"You mean you're not here mandatory?" The guy beside me asked. I said, no I come from the neighborhood for Anger Management. Earlier he had said he plans to be a preacher, he carries a frayed Bible always in one hand. We are at a Saturday Barbecue at Hope Again.
My voice deepens: “You know what I discovered? Nothing satisfies you better than smashing plates on concrete.” He seems to be interested, so I keep talking: “You take old china plates, you know, cracked used pieces from a second hand store, stock up on them at yard sales.
“Then when you start getting angry, grab those plates, take ‘em outside, and smash them on something really hard. I mean it’s really gratifying. You hear this melodic crash and splinters of ceramic shoot out all over the place. There’s just something really satisfying about destroying something beautiful, I mean, when you're angry.”
The guy has his face forward, only lets his eyes swipe sideways at me. He says, uh, yeah? and I go on:
“So that's how I was dealing with my anger. But then I ran out of dishes.”
He sniff-laughs but I don't notice, as I'm laughing too hard at myself. I hear other laughter around me, don't know if it’s with me or just alongside me, it’s probably from the crowd forming across the yard, a lot of them people who used to be sitting here with me. At this table it’s down to me and this Kenyan guy who is very tall and skinny and has come to America to preach on the streets of Hollywood with that lovely accent.
He swallows, thinks, then figures out to say, “Well at least you have a sense of humor” and chuckles a bit.
Empowered, more inappropriate stuff flops out of my mouth, it never fails. Someone asks me what church I go to and I give a litany of all the churches I've tried to go to since 2004 when I landed at this Christian outreach place for homeless people on Sunset Boulevard and started trying to go to church.
The girl next to me looks like Laura Bush would have looked in her twenties, and when in conversation I mention the Gulf oil spill, she sighs and says, “Oh yes, I don't watch much news, but I did see pictures of all those dead birds,” then wrinkles her nose and I get the idea she thinks the news should have hidden the dead birds like BP asked them to. . . .
But we're still talking, and Young Laura Bush asks me about Churches and I say, well I've been bouncing around. At first I say the problem is there’s not enough little old ladies with white hair in any of the churches I go to, when what I really mean is the people with white hair in most churches are these little old ladies who I can’t relate to, even though I'm becoming a little old lady myself.
The Generation Gap Follows Baby Boomers into Old Age.
Actually the problem is most people in my generation are not Christians, the Jesus movement came “after” the hippies. There were a few late comer hippies who started the Jesus Freak groups in the midst of a dying Haight Ashbury in the seventies, and then moved out into communes in several northern California towns.
But face it, most of my peers, people from my generation in L.A., are atheists.
I say to Laura B on my right, "Yeah it’s really unusual for someone in my age group to become a Christian," and no one argues with me on that one.
So I've opened the door to mention unmentionables in this crowd and I say, “Yeah I used to go to REDACTED Church, but things sort of fell apart there when people found out the pastor was gay.”
The women around me become silent, and I keep talking:
“I was like, you mean you couldn't tell?”
That got a little uncomfortable laugh. Then the woman with a post-grad education across from me spoke: “My momma told me when she was carrying me, she went to a gay church once.” She then mumbled a few words so we weren’t sure if her mom knew they were gay or just happened to go there, and continued: “She was six months pregnant, so they were all-“
I interrupt in one of my silly voices: “How did you do it?”
They're quiet so I think they want me to say more and add:
“Or better yet: It’s a miracle. It must be a miracle.”
After a beat, the educated woman across from me said, “Well Kay thanks for coming by, hope you enjoy the rest of your afternoon” silently adding:
And cracking more jokes, I exited.
I always do it, always end up walking home alone, because when I do finally find a way to be with people, I make the worst of the opportunity. I get so excited from months of isolation, and because I easily get people laughing. Then I want to push it farther so I do, I push it farther, and it ends up being even more funny, yes. But always people end up offended and I end up out the door.
I should just do standup comedy, but I'm an old lady.
Hmm, my daughter might just pick up that baton. She is studying improvisational comedy at a theater school up the street as we speak.
Just off Sunset Boulevard.
Wow, here is proof of how therapeutic it is to write. This morning's posted started out like this:
You Can’t Hide
I’m an old whore and it shows. Even though I'm living this godly life today- well more or less- the way I talk, the way words come out of my mouth, my walk, all of me betrays years of low life. I spent too many hours loud hollering in dark bars to speak today with eloquence, especially once I relax. My belly pours out and some wisecrack betrays me, and the church ladies turn their backs.