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Yammer #13

 

Somebody loves her.
She wonders who.
Who that is, Guv'nor,
she could love, too.

 

Yini Yohans

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2000

seeing double

being double

Iím 5í8", weigh almost 150 pounds, and have brown hair and hazel eyes. All in all, as average as can be, no? Why is it then, that in my rounds as a bicycle messenger, I seem to be able to magically cause double vision in the eyes of the citizens whose paths I cross on my sweaty rounds? "You guys drive like jerks," says the traffic cop who tickets me when I run a red light too close to a doughnut shop. "You guys are all right," allows the computer-laden dot.com dude as I hold open the double doors to his building. "How much do you guys make?" I am asked over and over again in the chummy confines of the high-rise elevators. "Man, you guys are fast," Iím told as I, quite single-leggedly, without any other guys, drop the all-important package on an anxious clientís desk.

I can hardly wait for messengers to be declared an ethnic group so I can lean on peopleís political correctness to stop confusing me with all the other members of my tribe they seem to be seeing all day!

But perhaps Sybil-style disassociative psychopathology is not all bad. Half the fun of my job is exactly the freedom to not be the same guy all day, trapped by any single setting and the central-casting personality assigned like a straitjacket. Older readers will remember Sam Drucker. Sam was a sit-com character in the late 1960s, a kindly grocer in small-town America. He appeared regularly on Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and the Andy Griffith Show as well as showing up as a far-flung relation, now and then, on the Beverly Hillbillies and Gomer Pyle. Sam was everywhere and so am I!

Unlike Sam, however, Iím not trapped in the same role. In one office I am the hard-working, well-meaning grandson type who is cared for and fussed about by the older secretaries who used to be called "gals." In the next office Iím a real, live hippie, certainly a friend of the Grateful Dead, if not a former roadie. Two blocks away Iím a tough-guy punk with a macho tale to tell from the annals of road rage. In various settings I can be shy or flirty, businesslike or too physically involved in my hilly voyages to be aware of "real work," young or old, bitter or becalmed, cynical or naÔve. Straddling the border of propriety, I sometimes wonder if people think Iím the wildest tame person they know or the tamest wildman.

Sometimes, of course, being in possession of or possessed by a split personality can backfire. The client who feels I am a sweet, hard-working, well-meaning young man is sure to be walking down the sidewalk when I let loose a stream of racist, sexist, body-image insensitive, filthy judgments at an undoubtedly deserving driver. The people who are convinced I lead an exciting, passionate, unique life will invariably catch me at a Starbucks one day, poring over the "wild side" ads while hoping a big latte will work as a weekend anti-depressant.

My clientsí offices, each their own rigid show where I have a bit part, have produced, with conveyer-belt regularity, friends, mentors, lovers, scrabble partners, big sisters, little brothers and, best of all, plenty of gay men to help me with clothes and decorations! The list of places Iíve gone and things Iíve done as a result of trolling the wonderful pond that is San Francisco would go on and on. I suppose itís not so bad knowing that any minute now some vested and tied fellow will say, "You guys have a great job."

In closing, and in hopes of reassuring readers over 35, let me mention that it is perfectly normal and no cause for hypochondriac concern to find that, as a matter of fact, you remember more about Sam Drucker than you do about last week. Life shows non merci!

Steel Monkey