Show Mance part 3
As the play “Earl, Ollie, Austin and Ralph” progressed, it marked the beginning of a very long practice of my dual life as actor by night and ordinary job holder by day. At that time I worked as a sales clerk for a little shop called, “Porter’s Fine Food and Epicurean.” It was located near where I ended up living in the Mission. One of my co-workers was a robust energetic middle-aged woman with remarkably little tact and an infectious playfully cantankerous manner. She soon became a major guiding character in my early years in San Francisco. Her name is Georgia but I called her Jo Jo or Gay-org. She called me Pogo Dodo. She nicknamed people she was fond of with peculiar names. Jo Jo delivered Gourmet gift baskets and groceries in a beat up truck that belonged to her friend and infrequently set up the produce. Her politics were extreme but she did so little about them I called her The Passive Aggressive Anarchist. She lived in the Mission in a very large railway flat that needed a roommate and I needed a place to stay. The price was right and the room was very large. I moved in right before Christmas.
I’d often come home from work that December and find Georgia sitting quietly in the dark. Her long straight hair would be down and maybe hanging in front of her face. There might have been a candle or two burning. I’d peek in and just watch her staring with a faraway expression into the dark. It was eerie and disconcerting because she was so brusque and lively at work. She would come in and immediately annoy the owners spouting her opinions on how they should be running their business. The woman I found staring into the dark didn’t even come close. Once I found her like this with tears rolling down her freckled round cheeks. I felt compelled to ease whatever suffering she was going through. As I crept in and touched her she startled but acknowledged me. She told me softly and listlessly not to worry and that her odd behavior would pass. After a few weeks it did. In fact she was feeling celebratory and it became her idea to have a Friday Happy Hours. My $8.00 an hour didn’t allow for many luxuries and it was getting near to impossible to afford my happy hour cocktails in the Castro so I could continue my search for a boyfriend.
One particular Friday we were swilling down Bloody Screws. This was the classic Screwdriver made with freshly squeezed organic blood orange juice and vodka instead of regular juice. The rim of the glasses was covered in a fine demera sugar. Georgia’s taste in food was very fine. One wouldn’t know it to look at her with her torn corduroys and faded t-shirts but she was once a financially well off woman. Her father had been successful in the soda pop bottling business. She was dubbed the deposed Soda Pop Heiress by more than a few of us. The drinks were delicious and I was greatly enjoying a night off from rehearsal. I had my lines down and it had been a particularly challenging day at Porters. I wobbled over to the phone as it rang and answered it. Jack was on the other end.
Jack was antsy to share with me his back story idea of Austin and Ralph’s relationship. He asked if he could come over. “Just for a little bit P.A.? I promise I won’t be there all night.”
I put my hand over my eyes. “Oh I dunno Jack. I mean now’s not a very good time.”
“Well…I’ve been drinking and I don’t think that would be an excellent condition for us to rehearse.-plus I was kind of looking forward to having the night free from rehearsal. Aren’t you happy with our progress? You’ve ..given so much to the scenes and I have felt like I barely needed to do a thing!”
He was quiet. “I need you.” He conveyed a sense of urgency, like he was in trouble. “I need this…to show you what I have come up with. Please PA – don’t make me beg”
Despite the alcohol dulling my senses, his tone began to override its affect. The back of my neck prickled and my heart rate quickened. I needed him too. Well maybe not needed but more like wantonly desired. “ Oh …I…”-
-“ My sponsor isn’t available and I don’t think a meeting will do it” he blurted.
I dead panned to some unseen audience in my living room “oh…but I’ve been drinking Jack. I’m drunk Jack okay? Drunk! Get it? “
“That’s actually perfect for what I want to show you.”
“Oh God…this can’t be right……grr…...alright, just give me a sec to …I dunno –brush my teeth or something..”
“Most EXCELLENT! –I am at Café Picaro ( the Café around the corner from where I live!) I will be there soon.
Dammit! I went to brush my teeth…and shower …and change into my sexiest pair of jeans. I was in trouble but another Bloody Screw made me not give a damn.