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Bad kissers and Palm Pilot porn: another night out at Elbo Room 

Wednesday, Dec 12 2007
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Do you believe in fate? Or is fate something we ascribe after a significant event happens to us? One month ago my friend walked into a bookstore to sell some books and met the love of her life. Stuff like that seems fateful. The other night, I did not meet the love of my life. However, the evening got me thinking about fate. I must believe in fate on some level, or I wouldn't have a column that depended on me going out alone, hoping to see someone or something interesting enough to write about.

Last week I went to the Elbo Room to see one of my favorite bands of yore, Naked Raygun. Elbo Room is great because it's divided into two levels. The upper floor is for live music (with a dingy-backroom vibe that is disguised as a clean, well-lit place for bands), while the lower floor is for drinking with an interesting mix of people. Elbo Room bartenders, by the way, are mad proficient.

The Naked Raygun show was full of big shoulders — a description writer Carl Sandburg once gave to Chicago, the city from which Naked Raygun hails. The crowd was full of large, strapping guys who looked like they put themselves through heating and refrigeration school by parking cars. Just my type. The ratio of men to women was like 100 to one. Jesus, if I couldn't stir up some fate in this crowd there was something wrong with me. I have been thinking a lot about casual sex lately, thinking that maybe I should give it a go. If the fates would allow, of course.

I meandered through the crowd and, lo and behold, ran smack-dab into a throng of old friends from Champaign, Illinois. After high school, Champaign was an amazing place to live. We had a lively music scene and some great bars. We would all go out, like, five nights a week, or have awesome parties in our houses that we rented for, like, $150 a month. We all worked at record stores or bookstores by day. The town was just small enough to engender a nice fealty. One of my Champaign friends, Ravi, was at the Elbo Room. I vaguely remembered him working on some computer thing in his spare time back then, but for the most part, he was the guy I drank Old Style with and listened to the Didjits. Well, it turned out that the computer thing he was working on garnered him $60 million by the time he was 30. Fate? Probably more like hard work and brains. But still ... he is P. Diddy rich. The best thing about Ravi's fortune is that he spends it exactly the way I would. He bought a gigantic old hotel on Haight St., so when you stay with him you get your own suite. He keeps his walk-in fridge crammed with rows of Cowgirl Creamery cheese and cases of Sierra Nevada. He started his own film production company. But mostly he hangs out with friends who knew him before he got rich.

We chitchatted and gave each other shit for a while, and I learned from him that my first love just had a baby with his wife. That guy and I had always said that if we were together after seven years we would have a child. It didn't work out that way. Plus he named his kid Axel, something I never would have stood for. I guess it just wasn't in the cards for us.

My eyes kept wandering over to a guy sitting next to me who was watching porn on his handheld. After my third PBR, I put my palm on the back of his head and pushed him rather hard. To his credit, he took it in stride, and gave me some story about the used memory card that he had bought being full of porn. "It's really not my thing," he said. Something in the way he said it, a mixture of laxness and humor, made me think he was telling the truth. He then popped a Percocet. He had been in a car accident almost a year ago, in which his wife of one year was killed. They were going about 25 miles an hour in Jack London Square when a drunk guy going 70 ran a red light and slammed into them. In a second, she was gone. He pulled up pictures of her from their wedding day. She looked pretty cool. She was probably funny, the kind of girl you have inside jokes with and whom your family loves. He showed me page after page of pictures, ending with the Columbarium in S.F. where she is interred. The last shot he showed me was of an altar that held her ashes. It was really sad, and really deep. "I'm so sorry," was all I could say, but he said that it was nice to talk about her, that it was as though she were still here.

I went downstairs to try to stir up some positive fate, and hopefully not the sort that makes you lose the love of your life in an instant. I sat next to a cute guy at the bar, who it turned out was from Manchester and in town for only one night. Wow, a cute guy with an accent who was leaving, never to be seen by me again. Surely this was a perfect casual sex scenario. We laughed a lot and I teased him about his horrible jacket. "You look like you should be on Footballers' Wives," I said. He grabbed me playfully. "You want to have a crazy night?" I said. I was referring mostly to going back to Ravi's house and staying up all night in the mansion, but he read it as an invitation for sex, which perhaps on some level it was. He pressed into me and laid a kiss on my lips, and it was the worst kiss I have ever gotten in my life. It was like being probed by a ferret. Ewwww. In an instant, his fate changed.

I went to Ravi's house with my gang, sans the Brit. We ate cheese and talked about old times. We talked about Ravi's future plans. "I dunno, Katy," he said. "I create things and then destroy them. That is what I do." He said this with a note of sadness and acceptance. I immediately got that Echo and the Bunnymen song in my head, "Bring on the Dancing Horses." "First I'm gonna make it, then I'm gonna break it till it falls apart." I encouraged Ravi to work with it, to throw himself to the fates. A guy like that always lands on his feet.

As for me, I took a cab home. Maybe next week's the one where I'll find the love of my life — or, like, shag someone from Cornwall with a cool jacket. Who knows what the future holds.

About The Author

Katy St. Clair

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