Mother Nature's Son
If you've lived in San Francisco for any length of time, you are well aware of our city's most treasured natural resource: Golden Gate Park. Larger even than Central Park, it sprawls over 1,000 acres of green grass and rolling paddocks, the warm ocean wind riffling the flower beds, the sun shining through the trees like some magical garden of the afterlife. A giant emerald arboretum hosting countless struggles in the never-ending interspecies battle for life and death. And in the midst of it all, humans.
Let's say, for instance, a really cynical, bitter person entered the park. Would this person recognize such beauty? What would a misanthrope notice? ...
Young couples holding hands, strolling down a sidewalk, four years away from throwing dishes at each other. Yes, it's still called infidelity. Older couples lying on blankets in mute stasis, attempting to discuss a marriage that ended, for all purposes, when it began.
Gawky towheaded kids playing baseball. Face it, spaz-mo. You're not an athlete. Never will be. Go back home and boot up the America Online account: "What's Molly Ringwald up to? Find out here! Talk to her tonight o 10 P.M. EDT IN THE OLDSMOBILE CELEBRITY CIRCLE."
RAIL-SKINNY PEOPLE IN T-SHIRTS, JOGGING VALIANTLY. WHAT -- NOT SKINNY ENOUGH? ARE WE SUPPOSED TO SEE EVERY SINGLE BONE MOVE UNDER YOUR SKIN? OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE JOGGING IN SWEATS. HEY BEEFY, WHO ARE YOU KIDDING? HAVE YOU SEEN OUR PRESIDENT JOGGING ON TELEVISION? HAS IT HELPED HIM? GO HAVE A PIE. LIVE IT UP.
GUYS AND GIRLS BICYCLING TOGETHER. NOW THERE'S A DATE. HEY, I KNOW. LET'S MEET UP, PUT ON SILLY HELMETS, THEN GET SWEATY AND MUDDY AND DEHYDRATED AND SUNBURNED. YOU'LL LOOK MORE ATTRACTIVE THAT WAY.
GUYS IN CAPS, WANDERING A MEADOW WITH METAL DETECTORS. WHAT'S UP, OLD-TIMER? DID SOMEBODY TURN BACK THE CALENDAR TO THE GOLD RUSH? WHATCHA HUNTING FOR? A FORGOTTEN ROLEX? OR 17 CENTS AND SOME GUM WRAPPERS?
PEOPLE SITTING BY THEMSELVES ON A BENCH, WATCHING PASSERS-BY. YEAH, MAYBE IT IS TIME YOU GOT A JOB.
BENCHES, STATUES, WATERFALLS, PATHWAYS NAMED AFTER PEOPLE LONG FORGOTTEN. AS IF LIFE HINGES UPON THE PROPER NAME OF A SCUM POND.
ASSHOLES TAILGATING IN SLEEK SPORTS CARS. YES, WE SEE YOUR LITTLE PORSCHE. YESSIREE, IT'S SURE GOT SOME PICK-UP-AND-GO. NOT HERE, THOUGH. NOT ENOUGH ROOM TO BLOW OUT THE CARBON. TELL YOU WHATo At the end of the drive -- the moment where it hits the ocean -- why don't you point it to the water and "see what she'll do"?
Horse and rider, crossing the road. Now there's a useful pastime.
Panting dogs, padding alongside their owners. Is Brandy really that loyal to you? Big news flash: Brandy's a dog. Brandy will be loyal to anyone who shoves powdery imitation beef nuggets under one hole, to watch it come out another.
These people will all go home tonight and eat dinner. Stop off to buy a little ant trap for that pesky kitchen problem. Maybe watch TV, see a soundbite on the news from someone with the caption "tank victim." Read the paper, check out the ads for a new set of towels. Look through a brochure and reread the part about having a needle jabbed into your gut, a sickly syringeful of fat cells sucked out and shot into your breasts or your penis.
Maybe they'll talk on the phone with friends about why school sucks or the zany antics at the office today or the tedious "I know someone who likes you." Go out to see a band, or an "action thriller" movie. Or engage in some incidental flirting at a bar or coffee shop. Or just sit and think about all the people in the world who are better off than they are. Millions of people. Millions and millions. Maybe it's time to make a list of things to do. Projects to work on. Big things. Time to get cracking. Get these in-line skates fixed.
Of course, a cynical, bitter person might see all that. But like an abstract, complex painting or sculpture, everyone sees what he wants to see.
You can't deny this, however: It sure is one sweetheart of a park.
Address all correspondence to: Slap Shots, c/o SF Weekly, 425 Brannan, San Francisco, CA 94107; Fax: (415) 777-1839; e-mail: Slapshawts@aol.com