The Exotic Side of Things

Where you seek adventure, you will find it. If perhaps you wanted to turn an indulgent ritual into an epic tale, then you need do no more than put your mind to it.

It’s no secret that I’m a great consumer (but not connoisseur) of ice cream and I’m glad that my friend, Ming, is a willing accomplice in the consumption of the most delicious offerings at Bi-Rite Creamery on a semi-regular basis.

Taking decadence for a walk, we made our way along poorly lit sidewalks while avoiding the steepest of hilly inclines on a rather balmy (for this city’s standards) evening.

On a street of what seemed like no particular significance was a wooden, plus sized port-a-potty in the shape and color of a pagoda—an oddity even in this eclectic neighborhood. Across the street was a retired DPT vehicle (a kind of tiny, one-person, three-wheeled contraption that transit officers ride in while handing out parking citations) painted with polka dots and stripes. A large red circle proudly lay claim to the front wall of a lavender house. The unassuming street quickly became a world of strangeness, where every oddity was a conspicuous indicator of a world hell bent on playing an awkward and bewildering game with us.

It dawned on me that the more idiosyncrasies we spotted, the more appeared in front of our eyes. The stained glass window resembled a spiderweb, and how curious it was that one house seemed so much larger and grander than the others (did a Silicon Valley Millionaire reside inside, or a drug kingpin?). Was it really the world gone mad for a single block, or our minds working overdrive to build the grandeur of a miniature fantasy world block by block?

Knowing that our conscience could skew our perceptions, we decided to put this theory to the test—if we sought out the exotic, would we be rewarded with glorious finds or become disappointed by our foolishly set expectations? The answer soon became aparent as a walk to the less frequented back side of Dolores Park set a memorable set of events into action.

A decision to trek over the back side of the park was driven more by desire to exercise the guilt of ice cream away sooner than later. The glimpse of a staircase was enough to taunt us and we obliged it by clambering to the top where we were greeted by an breathtaking view of the city; fog obscuring the tops of skyscrapers downtown, the Mission sprawled out in front of us, bleeding into the various other neighborhoods with the faint glow of ugly yellow city lights all around.

Adjacent to us a yellow road sign simply read, “END”. Well that’s a pretty bold proclamation to make. After several moments of contemplation we concluded that it certainly was *an* END (and probably one of many, at that) which signaled our passing into an alternate reality where a house can dawn a glowing green light in front like it is The Great Gatsby and miniature palm trees make regular sized folk look like giants.

Our escape further into unreality came via questing for a geocache. On the street an eery jingle arrived like a wave out of a still sea, it’s source impossible to pin point. Slowly appeared a white dog followed, and then a second. Finally, after several suspense filled seconds the owner appearered and everything quickly returned to normalcy—well, not quite really.

Next to the road, perched 10m on top of a telephone pole sat a large bird cage. A human sized bird cage. Fortunately, there was no gigantic bird or human to be seen. Just the lingering question of “What the fuck is this doing here?”

As we reached our destination it became clear that was no choice but to engage in a furious search through brush and vines to find the sought after cache. Looking under rocks and leaves, peeling back branches, digging in dirt and ultimately coming up empty handed after 15 minutes wasn’t the rush we were looking for, but that’s what we got.

Rejecting dejection, we stopped to observe TV commercials through a strangers window, though apparently just too long as a scowling woman appeared just before we turned down hill towards the Mission.

Walking the J MUNI tracks back to our origin on the edge of Dolores Park elicited a feeling of being on no mans land, and rightfully so because we missed an oncoming train by just minutes. As we meandered through the park, I stopped for a moment to adjust my glasses and rub my eyes. *Little did I know* that the sap from a branch at the geocache was toxic and would almost immediately cause my left eye to wet itself in an attempt to rid itself of the irritant.

By the time we were at the foot of the park my entire cheek was covered in tears and my nose was running. With one eye closed, blinking repeatedly and feeling pain as my eye was exposed to air, we hastily scuttled back to Ming’s apartment to figure out the severity of the situation.

The next two hours were spent trying to clense my eye with various methods. I stook my eye under a running faucet, but to no avail. Sitting in silence with a slowly swelling eye was a futile attempt at trying to will my way into a miraculous cure, though I did realize once again that I can exercise calm in what would seem to be a distressful situation.

Ming, out of concern, sought medical goods from a corner store while I found comfort in keeping my eyes closed while sprawled out on the floor and then couch. Wouldn’t you believe that it wasn’t any of the saline solution or eye drops that brought me relief (in fact, we never got to the point where I used them), but advice scoured from the internet.

In fact, dunking my head in a giant glass bowl of water repeatedly and viewing the world from my goldfish-esque perspective was a huge success. Within an hour my pain level had receded from 6 to 1, red bean popsicles had been consumed, and I had been served tea in the most amazing, most Asian of Asian tea cups.

This was an event of epic proportions, the evening in that we challenged the universe and received a profane answer; you can see the world as you want to, you just have to be willing to accept the weird ways in which it may make itself known.

A fucking crazy night to remember.

Experienced on 1 October, 2011