Look at me. I’m like a child on the morning of his birthday, waiting for the mailman to bring him a gift. No, it’s worse than that: I’m like a spoiled lapdog running to the window every ten seconds, waiting for his owner to come home. Every faint whiff of perfume that wafts through the slightly cracked window has him running around in circles near the front door.
About a year ago, I was coming home on the BART late at night and witnessed what most people would characterize as unusual behavior: A young man was animatedly acting out two sides of a conversation. There was no one else in that particular car except me, and I immediately felt uncomfortable.
He occasionally looked over at me with a stare that said, “What’s your problem?”
Or it might have been: “Why are you eavesdropping on my conversation?”
Or…perhaps it was: “This is a conversation between A and B, so why don’t you ‘C’ your way out of it.” He, of course, was both “A” AND “B.”
Had he actually said that, I would of course have said, “I would be ‘D’-elighted.” and moved to the next car on the train.
I witnessed this man do this on seven or eight different nights in the space of three weeks. However, after the first time, I knew better than to sit in the same car. When I saw that same bright red Cincinnati Reds baseball cap sitting atop the young man chattering away to himself (sometimes quite angrily) I strategically sat in the next carriage over, although, I could watch him gesturing as if playing out a scene or confrontation that had just occurred.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Mr. Bay Area Brit, have you never heard of a bluetooth headset? Maybe he was talking to another person on the phone.”
I can assure you this wasn’t the case.
Around the same period this was going on, a string of violent, armed robberies had been taking place in the East Bay. One store clerk: an Asian man in his sixties was in a hospital in serious condition after receiving a blow to his head from the butt of a handgun. There had been around six or seven robberies all committed by the same young man.
Police believed the robber would hit stores in different towns near BART stations, so he could leave the area quickly. Police described him as a male, African-American, mid-to late-twenties wearing a red Cincinnati Reds baseball cap. He also had a scar on the right side of his face. The consensus of the employees that had been working when he struck described him as having an “agitated manner.” He was also considered “armed and dangerous.”
If you can imagine a visualization of the word “agape” that was me, as I stared at my computer screen. Heart pounding out of my chest.
I had to know if it was the same man. Did my schizophrenic-conversationalist have a scar on the right side of his face? There was only one way I was going to find out.
Later that night, I waited on the platform nervously. Would he be on my BART train? Some nights he hadn’t been. He didn’t seem to have a set schedule, and I was rarely waiting at the exact same time on the platform. The train’s headlights were drawing near and I was getting antsy.
Dare I do this?
The train arrived and slowed to a stop, and there it was: the Cincinnati Reds hat. The doors opened and I got on. I swear my heart was about to explode. I looked over at him. “Excuse me, is this the San Francisco train?”
He glanced towards me, irritatedly. “Yeah.”
And there it was: a scar on the right side of his face. As I sat there (choosing a seat far away from him) I suddenly got scared. What the fucking hell am I doing? I’m like the COMPLETE opposite of courageous. This is nuts! But I had to know whether this was the man that had been terrorizing innocent people.
I knew, with a gut feeling that I cannot explain, that THIS was him. Maybe he had committed another robbery this very night. Maybe by not contacting the police this man had hurt, or maybe KILLED someone tonight.
Oh my God. Why had I waited? I had read the article almost a week earlier and this was him. Could it be possible, because of my hesitancy, a family would be grieving the loss of a loved one? Because of ME!
I rushed home and wrote down the police contact number at the end of the article. The next morning I awoke with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach and reached for the phone.
“Yes, I’m calling because I think I have seen a suspect in a series of armed robberies.” I was nervous. I might have to be called to identify this man, maybe be a witness of some sort. What was I doing? I didn’t want to get involved with this. But I had to. I had already waited longer than I should. I was put on hold while they located the detective on the case. I was patched through. I explained my story to the detective.
“Got him.” the detective said.
“Oh, you did?”
“Yeah, three nights ago.”
“Oh, my God. Oh wow! Thank God for that. So it’s definitely the right guy then?” It wasn’t my guy on the train after all.
