I was driving around last night with my friend J and we saw this cyclist across the street from us waiting for the light to change. He was fully Tronned out; his whole bike was bespangled up in LED lights, ditto his backpack, but the best part was his helmet, which slowly changed color every few seconds. I mean the bike and the backpack were lit up in only one color – the bike was green and the backpack was blue – but the helmet was just throbbing colors. I was making an unprotected left and I rolled down my friend J's window and said "I LOVE YOUR VIBE" as we passed him, only I'm not sure he heard me because it was kind of a busy intersection and I didn't want to yell too loudly. It felt very good to be alive and driving around with my friend and seeing something that made me as happy as that lit-up cyclist did.
Later on, because we were just cruising around downtown not really going anywhere, we saw the cyclist again about to cross the street in front of us, and my friend J said, "You should tell him you like his vibe again, because I don't think he heard you the last time." But I couldn't do it. But I loved his vibe. I loved it so much, and I did want him to know it, and I wish I could have told him.
"I don't want to yell too much," I said. "And I don't want to distract him when he's crossing the street. And I don't want to say it when I'm not moving and I'm pretty sure he can hear me." So I didn't yell anything, and eventually I took J home, and then I went home too.
I've written before about stuff I've yelled at men on the street. I don't do it a lot. I try to make sure it's never in a situation where someone could, you know, look up suddenly and get hit by a car because they were distracted, and also I try to make sure they seem like they're pretty happy and not in the middle of a serious or painful conversation, because you should be judicious about the things you holler in my opinion. But it's important to me, maybe crucial to me, because there's this moment of bewilderment that slowly becomes joy that I've never encountered in any other area of my life and I wish life was like that all the time. I wish all men were gentle and delighted, you know? And I wish I was always surprising and delighting them, and that I was always driving around with my friends and seeing something surprising. I don't always know how to put that into words. I'm also aware that's pretty much not how things go down when stuff gets yelled on the street and men are involved. I wish all men were on bikes and beautifully lit-up and changing colors and we could all tell them how much we loved their vibes, and I wish I was always driving my friends home at the end of a really good night.
I think it's also good not to yell at anybody, and that it's probably better not to yell at all than to try to change the dynamic of public yelling.
There's a jaunty boy barista at this coffee shop I go to a lot whose name is Evan, and he looks like he's about twelve years old but is probably in his twenties. One time he came out from behind the counter to talk to me about my shoes with the most undisguised, unself-conscious joy and ever since then we've started saying the following things to each other when I come in:
- Hey man
- Oh, hey man!
- How's it going?
- Awesome, awesome
- What shoes do you have on today?
- These ones
- Oh nice, nice for sure
- Right on, right on, for sure
- Thanks, man
Sometimes I call him "sir" or "young squire" and he seems to really get a kick out of that. I get a real kick out of it too. I hope he has a drum kit, or has plans to get a drum kit someday.
One time my sister and I were walking around San Francisco behind a cluster of little dudes who were speaking really gently to one another, I mean it seemed like they respected one another so much their general air of testosterone-infused chillness didn't seem in the least put on, and we realized at the same time that all of them were two-strappin' their backpacks, and we both turned to each other at the same time and sort of teared up.
Have you guys ever heard of thrash grass? It is exactly what it sounds like, thrash metal combined with bluegrass and I just learned about it yesterday, and I love it. It's so dumb. Guys, it's so gloriously and beautifully dumb, and there is a gorgeous sort of intently focused male dumbness that feels like comes directly from God to entertain me, and this is that kind of male dumbness. I firmly believe these dudes to be God's jesters, and we all know how God feels about holy fools. That's the way I feel about them too.
I think part of what animates whatever this whole deal is, is that whenever I see a pack of young guns out on the street who seem like they're having a good time with each other, I mean really seem to enjoy each other's company, and know how to be in a group together, and have figured out the line between joyful ribbing and straight-out hassling, and delight in the former and eschew the latter, the kinds of dudes who are mostly big headphones and big shoes and backpacks and ears and friendliness, I really expect that if I ran up to them and said hello or yelled something dumb, their square-boy, gung-ho faces would light up with recognition and delight and they'd say, "Oh, hey, man! Hey, man, it's so good to see you! We were wondering where you were at. We're so glad you're here, man." And then we'd all walk around together, and maybe try to see if the Denny's by the overpass was open 24 hours or if it was the other Denny's that was open for 24 hours, and we'd drive around until it was time to go home.