So there I was last night. Hanging out by myself. Minding my own business. Trying to write a story on my cellphone. Way in the back there. In this fairly private and secluded spot. This cul de sac. When these three guys show up. Standing over me. And announce they want to hang out back there with me.
WHEN THERE ARE PLENTY OF OTHER GODDAMN SPACES IN THIS BIG UNIVERSE OF OURS WHERE THEY COULD ALSO HANG OUT!!!!
* * *
It’s 8pm on a Sunday night. And I’m hanging out at this little nook and cranny on lower Sproul Plaza on the Berkeley campus where there’s an outdoor outlet where I can charge my cellphone and sip my beer and babble on with my latest Facebook post (Telegraph Ave 1982).
When these three high school-age kids, probably about 17-years-old or 18-years-old, and as big as me, are suddenly standing over me.
“Hey is that an outlet? I need to charge my cellphone,” says one of them.
“Yeah it is,” I said. “But don’t charge your cellphone here. I want to be by myself right now.”
“I want to charge my cellphone in that outlet,” he said. “There are two outlets. We can both charge our phones.”
“No. Not here. There are a dozen other outlets right down there,” I said, pointing to the dozen or so other outlets they could use. ‘I’m trying to write something. I need to concentrate. I don’t want any company.”
“No I want to use that outlet,” he said. He takes out his battery charger.
“No you’re not,” I said
“Yes I am,” he said.
I stood up and gave him a good look at Ace Backwords. “Listen. There are all sorts of outlets right down there by the benches on lower Sproul. Go use those ones.”
“No I wanna use this one.”
“No. Go somewhere else. I’m trying to write. I don’t want people around.”
“We’ll be quiet.”
“No go away.”
“You want me to swing on you?” (so the possibility of physical violence has now been added to the equation).
“No I want you to go away.”
“Dude. Sit down.”
“DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!” I said with an extra edge to my voice.
“DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO.”
“Dude, stop looking at me ”
“YOU STOP LOOKING AT ME.”
He averts his eyes for a moment and then says. “I stopped looking at you. But you’re still looking at me.”
“WELL YOU’RE STILL LOOKING AT ME.”
One of his toadies says. “Hey you don’t got to make a big drama out of this.” (the dynamic is that there are three of them and only one of me — these punks wouldn’t have been very brave if it was just one on one)
“Listen I’m gonna plug my cellphone in,” he said moving his charger toward the outlet.
“NO YOU’RE NOT.”
“Yes I am.”
“NO YOU’RE NOT.”
So we’re standing there facing off.
But then I realized my cellphone is already 97% charged. And I had finished writing my Facebook post about Telegraph 1982. And I’m almost out of beer. So I’m ready to leave anyways. But it was just a face thing. So I said:
“Oh for crissakes. You can charge your damn cellphone. I’m leaving.”
I pull my charger out of the outlet and start to pack up.
“No you can stay here,” he says. He puts his charger back in his pocket and the three of them start to leave. Which surprised me. I guess it was a face thing with them, too.
So I quickly pack up and head off. But as I pass the three of them — who are still loitering in the general area — I say:
“Hang tough, men ”
“You too, ” they said
I wanted to let them know that every conflict doesn’t have to end in a macho battle to the death. And I have a grudging respect for anyone who is willing to stand up to a monster like me (but they’re usually more stupid than brave).
And they headed back to the outlet to charge their cellphone.
And I headed off to a part of the Universe that didn’t include those three assholes.
So the story had a happy ending for all concerned.