The Seabiscuit of San Francisco

Having hidden in the background for so long, at last he has finally made his opening to the forefront. That stud, that stallion pacing so softly but steadily, has raced his way to the head of the pack and is ahead by so far that it’s hard to imagine there could be an upset at this point. It should be an easy win, for the closest competitor is behind by a few leagues.

Seabiscuit has clinched the number one spot in the race. The score is 79, now 80, and Lord Byron, the most promising of the recent horses to join the race, is still at 12. However, Lord Byron did this morning send his completed manuscript of a novel that, while he had a literary agent, never found a publisher, so that ought to boost up his stats a few compared to the other leaders left on the scoreboard. I am looking forward to reading his work and laughed out loud once, just upon the first page. He sent it to me to keep me entertained while he is off to London for a week regarding a new publication of his (not the novel) and won’t be online.

I wrote a poem on the bus ride home today. I titled it, “San Francisco” and recorded it when I got home. I emailed the poem to both Seabiscuit and Lord Byron. I asked Seabiscuit if he would want me to send the recording over as well, as he did very much enjoy my voice before when reading his poem. He responded quite quickly; of course he did.

There is something wonderfully attractive and alluring to have someone enjoy my voice so much. He has been quite playful in his language back to me. I do believe we call this “flirting”. Still, I think both of us might be hesitant to go too far. We’ve had some lovely exchanges in the course of a month, and I’ve felt very comfortable talking to him more than to all the others. We’ve discussed a lot more variety of subjects than I have with others from Craigslist: race and racism, politeness in restaurants, others on Craigslist, and ourselves.

I was very touched by his thoughts on race and racism in his email to me this afternoon, responding to the thoughts on that topic I had written to him. It was a very thoughtful recognition of being a white male. (It could not have been any more different than Patrick’s email where his logic boiled down to “I have black and Asian friends and dated a Mexican girl once so can’t be racist.”) It was very understanding and acknowledging the issues that he is blind to by his own privilege as a white male. I appreciated the sincerity of it. I have found it is hard to talk to someone on the other side when it comes to race; hell, I even have moments where I raise an eyebrow to something my own mother says, realizing she has no idea what challenges her children face by only being half-white, and only one of us (not I!) passes for white.

Could this be going somewhere, besides circles in my head? I am very curious to hear his voice too. How attractive would it be? Would I find his voice as alluring as he finds mine, and hear that call of the Sirens in it? Would there be whispered words exchanged by phone?

I have been wondering and entertaining the thought for a while now of doing recordings and including them here, short podcasts of a kind, whether tales from Craigslist or reading my own poetry. But what is the proper length of a podcast? Can it be the mere introduction and reading of a poem? “San Francisco” is only about 30 seconds on its own. Would people listen to a podcast series that was only poems read aloud? Seabiscuit is all for it and says he would certainly listen to any podcast of Craigslist stories so that I can prove there are real women on Craigslist (ha!), and I’m sure he would as eagerly listen to only poetry too-whatever the Siren of San Francisco reads across the waves.

The verdict is in

I suppose you are wondering, How’d that date go?

My Reaction: NOPE NOPE NOPITY NOPE NOPE!

Did I mention NOPE yet?

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via GIPHY

So the verdict is in: RUN AWAY.

He forgot to mention the photo he sent is about 20 years old. Which is extraordinarily substantial when you are 60 years old.

And the missing teeth. And how little hair is left compared to that photo he sent.

I realized that his brashness at the restaurant (not downright rude, but more assertive and bold than I care to have company with) reminds me too much of my father (who can be downright rude). I’m also not sure he left an appropriate tip, given how demanding he was. Having worked in customer service for many years, I pay attention to these things.

He does have a pleasant voice. The kind you’d expect on NPR, and that’s the first thing he talked about, listening to Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and Car Talk. It’s got that Minnesota Nice quality to it.

But…still nope. It got worse.

He wanted to drive down to the marina for a nice walk with the sunset. He made the assumption that I drive and could follow him down there. Nope! No driver’s license here, and I felt much better about not having a reason to go down with him to the marina.