“Yep, definitely him. So if you see your guy on the train again, you can sit next to him without worrying.”
At the time, the detective’s comment didn’t register. I was just so relieved that they had got the guy and that my inaction hadn’t led to a tragedy. I thanked the detective and got off the phone.
“you can sit next to him?” What’s that about?
And then I realized what he was saying. The detective misunderstood my relief. He thought that I had been scared for my own safety.
I wanted to call him back and explain myself. “No, you don’t understand. I genuinely BELIEVED this was the guy and I had DELIBERATELY put myself in harm’s way to discover whether this was the right guy.”
I of course didn’t call the detective back.
Under the sense of relief and the feeling that I had done the “right thing.” It bothered me that I had been thought of as a coward because I was so relieved. But then I noticed that the sun was shining and it was a beautiful Bay Area morning.
You know what… if I see that Cincinnati Reds baseball cap tonight on the BART, maybe I WILL sit next to him.
Pfffft, yeah, right.
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BART continues to be a source of amusement for the pic-and-caption team at The Bay Area Brit. I hope that you feel the same way.
The BART station agent’s financial woes are aired for everyone to see. However, if BART paid him more money maybe he would stay in his little booth the whole shift like he’s supposed to.
I keep seeing these ads on the BART platforms everywhere. I know when I’m scraping together the $2.75 to take BART in the morning, I often think to myself: “I should just donate my luxury yacht to some page 3 pin-up dressed like Donald Duck.” Really?
Speaking of ads: Why did the people that paid for the Judgment Day Warning posters pay to have their ads run through the end of July? Silly rapture-wanters.
This young man takes a heroin nap during the evening commute to San Francisco. He will wake up three hours later in Richmond and will have somehow lost his wallet, his ID, his sunglasses, and his Nikes.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen, people.
A Female commuter regrets her decision to partake in “Take A Convict To Work Day” when he tells her that he’s never really known true love before…until now.
You know I just couldn’t resist
If you missed the first one, click below, and don’t be shy with a comment if you liked it, hated it, or are in one of the pictures and want your silly face blurred.
A few years ago, I was on the N Judah returning home after a Saturday night of drunken debauchery out in the avenues. It was a bright, Sunday June morning, not unlike any other beautiful San Francisco day. I was trying to remember the name of the woman I had woken up next to…Svetlana? No…maybe it was Caterina…something Russian. I think. I remembered that much at least.
As the train approached the tunnel to head downtown, I noticed a large, colorful crowd of people waiting to get on at Church and Duboce. At the time, the only people on the N Judah was your hungover Bay Area Brit (sporting a silly grin), the driver, and an old Asian woman.
As we drew closer, I could see that there had to be 200 people eagerly waiting. Although they were 100 yards away, I could sense their excitement.
The N Judah pulled in to the stop and suddenly the Asian lady and I were inundated with 100 or so gay revelers. Of course! Well that would explain why it was such a beautiful day: Gay Pride was happening this weekend…. and not only that, it was happening on our train.
I love Gay Pride. It’s a great time to celebrate the many diversities of life and love.
After about 2 minutes of riding, a chant came from the back of the train: “WE’RE HERE, WE’RE QUEER, GET USED TO IT!” A hundred grown adults chanting in unison.
These gay brothers and sisters seemed angry, and were doing that fist-pumping and pointing thing. I’ve been to soccer matches in England where hooligans were less intimidating. I looked over at the Asian woman and thought, are they chanting at us? What did we do wrong? And if they’re not aiming it at us, then who are they chanting at?
I thought of Lisa Simpson’s smiling response while watching the Gay Pride parade in Springfield:
“YOU DO THIS EVERY YEAR, WE ARE USED TO IT!”
Was it that obvious that I was straight and not “one of them?” I thought about chanting along with them and encouraging the old Asian woman to join in. What I really wanted to offer was an alternative chant:
“I’M STRAIGHT. I WAS OUT LATE. STOP YELLING AT ME.” Quickly followed by: ”I HAVE A REALLY BAD HANGOVER….BUT I SUPPORT YOUR RIGHT TO CELEBRATE!”
