Monday, November 21, 2011


Here is what the plan was:
  1. Participate in a brain-storming session to develop “socializing games” for the duration of Occupy.
  2. Participate in the march through downtown Oakland to a new site.
  3. Camp overnight, donate various needed goods and food. I took fresh produce from my garden, stuff to make a cocido and also some idli mix. I was going to OccupyOccupyOakland'sKitchen.
Reality ended with an idiot walking out of a bar alone in SF.

1. Done: The game development session was quite structured and focussed, there was an agenda which was tightly stuck to and a wrap-up of the meeting and plan for the next session was e-mailed within a couple of hours or so of the end of the meeting.

2. Did do: Various members left to go and support the Occupy SF movement which had apparently faced some police action. Sage and I were the only two who would join the Oakland march, and it took us a while to get going, mostly so she could finish the meeting notes and so we could have lunch. The OccupyOakland website only stated where the march would end; I at least couldn't recall where it was supposed to start, but rather hopefully we headed downtown. We left late enough to give them time to actually start walking. In order to ensure that we would encounter the rest of the marchers, we started at the destination and walked towards them. It felt antidisestablishmentarian, to be walking in the direction opposite to the disestablishmentarians.

By the time we managed to join the march, we'd met various other people headed there, already at the destination or on their way there. One of them was a woman who, it turned out, had gone to the same small beyond liberal-arts college where you design your own program, in where else? … Massachusetts. Yaayy, joyful hugs between the two. (I wasn't included, even though I was wearing my “Kiss me, I'm Indian. Diwali was only 4 weeks ago.” T-shirt. Yes I update it, and will continue to do so until it works.) The “sharing” seemed like a good idea: “Arrey, Jasvinder, where did you do your undergrad?”, “IIT-Bombay, yaar”, “Yaayy, me too, group hug!”.

I tried to get some information from the cops at the destination about where the march was located at the moment, I'll fill in details later, however, the last comment to me was to look for the police helicopter and head directly under it. “Like towards the fire-bombs?” But I wouldn't say that to a man in a uniform with his hand on a truncheon.

The march was high-energy, lots of sloganeering, lots of racket, numerous marching bands, including the Brass Liberation Orchestra, and, lots and lots of smiling faces, which is NOT what you see at the typical Tea-Party or right-wing rallies, which is mostly bared fangs in tight rows. Two of the people in the game group had warned me not to expect too much organization that first night, and they turned out to be right. So I decided it would be better to make the donations etc some other day. There was little bit of a street party air to it, the fence around the park came down, quite a few tents and a music stage went up.

3. It started raining, nobody I knew was staying there, my car was a 40 minute walk away and it seemed pointless to stay overnight with the “white kids from Marin County” occupiers who were dancing on the street. Besides, I'd managed to get myself invited to a birthday party in SF, where we would be occupying bar-stools.

In SF, in the first bar, Sage introduced me to her friend from elementary school, whose birthday it was. The first thing I did was to join in loudly and sing “Happy Birthday Emily”, except it was Beth's birthday. One pitch, two strikes. Beth took it well.

We waited a bit for some more of the party to show up. A couple joined us: one of them was Dennis, who looked as Chinese as his name sounded. The other guy introduced himself, “Hi, I'm Hong.”. “Well, fuck you, and I have a PhD in Physics”, I replied. I mean, what a cheesy pick-up line, right in front of his boyfriend too! I'm not even gay! Not that there is anything wrong with that, I have that rainbow patterned bumper-sticker, the one that says, what … “Straight but not gay!” as a sign of support, I'm just waiting for the right car to put it on. Plus, the colors are in the wrong order, don't gays know anything about Rayleigh scattering?

I mean, come on, I am an Indian guy, there is no arranged marriage for gays, hello-o! Who would pay the dowry?

After a drink or two we walked into the next bar, where there was a stand-up comic night. These guys were bad, so bad that Sage pulled out her phone and started playing traffic jam, and three guys immediately gathered around to tell her what to do.

One of the comics had a bit of a riff about American guys marrying foreign women. “Why is that?”, he asked, I think rhetorically. One of our party -the neck-sucking-boyfriend- yelled out, “Because American women suck!”. I'm proud of you, man, don't let anyone domesticate you! Ever! “Apparently not well enough!”, I yelled back.

