw was the size of a catcher’s mitt.
“I can’t shake with this viral itch that consumes me,” I proclaimed, “And I chronically don’t vote due to sanctimonious reasoning.”
His radiant smile set off the internal Geiger counter I try to carry in close proximity. I felt a chill case of hypothermia from a stout gale wind coming on strong. It was lucky for me I was wearing cool shades after midnight. The smile was plastered into place by a pre-primed semi-gloss enamel, and his lustrous hair gleamed like a vein of anthracite coal in Kentucky. The waxy lips were thick with a luminous polish that mesmerized as he spoke. Before I knew it, that wasn’t just the same old me being me standing there. If you don’t believe I was rendered confoundingly dumbstruck, then the context in which I often declare what the fuck loses much of its inconsistent meaning.
In my own defense I added, “Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but your chafed neck is turning crimson and making me dizzy.”
“No problemo, bro. Red is a good primary color on me. You’d look good too with the right gear strapped on. I like the trim fit of your jib. I like the ring around your collar. I like the simple square root between your ears. Between you and me we both know your measly vote doesn’t count for diddly. Anyone can kiss a baby and pull a knob while faking a sincere smile. But, you might be a special case. And I sincerely mean that to appear in the best of all possible worlds. You won’t catch me hung on any of those euphemisms for retarded. And I know you know what that means in a real world backdrop. I want your toil and your tears on my team, along with your upside, no squeaky wheels, no sliding back doors, no blood, no exchanges among asses.”
“You wouldn’t just be trying to butt in line, would you? There’s no butting in line. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not asking, I’m telling.”
“Exactly what we need.”
“Take a long, sweet look, bro.”
The letters in the sign above the green door seemed to be vibrating: A U M A. Was that the infamous green door passed down from lore? Is AUMA a new cutting-edge techie brand? What the fuck does it mean? What is happening to me here? I would need to hear it used in a complete sentence to be able to intelligently make up my own mind.
Stubbornly, I declared, “First I’ll need to hear it used in a complete sentence.”
“AUMA is the latest and the greatest new acronym on the block, bro. Major Silicon Valley bucks behind it. You’re not going to beat that racehorse with just any old licking stick. It stands for Adult Use of Marijuana Act. It’s going to be on the ballot in November. I’m going to be running right alongside on the winning ticket for Governor.”
In dumbstruck awe and respect, I whispered, “Legalize it.”
I heard, “That’s the right stuff, bro.”
I said, “Whoa, fucking whoa.” This time I really, really meant it sincerely.
I heard, “Follow me.”
I asked, “Are you going to reveal the secret behind the green door?”
“No problemo, bro.”
I continued to think. Sort of. It was no longer any question. I was born too young to resist the unjust draft as it was formerly usurped by fomenters of endless unrest. I had never previously been enlisted into a cause that for so long maintained an inept public stance and became an embarrassing cliche achieving no result. This might be an opportunity to step up and pretend to be a stellar soldier in an unbalanced war against all sordid zero-sum mental handicapping.
Then, he clinched the deal. It was pretty darn slick of him.
“We have a direct pipeline to the best pork banh mi on Polk St, bro. We have piles of roast pork staying hot and juicy under the table. We have steamed pork galore. We’ve got pork sausages up the wazoo, bro. I know you’ll be convinced by our primo pork meat balls,
“Ooh,” I muttered reverently, “xiu mai.”
“And don’t forget the purest of pork pates. I’m talking fancy cha lua.”
“I believe I might be in then.”
“I’m ready to start counting your number.”
I repeated”Whoa, fucking whoa.” That’s all I had. I felet my wan complexion drained by complexity. I did not know what else to say. I felt drained. But then I took a deep cleansing breath. And I suddenly felt what is was like to become inspired. Not insipid. Had I finally found my true calling? Sort of.
He said, “I can feel your inspiration oozing into the zone, bro. ”
He marched me down dank steps where rent was basement cheap. Cloned worker bees buzzed with purpose. The linoleum smelled as if clandestine fluids had been exchanged in a shared communist beaker.
He repeated, “Can’t beat it with a stick.”
Clearly, he needed a better speech writer, one who could explain the difference between inspired and insipid. I could do that. Stuff some subjects and predicates in with obscure images, flash a bunch of big words, dazzle with illegible fonts. No problemo. I could get the yin twin to help me with all of the technical mumbo-jumbo to appease the fussy apparatchiks. She’s good at making good sense. I did not need her snide middle school teacher to point that out to me during some silly conference when my attention span understandably sagged. I could buy her off easily with the recurring reward of a roast pork banh mi.
Which reminded me how much I still yearned for a delicious banh mi. I began to consider how much longer it was going to take to initial these contracts. Contact with law in any form caused my documented allergies to itch. Would I be tricked again out of the clear blue? What was in these contracts anyway? But then the green door opened wide and I felt redeemed. I could feel that way as seamlessly as any religious zealot faithful to cartoon characters. I did not see the hinges swing but it no longer mattered. The knees began to buckle. The pungent aroma of the pickling brine staggered me, but good. That rice vinegar began to work me over like ironic Mike Tyson on stage. I saw flashing lights and stars.
I said what any worldly man of intelligence would say under such ripe and poignant conditions, “Whoa, fucking whoa.”
The pork behind the green door was something to really see. It was something to really feel. The messianic fragrance turned me into silly putty in my own small hands. I fell down on those knees. I felt saved like a hog at a trough. I tasted the victory. This time for the first time my side was going to win the big one. And reign supreme forever after.