I spotted this guy on Shattuck today who I haven’t seen in years. Let’s call him Blaine. I first met Blaine in 1978. He was a friend of my friend Duncan.
Blaine’s most distinctive character trait was a nearly total disgust and hatred for the entire human race. You know how people come up with derogatory words for different groups of people? Niggers, Wops, Fags, Spics, etc. Well, Blaine came up with a derogatory word for the entire human race; “Humies.”
Blaine would often launch into these angry diatribes about the latest despicable doings of the human race, or the latest indignities that he himself had been forced to suffer at the hands of people. And he’d usually end his diatribe by spitting out the phrase: “The humies!!!” And in a tone that implied it was virtually impossible for him to truly express in words just exactly how repulsive the human race was.
Among Blaine’s many peculiarities: Blaine went to college at UC Berkeley in the ’60s. I believe he was a philosophy major, oddly enough. But in 1969 he dropped out when he was only 5 or 10 credits away from getting his degree. Go figure that one.
Duncan and this other guy, I forget his name, were Blaine’s only two friends on the planet. The only two people he could actually sort of stomach. He had some kind of strange covey-hole arrangement where he slept at night. And his mother sent him a small sum of money every month to help him survive. That was pretty much the extent of his interactions with the human race if he could help it. I actually met Blaine’s brother once. He worked for a big bank in San Francisco, and as far as I could tell, he was completely normal and socially well-adjusted. It always struck me how differently siblings can turn out, even when they shared fairly similar DNA and social-conditioning. Such is the mystery of the human psyche, and the strange paths our lives all take.
Blaine was fairly normal looking in a bland way. Light brown hair pasted across his forehead like a bad wig, and wire-frame glasses. His face was incredibly pale, as if he avoided sunlight as much as possible. And his face had sort of this waxy tone, like a mask even. And he definitely had constructed a mask that he presented to the world. In his interactions with people he was unfailingly polite and cordial, in a bland, stilted way. For he strove to hide the contempt he felt for virtually everyone. Though his mask would sometimes start to crack if the interaction wasn’t completed as quickly as possible.
Another of Blaine’s oddities. He always wore this jacket. This green jacket made out of synthetic material and fairly well-padded. He never took his jacket off, indoors or outdoors, no matter how hot or cold it was. And he used all the pockets to store his many personal affects, almost like a backpack. But it more reminded me of a turtle’s shell. I think Blaine wanted to insulate himself, physically, from the rest of humanity in any way he could.
There was also something robotic about Blaine. For years he would always meet up with Duncan at Duncan’s hotel room in the Berkeley Inn on the same days of the week, at the same time, and he’d stay for the exact same amount of hours (around 3 or 4 if I remember right).
My most vivid memory of Blaine in my mind’s eye is the picture of him sitting at Duncan’s desk, where he usually hung out, with his back to me and Duncan. He’d be methodically drinking the 6-pack of tall-can Budweisers that he always brought with him. “Mass quantities,” as the Coneheads used to say. And he’d start out the afternoon fairly bland and innocuous. But after every beer his tone would get a little more harsh and shrill and angry. As his real self starting seeping out from behind his mask. And he’d look over his shoulder at me and Duncan — with this crazed leer on his face, his thin skin stretched tightly across his skull — as he ranted and raved about the latest doings of those despicable “humies!!!”
I was publishing a punk rock tabloid at the time. So I once gave Blaine a copy of the latest issue as a present. Later he thanked me in his own inimitable way: “I really appreciate you giving me a copy of your paper. I use the pages as a paper towel when I’m making my sandwiches. So I found it very useful.” It was Blaine’s way of reiterating his constant mantra: That the human race, and virtually everything it produced, was beyond worthless.
I remember one time, after one of Blaine’s anti-human diatribes, I couldn’t resist. “But don’t forget, Blaine, you’re a human, too.” He did not like that line of reasoning one fucking bit.
Finally, Duncan got tired of Blaine’s act. One afternoon he left a note at the front desk for Blaine to pick up when he showed up to visit Duncan. The note basically saying: “I’m tired of your act. Our friendship is over. Good-bye.” Blaine turned on his heels and left, never to return. A typically robotic ending to Blaine’s robotic existence.
But I’ll tell you one thing that surprised me when I caught a quick glimpse of Blaine today when he passed me on the street. He looked almost exactly like he looked back when I first saw him 37 years ago. Hasn’t aged hardly at all. And he was still wearing the same type of jacket. Somehow, I always expected that Blaine would’ve been worn down over the years by the harshness of his psychology, and by the sheer narrowness of his existence. But I guess not. Seemed to be doing quite well for a humie.