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Wednesday, March 21, 2001 | link

Jill and I were walking to the gym and we were on this block of Church that's like a modern version of one of those "experience the Wild, Wild West" towns, where there's a shootout every hour on the hour and everyone drinks sarsaparillas and calls each other varmints. This particular block features these movie-settish stores -- a bakery, cafe, diner, florist, and frame shoppe -- which are populated by wacky, authentic San Francisco types who wear colorful clothes and pop out and try to interact with you. You don't actually walk down this block, you float on a people-moving escalator, and the extras stand rooted off to the side, leaning in only to deliver their lines.

This one semi-normal looking guy got our attention by kicking his foot up onto a bench, pointing at his ferociously white tennis shoes, and saying, "Do these make my feet look too big? [big smile to the crowd]" And I said, weirdly, "No, they look too small," and we kept walking.

At the gym, Jill and I scored side-by-side elliptical trainers, and we were killing time in the usual fashion -- talking about gender roles, heart rates, and the temperature of Benicio Del Toro (hot!), playing the "who would you rather sleep with" game ("lights on" edition), and glancing now and then at the closed-captioned TVs bolted to the ceiling.

The one right in front of us was playing that crocodile-and-snake-guy show, which is just insane. Every time I looked up, he was lying on top of a croc, roping and rolling and wrestling a croc, or getting bitten by a croc. There seemed to be no sense to it -- just endless shots of hot-croc-action. Remember that "I'd Buy That for a Dollar" game show that would flash in and out of Robocop? How it was so over-the-top, so surreal, that it gave the movie a really "doomed future" feel? Well that's exactly what the croc show is, a background hint that things aren't going well in my movie.

I asked Jill, "What is he catching them for? To eat? For their skins?" And then the guy whose job it is to spray stuff on the equipment and wipe it absently with a towel leaned in from the right (Jill was stage-left) and said, "No, he's catching them for the zoo, but they make shoes and bags out of their skins. Also: snake skin, eel skin, shark skin, ostrich skin..."

Me: Huh!

SprayTowelMan: But when you wear those shoes, everyone gets all intimidated. They look down at your feet and say, those are $700 shoes! And they feel bad about themselves.

Me: What, like cowboy boots?

SprayTowelMan: Cow[disgustedly]boy boots? No! Loafers! I went to jury duty, and I got on my nice shoes and shirt, and everyone there was dressed like a slob, like nobodies!

Me: [nothing -- I wasn't allowed to talk from that point on.]

Jill: [leaves to go pump iron because she's way smarter than I am.]

SprayTowelMan: I was raised to dress sharp, to look good, but I have to dress down [points to his super-new sneakers] to make people feel comfortable about themselves, women too! And [moewmeow] small closets [meowmeow] city people [meow] camping [foreverandeverandever] ...

Me: [by now totally finished with my "fat burning" cycle, just standing next to the machine, a double-dutch jumper looking for even the slightest opening for me to take my leave from this conversational hostage-taker] BUT MY FATHER IS FROM NEW JERSEY, AND I DON'T LIKE SPORTS!

SprayTowelMan: [meowmeowmeow]

If it had really been my movie, I would have given in to the astonishment-turned-fury bubbling under my surface and screeched, "People don't hate you because of your fucking shoes, they hate you because you're a walking monologue that doesn't care what the rest of us say, think, or want! Since you're clearly not looking to interact, wouldn't you be happier talking to the StairMaster(TM)?" And then he would go over and start babbling to the machine, which would have no issues whatsoever with his $700 loafers, he'd fall in love, take StairMaster home, and the last shot would be the two of them spooning in a sea of satin sheets. The End!

But in real life, I just interrupted him and said, "OK then [walking toward weight area] I have to go over here now."

SprayTowelMan: Well, sure, you're one of those women who love sports.

(PS: My diary has officially moved over to my official evany.com website. Let's meet up over there!)

(PS: My diary has officially moved over to my official evany.com website. Let's meet up over there!)

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