There was group of three beautiful brunettes in front of us. Two of them were tall, hair was the same length, their asses were the same shape and size, the hint of a roll just above their pants was the same shape as well. They even had the same smile, just toothy enough to draw attention to how attractive they were, and they were drinking the same beer. The third one was not drinking anything, must have been the DD – designated dyke. I went over to them, since I'd already struck out with two of the women in our group. After a run of really bad misogynistic jokes from the stage, I said something to the pretty ladeej about their seeming to really enjoy the show. One of the tall ones looked at the full beer in her hand, “As soon as this is done, we are out of here.” How bad were the jokes? The third woman grabbed the beer and proceeded to chug it.

Unfortunately for me, she didn't finish the beer.

The last comic was actually pretty good. Plus, the ice had been broken.

The comic picked on a guy in the audience, “You, yes you, you don't look American. Where are you from?”.

Big bright smile, “Europe!”.

The comic: “Europe isn't a fucking country, what country are you from, unless your parents were Euroswingers from 30 countries?”

“Moldova.”, came the reply.

I interjected, “Moldoova is the unhappiest country in the whole world!”

The comic: “Who said that? You?”. Addressing the audience, “This guy's from India, and he's saying the saddest country on the planet is Moldova? Besides, Euro-trash here doesn't look too sad to me!”

Me: “That's because he's OUT of Moldoova!”

Comic: “How do you know about all this, anyway?”

Me: “I'm a physicist, I read a book about happiness.”

That ended up being a bit of a non-sequitor, and the comic moved on to jokes about dating women. I leaned towards the tall brunette who was still drinking her own beer and said that the comic had women who are dating pegged, he must have been reading a lot of profiles of women on dating websites, that I didn't know if she, the brunette, was on those sites.

She said, “I'm on the dating sites, everybody does that nowadays.”

Me: “I don't know what men's profiles are like, and you don't see women's profiles, so ...”

She: “Oh I do, I'm a lesbian so I see women's profiles.” I should have read that, I actually had, but refused to recognize it and refused to allow myself that stereotype.

Me, digging myself deeper now: “Oh, I thought a lot of these sites prohibit ...”

She: “No, that was a long time back, now I'm on all these sites, and I'm a lesbian.”

I saw the opening, and I took it: “But you are too attractive to be a lesbian!”

She, freezing up now: “That is such an offensive stereotype! Look at my girlfriend, she is gorgeous.”

Me: “Well, yes, which is why I was trying to chat her up. But, I'm sorry, I hope I haven't offended you, I was playing off the stereotype...”

She: “I'm not offended, it's just idiotic! It is so old and repeated so often ...”

The Comic, from the stage: “Ma'am, is he bothering you?”

She: “No.”

Me: “No! I'm complimenting her!”

Comic: “Complimenting her? You looked like you were trying to kiss her!”

Me: “No, no, you are not understanding sir. I'm from India, and we Indians we are liking to be close to peepul.”

She then proceeded to lecture me. I listened for a while, tried to excuse myself again, no go. When I could get a word in, I said, “Of course you are a lesbian, you have no sense of humor!”

Just then her girlfriend said, “Dee-Dee is done with my beer, let's go.”

As the one I'd been talking to turned to leave, I tried to excuse myself again, “Let me just explain where I am coming from. Can I do that?”

She: “I'm leaving now.”

Me, further abasing myself: “Just half a minute, please?”

She assented with a nod of her head.

Me: “Look, I go to International Women's Day marches, with a T-shirt that says, “This is what a lesbian feminist looks like!”. Please sleep with me!” I didn't mean that! Or I must have meant it but not meant to say it. How fucked-up can I be on two beers?

To top it off, at the end of the night birthday girl Beth says to me, as she and Sage prepare to drive off into the sunset together, “You are such a sweet guy!” Oh those magic words of death!

Sometimes, you see an opening, and you take it. Often though, the opening is a trap you've set for yourself.

1 comment:

Ranjeet said...

"If you see an opening, take it!" From 'Solitary Man'.