If things had ended right after dinner, that would have been fine. I would have thought, well, we can be friends. Interesting friends. Why not?

But nope!We took a quick walk around a block before he headed out. We talked along the way. Politics came up. He said something that was unforgiveable. Heartless. Unkind. It was so terrible, it tore apart every precious moment, bit of laughter, and pleasantry with him that I had.

I don’t think he realized what a grave mistake he was making–or perhaps he did, because after delivering that line that made my heart drop, he immediately said, “Well we’ve come this far without talking about politics, sex, or religion, so I suppose we should keep it that way.”

He was dismissive of Bernie, but at least he wasn’t a Trump supporter. It was clear he was going to vote for Hillary but didn’t think she would change anything. “I like Bernie’s ideas,” he said, “but he could never accomplish any of that in 4 years.”

“How can you say that?” I said. “I never thought I would see gay marriage legalized in this country, but that happened. Sometimes the amount of progress that can be made in a short amount of time is surprising.”

“That’s no big deal. How many gay people are there in this country? 1%?”

“No, it is much higher. I think it is closer to 8%?”

“Well you might be right,” he said. And then came the line the tore it all asunder: “Anyway, what’s more important is a minimum wage of $15 an hour. That affects way more people.”

My thoughts went to Orlando. My thoughts went to the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer people in this country who have been disowned and rejected from their families and live homeless. My thoughts went to the many of them who have suffered insults, injury, or death because of who they are and who they love.

You don’t know what it’s like to have someone hate you because you’re different. You don’t know what it’s like to be scared that you are not safe to walk down the street because people may be irrational and want to hurt or kill you for who you are and what you cannot change. You don’t know what it’s like to wear a mask at work and hide yourself because you need to our of survival. Real, physical survival.

By the numbers, sure, income inequality does impact more people and would be a significant change that probably would greatly benefit minorities who suffer the brunt of income inequality. But to put down any form of progress towards equality as not as important, to put down gay rights as not important, especially when the mass-shooting at Orlando was not so long ago, I can’t forgive that. In that one line, he immediately became the perfect image of an old, white, privileged male.

The Virgin Queen

There are times where I feel my color–where I can feel the color of my skin, the otherness, and alienation of some DNA sequences and melanin. Those moments are a mix of what’s said and unsaid. For example, when I’ve been verbally assaulted, like one of the last few times I was in Southern California, I was walking in a sidewalk with my brother (who passes for white, easily). A car drove by and the driver screamed at me, “BLACK WHORE!” Or when, the kid who would be valedictorian of my high school, sneered at me outside of Spanish class and said, “All Mexicans are stupid.”

In the other category are those moments of reading between the lines of what’s not said but understood silently: when I walked into an office for an interview and immediately felt unwelcome. It was an office full of white people, absolutely no person of color in sight anywhere. I had this sickening realization then that no matter what I did or said, this interview would not go well for me. It was over as soon as I walked in the door and showed my face. Or that time I received a jaywalking ticket by a white police officer–and the ticket had previously been made out to a white male some 15 minutes before my arrival at that intersection. The officer hadn’t even bothered to change the gender on the ticket before handing it to me. (And just so you know, I was in the crosswalk; my error was not in realizing it was an offense to begin crossing once the hand started blinking.)

Then there are the moments where I feel my gender. The police officer story was a good example of feeling both–color and gender. It was particularly infuriating. So typical! Of course a white male gets off for the same offense. Of course! But feeling my gender still comes up on its own–and not in the monthly hormone cycle, although there’s that too.

Feeling my gender otherwise comes up not as often as the color, but certainly enough, often things you would think of in the workplace: having a male boss who does nothing to stop sexual harassment of other women or makes inappropriate sexual jokes (a coworker who admitted her dream job is to become a dancer was told, “So you want to be a prostitute?”), or being the victim of a creepy customer who keeps coming back to make small talk, or knowing there a lot of men out there paid more than I am for the same (or less) amount of work.

However, I felt myself particularly surprised to feel my gender Saturday evening while playing a game with a group of males.

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