I got off of the train at Powell and felt kind of strange. Because I was not wearing the colors of the proud, did they think that meant that I was against them? Maybe the driver was their target?
Either way, that moment stuck in my head because for the first time in a while, I felt like I was the conservative guy that wasn’t cool–an outsider. I thought about it and realized that many of these people moved to San Francisco so that they could safely express themselves without fear of being targeted, and so for a brief minute I didn’t mind appearing to be the straight, uptight outsider that wasn’t part of the cool gang.
Happy Gay Pride Weekend To All My Brothers and Sisters!
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This is the first time I have ever written a suicide note…….well….not counting that one time after I strangled that homeless guy and dumped his body in the lake after I accidentally gave him $20 thinking it was a dollar and he wouldn’t give it back. I didn’t know his name and so I just kind of scrawled a squiggle as his signature at the end of his sad “woe is me” note. I guess bringing that up right now isn’t going to help my cause to get into your Heaven Compound or whatever you’re calling it these days.
So the word is that the world is ending. Fortunately, by the time you read this I will probably be laying on a cold slab in the morgue and not suffering the ordeal of this “end of the world as we know it” business. I mean seriously, who wants that mallarchy?
So when I got the word that The Rapture was coming to my neighborhood, I decided I was going to slash my wrists in the bathtub…which, as you know, is where I get most of my ideas.
Anyhoo, I know that suicide is frowned upon, but the way i figure it, you’re going to be so busy judging the sinners and whatnot I’d make it easy for you.
I am a sinner, God. I’m sorry that I have sinned so much and with such frequency, but here’s my excuse: You made me in your image and you’ve been really hush-hush these last 2,000 years about what is acceptable and what’s not. No offense, but The Bible is an antiquated business model for good behavior and it’s so very long and so mindnumbingly boring, and soooooo incredibly preachy.
My excuse for all my misdeeds is based entirely on the premise that if you created me, you must have known what you were doing and allowed me to do the stuff I did because I’ve been told from like Day 1 that you were omnipotent and omnipresent: you know like “all knowing” and “all-seeing” and I’m assuming “all-hearing” although that’s not ever mentioned….your ears must be huge BTW.
So yeah, when I did that one thing with those two flight attendants in the garden of the Icelandic Embassy in Kensington Gardens, I figured that since you didn’t strike me down with a lightning bolt, we were cool. Although I did get food poisoning the following week from eating a can of clam chowder that had been sitting on a shelf at my corner store since the week that Kennedy was assassinated. But I can’t blame you for that though….or wait….why can’t I blame you for that? And why can’t I blame you for the Kennedy assassination? I mean if people give you credit for creating the beautiful stuff like the trees and the birds and flowers and that one really hot chick that I love on the Internet, then you must also take the blame for expired chowder and earthquakes and Hitler.
I mean that’s only fair. And who was it that first said “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” Because thats a huge cop out. You know what? I don’t think I’m going to kill myself after all, because I want to wait and see what this Rapture’s all about. Judgment Day? You’re damned right. I’ve got some judging of my own to do.
Well, anyway, there are some people expecting something funny from me before this Rapture comes and I’m assuming you’ve got a pretty decent sense of humor, so if you think of anything hilarious, like really actually ending the world…lemme know.
To My Dear Lovely Kate, or should I say, Duchess of Cambridge, as you are now known.
As I sat by my mailbox waiting for my velvet cloaked invitation to your wedding (an invitation that never came by the way.) I wondered how long it would be before your royal romance ended. I know what we had was fleeting: A drunken kiss and fun clumsy grope on your sofa while we watched the Queen Mother’s funeral on the telly. But I’ll never forget those words of love you whispered in my ear: “Nibble my neck…Wait did you just drop your chewing gum in my hair, oh you did. You idiot.”
