And then am I really expected to thank someone for god blessing my sneeze? Come on. What if I rattle off another three or four? You going to keep it up and am I supposed to thank you for each? Talk about pandora’s box. And don't think for a second that you can get away with a gesundheit. Just because you've made it secular and ethnic doesn't make it okay. Can we just agree to ignore other peoples sneezes beyond perhaps offering a hanky if one is needed?
Hanky. There's a word you don't hear very often anymore. What a disgusting notion. You blow your nose into some cloth than stick said item into your pocket. Then maybe you get it out later and let go again. Perfect it's back in your pocket. People even hawk loogies into hankies. I suppose your hanky is more environmentally friendly than a wad of tissues. But at what cost? Yer carrying around germs for crissakes.
And here's something else that's new. Used to be that when you had to sneeze you just let go. Not anymore fella. You've got to sneeze into your arm. Supposed to do the Dracula move. Great, now you've got snot on your jacket or shirt. Because a sneeze into thin sir is really going to start the next influenza epidemic? I call bullshit. But I’m stuck with it. I start sneezing into the atmosphere and I’m suddenly a crude thoughtless asshole. Enough with this.
Today I took the trolley to the Ferry Building during my lunch hour to make a purchase for the wife’s forthcoming birthday. The trolley I took back only went as far as Pier 39 as sometimes happens so I had to walk the rest of the way to the school where I render my services. The walk took me through the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf.
During tourist season.
Places like Fisherman’s Wharf were created and are maintained for the sole purpose of separating people from their hard earned dollars. There are shops aplenty with all manner of junk that no one need and often never think to buy until they see it. Like the tee shirt that says: "will trade my wife for beer" or the one that says "will trade my husband for wine." Yokels actually stop and guffaw at this sort of thing. Tourist traps cater to the lowest common denominator in our society just as television and the film industry generally do.
Imagine if literature and intelligent cinema and local craft fares and farmer’s markets and sustainable gardens and organic food and theatrical productions and poetry were promoted a third as much as fast food restaurants or chain stores or super hero movie sequels or tourist traps. Maybe we’d have far fewer overweight men in Donald Duck tee shirts walking around slurping diet colas and taking photos of Aunt Bess and Little Emmy in front of the wax museum. Maybe if the dollar didn't rule popular culture we'd have more reasoned debates and more sophisticated tastes and fewer guys like that fella over there....
He's coming out of a McDonalds eatery emitting a belch. His family is in tow. He’s Todd Lichen from Kansas City, Missouri. Todd’s large belly pushes against his tee shirt and makes his legs look skinnier than they are. His fat has settled in his stomach and face which has a baseball cap shading it. Todd is with Linda — that’s his wife — their 12 year old daughter, Sarah and nine year old boy, Alex. Sarah is bored by everything and hates those moments when she’s not looking at her cell phone. Alex is excited, as is generally the case. He’s a bit portly already and spends too much time watching TV and playing video games but Todd and Linda don’t mind too much because he’s good boy and shows promise as a student. Sarah’s not much of a student right now but they figure that its just a phase because she can write really well and her teacher’s have always liked her. Linda likes being a stay-at-home mom. She always has plenty of projects around the house to keep her busy plus she’s got to look after her parents who are getting on especially now that her sister Lynette is divorced and raising four kids on her own oh and Linda helps her out too plus she volunteers down at the animal shelter once a week. Todd is a building inspector and the pay is pretty good and with what his folks left them they’re doing all right and even have some money invested. Todd’s brother Kirk is an investment counselor and he helped set them up.
Plus Todd likes to see his dollar being spent in country and for example always buys an American car. He loves the country its been real good to him and his family as it has been to millions and millions of others. Todd sure can’t imagine any better what with all the freedoms and such, not that he’s ever tried.
Todd is just as happy to eat lunch in a fast food place and have dinner at an Olive Garden or some other place that’s familiar. Food is food in his book and why spend a lot of money on some fancy place? There’s a real nice steakhouse near where they live that they go to once a month or so but other than that the chains are just fine. Todd figures his health can’t be too bad him not smoking and being only 43 and only occasionally having so much as a beer. He gets vegetables and fruit in his diet when he can, Linda sees to that.
As for travel Todd is real happy to go on tours and see what other tourists see. He thought their trip to Alcatraz this morning was real interesting or as he says it, inner esting. They took a lot of pictures and he's only sorry Sara looked so bored but what can you do kids are what they are. He’s looking forward to seeing the Golden Gate Bridge up close. Just like he got a kick out of seeing the Statue of Liberty last Summer and Mount Rushmore the Summer before that and the Alamo three years back etc.
Linda wants to go see the Castro District that’s so famous for all the gays that hang out there but Todd isn’t sure its such a good idea. He may have Linda take Sara there tomorrow while him and the boy go look at the ballpark where the Giants play. He never understood about the gays and why they make such a big fuss about what they are not that he cares one way or the other just so long as they don’t bother him or his family. Todd’s not much into politics though he doesn’t like paying taxes and would like to see em cut. He also wants to be damn sure that the government doesn’t try taking his guns because he’s big on the second amendment and believes everyone else should be too because its part of the American heritage or whatever. Though he doesn’t remember much of his school history Todd is real sure that the founders meant for everyone to have their own gun and he won’t hear of anything different on the subject. Other than that Todd stays out of current event type discussions, he’s got enough to concern himself what with his job and the family and of course football which he loves and other sports which he likes though not basketball so much. Todd enjoys nothing more in the world than plunking himself down in his easy chair to watch a game or whatever ESPN is talking about if no game is on. Linda and the kids have other shows they like to watch which is why there’s a TV in the playroom and another in the master bedroom.
But so anyway Todd has a tooth pick working out some pieces of meat and he’s ready to do whatever else is on the agenda he can’t remember what though Linda will know. Linda is a good wife. Todd doesn’t even pay much notice the fact that her looks have faded pretty fast and she’d kind of filled out in ways you wouldn’t want. Linda hasn’t paid much attention to things like new clothes (for herself) and make up since Sara was born. Those days are over for her and she barely looks in a mirror anymore. Todd loves Linda with all his heart but physical passion is no longer in the cards not that it matters, both of them are generally too tired by the time they go to bed anyway.
Linda reaches into her purse for their “agenda.” Todd can’t fathom how Linda’s purse can have seemingly everything and anything in it. Tissues, bandages, gum, tweezers, tylenol, cough drops, addresses, maps, lip stick, keys, candy bars, twisties, rubber bands, pens, anything you’d need on any occasion in any emergency. Sometimes Todd kids her asking does she have a canned ham in there in case they get hungry. Todd is a kidder all right. He likes a good laugh and he enjoys giving people a hard time about this or that.
Finally as he's wondering off thinking of nothing, just looking, Linda reminds him they’re going to where they catch the cable car and that sounds real interesting. Inner esting.
Me. I’m getting the hell out of the commercial wharf area and into my building. I’ve got work to do.