It's been a long time since I did this: polling random folks on the street about their Friday nights. One reason is that I've become less and less likely to go out among the public and initiate conversations; another is that it, again, reeks of the obvious. But one must be careful of a disdain for the obvious. I wouldn't be surprised if we were deprived of inventions like the wheel for years simply because the intellectuals in the Tuggagargh tribe considered the concept too obvious for the more sophisticated and rarified atmosphere they inhabited. Eduardo, 45, on the #7 bus, an excellent resource for incidentals regarding the humanities at any time (3 to 5 a.m. is recommended for discussing life and "deep stuff"). Eduardo describes his plans for this coming Friday night this way. "I'm low income. I don't really do anything that costs any money. As you can tell from the area we live in, it is not, what do you say...?"
"Yeah. And nobody makes too much money at the same time. So there are both those things going on, know what I'm saying? I'll go to Jack in the Box and get a taco or two and a Coke. I don't need too much excitement. I got the traumatic stress symptom from Desert Storm. I got out in '92. On Friday night you can only go so far. You know how much movies are? Like, cheap shows, $6.50."
"If," I ask, "you had all the money in the world, what would you do this Friday?"
"I'd invest in somebody that knew what they were doing. How to have fun but without spending too much. Like, myself, I'd look for one of those co-signers like I have at disability; that gives you all the money, you know? A co-signer and a judge to make these crucial decisions. And say, 'What's up? What do I do?'"
Ken tells me he is "10,000 years old. I usually play it by ear, off the cuff, whatever happens happens. I might go to a movie; I might go to a bar, a restaurant. Any place I can get in and out of, smile on my way in and smile on my way out. I like a chance to get away from the home activity. Don't have to do the dishes, don't have to prepare the meal, just sit there and enjoy the wonder and the beauty and the overall atmosphere. There's Croce's, Jimmy Love's, The Steakhouse, Uno's in Mission Valley -- don't know if it's still there but a great spot for a Philly steak-and-cheese sandwich and a Rolling Rock beer. I'd like to try Trophy's."
"Are you a big sports fan? It's pretty big on televised balls being hurled through various apparatus or is it apparati?"
"I don't know. I don't know what you're talking about."
"Sorry. Just meant it's a sports bar. Are you a fan?"
"Yeah, I was always pretty big into it, but I don't know a lot of the logistics involved. I was active in high school. You better flip your tape over. That's a three-hour, Radio Shack Micro -27, a 14-1044. They have a reputation for reverse-action auto-implementation early on. That's not even slightly new, is it?"
At the Westin Hotel at Horton Plaza, I met a gentleman with a cell phone device that features high-def television. Very impressive but a prototype with Victorian-looking brass nodules, fixtures, levers, and dials. He would brook no photographing of the model. His compatriot, at least for the moment, is Bob from Texas. "I came in last Saturday. Went down to the zoo, went over to Coronado Plaza, checked out the play they had over there. Particularly horrible and can't remember its name."
Bob's wife, girlfriend, or daughter (really hard to tell) supplied, "Rehearsal for Murder. "
I turn to the man with the experimental TV phone. (It has a huge screen for a device so small, and a great picture. I sound like my uncle George in 1955 when he bought his first Zenith. "Look at that! You can almost see the hairs on Milton Berle's knees!") I ask the gentleman at the Westin, with the top-secret device, his name.
"Jack Miller. Friday night we will probably go out to dinner and then come back home, La Mesa, and watch the Padres win. If we get take-out, we will go to a small sushi place called Arigato. We don't have to go out all the time and do tourist things. We Netflix a lot of pictures and tend to order action, adventure, espionage. Once in a while, a little romance for my wife. You know.
Barry Rovner is a 50-year-old cab driver who might be at the Shakespeare Pub on India Street Friday night throwing darts. "Some people say I'm not bad at it. I'm getting into a league maybe. A good score for me is in a game called 3-0-1. The first one who gets to zero wins the game. A good score would be a double-score to win. I don't understand, but don't feel I need to. I like throwing darts, but in the past it has been a beery, meditative thing. Nowadays I'm hoping it would just be meditative."
My upstairs neighbor is going to her son's wedding in Las Vegas Friday morning. She will see some shows there, and as she tries to remember which ones, I think, there must be a huge influx of San Diegans every Friday to Vegas. I did a column on it years ago and recently one of our writers wrote at length on what has come to be known as Stripper Flights.
But some sort of term paper theme occurs to me: Desert Magnetism: The Treasure of the Sierra Madre Factor as it Coincides with the Novels and Themes of Nathanael West: or, a Cuddly Panda in the Jungle of Neon Stars.
The meds are kicking in. Thank you for your patience.