Your Prince is handsome I suppose, in spite of his premature balding and Stonehenge toothy smile. I know you think that he’s relatively normal by royal standards, probably, because only one half of his gene pool came from generations of inbreeding: Second cousins marrying third cousins, and whatnot. I’m not bitter. Just don’t try to tell me you and he will live a “normal life.”
Only common folk (like you and me) actually have life experiences in real situations: like having to pay the gas bill or changing a light bulb in a darkened room. Or like when I had to take you to the Emergency Room at St. Mary’s Hospital because after cutting out that piece of Wrigley’s I accidentally dropped it down your throat and you were coughing and choking trying to spit it out like it was a human hairball.
Real life is not having employees with job titles such as “Royal Fly Swatter,” “Corgi Wrangler,” “Prince Phillip’s Jacket Pocket Lint Remover,” “Third Floor Kitchen Ice Cube Tray Filler,” and “Buckingham Palace East Wing Pillow Fluffer.”
Also just a heads up what you’re getting into: Charles and Diana broke up when “Big Ears” fell in love with the spawn of one of the witches from Macbeth and a Budweiser Clydesdale horse. Seriously have you seen the face on this woman she’s like your stepmother now. Wicked!
Prince Andrew leapt from the Sarah Ferguson ginger love train when his “Duchess of Pork” got her freckled boobies snapped by some (now) millionaire photographer in St. Tropez while carousing with a self-titled playboy. Fergie found out that Prince Randy Andy had been shagging some Glaswegian scullery maid in the pantry every Wednesday night during the closing credits of Eastenders, and had enough.
Since MI5 had Princess Diana murdered in that tunnel in Paris—for fear that she and Dodi would breed a small militia of Arab babies that would take down the British monarchy from within—she wasn’t there to see her oldest sapling prepare for a life of dipping his imperial sword into a commoner’s scabbard. Sorry, my lovely Kate, but that’s what you are to these people: a common scabbard.
Now that said, at least when your marriage is given its last rites “Wills” probably won’t have your head cut off. Don’t think I’m being funny, it’s in their blue blood. One day you forget to remind a minimum wage maid to vacuum the moldy 14th Century carpet and the next day you’re wondering why your oxygen supply has been cut off: Oh that’s right your head and neck aren’t connected anymore.
So, once the honeymoon is over, prepare for the most miserable of lives; your every waking moment documented by a team of Lifetime movie channel TV writers and producers, lurking in trees and bushes hoping for those golden lines that will end up in the 30-second trailer of your life.
“Oh, Wills, you knew there had been other men before you, didn’t you? I just loved that he liked Juicy Fruit chewing gum too. We had so much in common.”
“Yes, Kate, the operative word: Common!”
Enjoy being told “your place” by your new “family” and being made fun of for being an outsider within the Palace walls. Oh, and don’t forget the continual hounding by the paparazzi. I’m sorry to burst your Union Jack Royal Wedding Commemorative helium-filled balloon, my dear Kate, but I give it five years tops.
Oh, and I want that piece of chewing gum back if you still have it. No one believes me that we almost did it, and I’m assuming some of your DNA from your hair is still in the gum so I can prove it.
Don’t Ever Forget me, My Lovely Kate
The Bay Area Brit
I recently bought a trunk at a flea market and was surprised to discover that it had a false bottom. Under the faux cover I discovered a diary written in 1909 by a man named Dr. York Van Landingham. Here is a page:
July 17th 1909
She was from Mother Russia and her name was Svetlana Minsky. She spoke perfect English in an accent that one could not detect as foreign. Svetlana had a penchant for bawdy revelry, and used the kind of language which might make an unassuming male turn burgundy from blushing. I had sought her company while we were aboard a steamboat vessel bound for the shores of North Africa. I was wary of her however, as earlier, I had witnessed her bilk three men of their life savings with a fifth, and yes even a sixth King up her lace sleeve.
In the event that her conniving was discovered, she kept a knife in her garter. Upon discovering the weapon one sultry night in Constantinople I decided to nickname her “Svetlana Switchblade.” As I recall, she only stabbed me with it once, and I remain convinced that it was somewhat accidental, but the piercing occurred after I confessed that I relinquished one of her diamond earrings to get out of a tight spot in Bombay.
