Safe at Home
God bless San Francisco, self-satisfied town of unusual micro-climates. Today I drove to a meeting a few miles from my cold but sunny neighborhood. By the time I reached the meeting place, five minutes later, I'd driven through rain, hail, high winds and, finally, sun.
By now you might be wondering how long I can sustain this Seinfeldian obsession with gum, water pressure, b-list actors, carbonated beverages and other arcania. You're not alone. I'm 40 years old now, and I'm pretty sure everyone whose come in contact with my life is wondering the same thing.
The short answer: probably forever, which is unfortunate. A head full of useless yet occasionally entertaining information is good as a sideline, but please learn from me and don't make it your primary skill set.
Meanwhile, I present for your enjoyment, a seemingly unending laser-like focus on the meaningless details of life. Check that. If I hear anyone dismissing the difference between gum brands as "meaningless," I'll come out swinging.
Would you like to know my opinion on the pressing political issues of the day? Here in San Francisco, you can find out the whole of someone's politics merely by driving behind them.
If that's not enough, you can confirm those political beliefs by opening up any edition of our local newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle, where yesterday a columnist compared the city to a high school misfit sitting in the back of class, misunderstood but generally smarter, kinder and morally superior to every other kid in school. Chicago was a good-natured but dumb linebacker. Los Angeles was an air-headed cheerleader.
I'm serious. The columnist's name is Joan Ryan, if you'd like to email her.
Would you like an exhaustive monologue outlining my encyclopedic knowledge of music? In the right mood, I might unload that on you. You would be thrilled and would learn so much, mostly about me.
Would it interest you to know that right now I am sitting on the floor with 55 lbs. of Jawa on my shoulders? He is watching "The Blues Brothers," one of his favorite movies. Sandra Bullock is out at some important dinner with important work people. When something like that happens, we respond the only way we know how: by going out to dinner, walking around, and then coming home and watching TV. Guys. I look forward to the day, 12 1/2 years from now, when we can follow up the dinner by dropping into the local bar for a beer. Father and son.
How about some discussion about global warming? My thoeries about unrest in the Middle East? I'm sure that would be yawn-inducing, annoying and/or infuriating.
Besides, there are thousands of places online where you can go and get pundited. But how many sites offer in-depth analysis of gum?
I just put the Jawa to bed. Like his father, he has a routine he must follow in order to get into the proper frame of mind for sleep. He sleeps with four stuffed animals, which, interestingly, are shoved into the space between his bunk bed and the wall. And yet, they must be there. Tonight he has his favorite pillow case, the one he made at school last year. They used some kind of paints, and were supposed to draw something comforting, something that would help them sleep. Naturally, he drew Godzilla. Underneath Godzilla, he wrote, "Sweet dreams and destruction. Love, Godzilla."
Also like me, the Jawa has to read before he can sleep. So he has a big stack of books and toy catalogs next to his bed. But before he can read, he has to feed Sparky, his hamster, which I think is uncool, because he's just exploiting that poor animal in order to squeeze a few more minutes out before he goes to bed. Sparky has to wait until 8:30 every night to get her vitamin and snack.
Once he's settled in bed and has his book, we turn on his stereo. Every night he listens to the same jazz CD. The same one every night. I've tried to mix it up on him, but he knows. He can't have another jazz CD, or maybe a nice quiet folk thing. Gotta be that same jazz CD, called "A Night of Jazz." It was part of a 5-CD set I bought at Costco to add a little sophistication to my otherwise lowbrow CD library.
In fifteen minutes I will go into his room and turn off his light. Then he'll pull the covers completely over his head and complain that he wants the light on. Go figure.
And then, a few hours from now, before I go to sleep, I'll go back into his room, turn his light on and look at him for a few seconds. If he's lying in some weird, contorted position, I'll straighten him out. Then I'll turn off his light and go into my own room. I do it every night on my way into bed, no matter what I've been doing up to that point. It helps me get to sleep.