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Laundry girl

29 May

Laundry girl

The laundromat in the Mission was hell, but it was also my private escape. The one down the street from my old apartment has terrible cell reception, no internet, and walls the color of congealed French’s mustard. Aside from a few flyers for yoga and writing classes, the only other decor is a wobbly table and two plastic lawn chairs. I sat in one of those chairs a while back while the machines did their thing. Every time I do laundry, I bring a notebook and try to eke out something creative. This time around, I brought art supplies for a new project: a photograph, tracing paper, a fine-point marker, and a blue pencil. I’d just put my things out when a mother and her two children came in to move their clothes from washers to dryers.

“A question in Spanish,” the woman said to her daughter as she stopped her son’s stroller next to her. “Something about soap and clothing that Annie can infer from her limited knowledge of Romance languages.”

“Si, Mami,” the girl said. As her mother hauled a family’s damp clothing out of the washers, the girl sat down at the table next to me. I smiled at her and she tucked her head away shyly, the way seven-year-old girls do. From a backpack she plucked a pencil, Xeroxed multiplication exercises, and a large pink eraser. Her homework was halfway done. (more…)

Uh, said the lady to the lady

28 Jul

Uh, said the lady to the lady

Earlier this week, upon looking at my dingy white bath towels, it occurred to me that they may be sending the wrong message. Most people, upon seeing big brown streaks muddying up the white cotton, would probably not think, “Ah, I bet Annie had a clumsy mishap with self-tanner, and her towels are stained as a result.” Instead, they probably think, “That Annie sure does have a big ass. Just look at the size of those skid marks.” Which is ludicrous, because as everybody knows, girls don’t poop. (more…)

In a minute

22 Jun

In a minute

The other night, I was waiting for the cable car at Powell. About 15 tourists were ahead of me in line. The wait wasn’t bad, mostly because a man sang Otis Redding songs for change while we waited. The woman in front of me was watching a squirming toddler; she might have been a neighbor or nanny, but she definitely wasn’t the boy’s mother. (OK, maybe she could have been, but very few sixty-something Asian women are adopting Nordic-looking babies these days.)

The rascal was whipping around in joyful little circles, darting in and out of line. If I’d pulled that sort of rowdy behavior at his age, Betty would have doled out a warning, and I would have stopped. This is not what happened. The woman seemed only vaguely engaged in watching him, and when she asked the boy to stop, he ignored her. See, this is why you don’t plead with toddlers to do something; they need to understand that there’s a right way to behave, and part of that involves being a loving dictatorial type when it comes to teaching social norms. It rankles me when I hear adults defer to someone who’s yet to master the art of using a toilet. I’m all for respecting children as individuals, but there’s a reason toddlers need caretakers, you know? (more…)

We’re your arch-nemesises-ses

9 May

We’re your arch-nemesises-ses

So I have an enemy, and he is often at the coffee shop. He’s insufferable, but I’m glad he exists because it’s fun to pretend that we have an ongoing rivalry. This dude, who is cleverly referred to as “my nemesis,” is the Mr. Corduroy of 2010.

Here is why he is my nemesis. Maybe a year ago, we were seated next to each other. I was writing something while he was holding a book in a way that suggested he wanted everyone to see the title. He struck up conversation and was leering a little bit, but he was intelligent and I’m trying to not be a harpy to strangers. So we talked. (more…)

Morning Doonan night

5 May

Morning Doonan night

Whenever you see a dapper man on the train, there’s a 50/50 chance that he works at Barneys. San Francisco lads generally dress casually, so when I saw two stylish men board the train at Powell, I assumed they got the Barneys employee discount.

I kept my eye on the one in the suit, mostly because he was standing in front of me and his belt was eye level. (Awkward.) The suit wasn’t by Hedi Slimane*, but it was clearly influenced by him: slim trousers and a matching jacket done up in a subtle gray-on-gray pattern, with a crisp white button-front shirt and a black bow tie. Mr. Suit had rowdy freckles swirled around his face, and a studied scruffy beard. He and his colleague were talking about work, and it took only a minute or two for my employment assumption to be proven correct. (The colleague had been written up for some sort of retailing faux pas.)

Mr. Suit was talking about his style icons, and he was playing it cool at first. Then he started gushing about Sean Young, and it was all over. “I mean, she’s the ultimate nerdy gay boy fantasy,” he said gleefully before rushing into a detailed filmography replete with trivia. His friend smiled politely, but one suspected that he had never seen Dune, much less the sci-fi dork rambling on about cyborg this and Blade Runner that. He couldn’t have been more enthusiastically geeky. For a moment, I glimpsed the little boy hiding inside a $1500 suit, and he made me happy.

*(Did you know that The Jam is one of Hedi Slimane’s favorite bands? It’s true.)