The night we met, I caught up with her on the deck as she stared out across the Atlantic Ocean at the purple dusk, her winnings tucked into the folds of her undergarments. She told me she’d first noticed me playing trumpet among the troupe of musicians that kept the passengers and crew entertained. It was someone else that she had seen, but I played along not wishing to disappoint her.
She told me she had been entrusted to discover if there were truths to the legend of the goddess Aphrodite and the potions so named after her. She had journeyed through Greece and was now headed to the barely reachable corners of the darkest continent. Entrusted by whom she never confirmed, but she had alluded to a man named Rasputin.
I knew nothing of Aphrodite and she asked me to join her in her cabin to discuss matters of amour. I hadn’t been invited to a woman’s quarters since my journey began and I lustily agreed. She asked if I had absinthe, and of course I did.
We sipped our pastis and made playful conversation. She pulled a patina box from the drawer and opened it. “This is dust from a rhinoceros’s horn,” she said, offering it to me.
“And?” I said.
“You snort it, like so.”
“Madame, I have ingested many a foreign object in my time but nothing from a beast of such stature.”
“It’s an aphrodisiac.
“An aphro what?”
“It’s named after the goddess,” she said. “If you take it you will likely want to consume me with desire.”
“I have never heard of such a thing. Won’t I become ill?”
“No. Legend says that you will become aroused. Try it.”
“Hm, do you have any other aphrodisiacs, say something in a chewable form?”
“Many men have died trying to discover what it is about this and other ingredients that turn us into savages.” She passed a leather-bound book under my nose that she had been writing in. I opened it somewhere near the beginning and read her words. I suddenly felt the urge to regurgitate my lunch.
“What in the name of Satan’s hot tub?”
“What did you read? Is it the tiger penis thing?”
“Yes, of course it’s that!!”
“That’s usually the reaction.”
“People actually eat tiger’s penises?” I blurted. She nodded slowly. “I mean I’m adventurous in the kitchen, Svetlana, but there is one ingredient that doesn’t leap to mind when cooking and that is tiger penis. I mean, how does one even discover something like that? Oh, I know, why don’t I try tiger penis in my omelet this morning? But before I can do that it’s off to hunt and castrate a tiger…hope he doesn’t mind having his masculinity severed from him before he’s had his morning cup of tea. Maybe I can find other ways to use tiger penis, since I went to the trouble, maybe as an accompaniment to a cheese plate. Oh what have we got here then? Brie, Camembert, Stilton, Tiger penis…oh, yes, perfect, just fits right in there doesn’t it? Pass the salted crackers; this tiger penis is in need of a bed of crunchiness before I can consume it. Good god!”
“What is it then that makes man want to consume the horn from a rhinoceros and the genitals of a jungle cat?” she asked with a perfectly straight face.
“I couldn’t tell you, Svetlana, but if this catches on, these poor things are looking to go the way of the dodo and the unicorn. Oh no, do you think that’s what happened to those doomed creatures? Unicorn testicle flambé ? Dodo Eggs Benedict?”
She calmed me with her smile and we drank long into the night. At some point she asked if I would be interested in joining her on her mission. I laughed. “As long as you don’t try to get me to snort pelican beak, drink panda bear urine, or inhale a mongoose’s fart. I’ll think upon it.”
Hours later I awoke under my own bed with a headache the size of the earthquake that shook San Francisco. In my view was a half-eaten plate of oysters and my ears filled with sounds of an accordion melody skipping on the phonograph caught in a three second loop. Oh, Svetlana, I thought, I really must stop drinking that absinthe.
I crawled out from beneath the bed and sought the comfort of some woolen trousers so that I might get some fresh sea air and locate my mysterious Russian adventurer. Tomorrow night we are due to dock in Casablanca. I hope that there are no tigers in Morocco, the temptation might be too great an urge to resist.
I have been told by some of my friends and past and present loves that I can at times be…….paranoid. However, in the words of either Jesus or Kurt Cobain (I forget which) “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
And so, Mr Bay Area Brit, how does this paranoia manifest itself?
I’ll tell you.
Well one: There is the fear that I’m not getting the attention I crave. While some worry that people are talking about them behind their back. I worry that they’re NOT talking about me behind my back.
My paranoid fears are not unrealistic. I don’t worry about aliens taking over the Earth, as much as I don’t fear werewolves attacking me as I walk home by the park late at night. I don’t fear going to Hell because I don’t believe in God. My worries are everyday things like: If I leave the dishwasher running while I quickly go and check the mail will I come home to find it has broken and waterlogged the apartment?
When I’m waiting for a package to be delivered, I fear that the driver will not stop at my building unless he sees me staring out the window at the street waiting for him.
The reason I haven’t had Lasik eye surgery, is primarily due to my concern that my appointment would be at the exact same time a massive earthquake strikes the Bay Area as I wait in the doctor’s chair with Goldfinger’s death ray laser pointed at my eye socket.
I come from the school of thought that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and I will be the one to suffer more greatly than any of you.
I also have phobias, and not the usual ones that normal people have. For example, take “arachnophobia.” The fear of spiders.
Much like Robert Smith, my version of arachnophobia isn’t just a general fear of spiders; it’s specific. My phobia is that a pregnant female spider is going to crawl into my ear as I sleep and hatch a hundred little spiders that don’t know where the exit is, and so they burrow their way through my ear drum, which is of course the gateway to my brain. By morning I will be dead. My head literally eaten away from the inside out. Now that is a phobia you can sink your teeth into; it is also why I sleep with earplugs in my earholes and nuzzle up to a can of Raid at night…..just in case.
There are phobias for everything. Here are some illustrated ones for your viewing pleasure.
Feel free to leave a comment because that’s the only way I’m going to know that you’re watching my every move. And you are….aren’t you?
I love my cat, I really do, but I think she’s trying to drive me insane.
If it’s not by pouncing on my bed at 6 a.m. and slowly inching up my chest and nuzzling up to my face, its by placing herself on the edge of the bed and allowing her body to go limp and fall off. As she drifts down and off of the bed the sheet is pulled off of me and then there is a gentle thud on the carpet as she lands. This is followed (of course) by the attempted noisy and clumsy extrication from said sheet before she jumps up on the bed and does the whole thing all over again.
This often all happens a mere few hours after I’ve gone to bed. But what am I to do? I tried to lock her out of the bedroom but she attacks the door trying to get back in so she can wake me up. It’s not even a food thing. This morning she was fed and I tried to sleep on after…but no. No, no, no, no, Mr. Bay Area Brit, you cannot sleep I need you up and alert and ready to play with me. What do you expect? She’s not even a year-old.
I love my cat…but she’s driving me cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
She wants to get me up, and I think I understand why. She has no idea what my life is like outside the walls of the apartment. Maybe when I leave to go to the store, she thinks I’m just outside the door the whole time teasing her…which would explain why she is waiting for me just eight inches from the front door when I return.
I often think of a Freaky Friday situation where I switch lives with my cat for a day. Just so she can see how much more complicated my life is compared to hers and why I NEED my sleep. So yeah, what would it be like to be my cat for one day? Lounging around on the bed purring and receiving all kinds of love and affection. Does that sound like hard work? If only she could meow the words “Peel me a grape.”
Maybe what she really craves is something more than the life of a domestic cat. Perhaps inside that mischievous mind there is a complex brain at work. Like humans, some cats are smarter than others. Maybe my cat is the most intelligent feline in the world. Maybe if we switched for a Freaky Friday, she’d get something great accomplished with my life. Maybe on Saturday I’d discover that I actually have money in my bank account, and that overnight people have come to think of me as a sharp, balanced, poised under pressure kind of guy. Or maybe I would just suddenly become addicted to being tickled under my chin and having my tummy rubbed.
The animation by Simon Tofield is hilarious, and is a fair reflection of how it goes down.
Feel free to leave a comment or email me at TheBayAreaBrit@gmail.com