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The black and white came and crushed my groove (again) 

Wednesday, May 10 2006
Let's talk about one of the Seven Deadly Sins: envy. There are a lot of people who I envy, not so much for who they are but for what they have. For example, while others might want to be someone else, I just want to have the same things happen to me that have happened to other people. I envy those who are more successful.

The funny thing about envy is that it's really a sort of permanent waiting period, a Waiting for Godot, if you will. In order to envy something, you have to think that maybe in some bizarre universe you could also have the thing. For example, I don't envy the race car driver Danica Patrick because I have no interest in the sport and would hit the wall in .5 seconds anyway. However, I do envy Scarlett Johansson because I could definitely trade layered interchanges with Bill Murray or make out with Benicio Del Toro after the Oscars. Totally.

Usually I envy authors, like Sarah Vowell or David Sedaris. Heck, I envy Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City when she does a book tour, and she doesn't even exist. I also tend to envy starlets like Johansson and Chloé Sevigny and, at one point, even Winona Ryder (during the Johnny Depp years). I envy people who can buy houses. I envy people who have married musicians I would like to couple with. I envy people who raise miniature donkeys. I envy people who can beat me at Trivial Pursuit. But mostly I envy other writers, and I really, really envy Dave Eggers.

This week I went to Eggers' old stomping ground, which was also my old stomping ground when I first moved here. You see, we are connected and he doesn't even know it! (If you envy a person, it helps to somehow place them into your stratosphere.) Eggers came out here from Champaign, Ill.; I came out here from Champaign, Ill. He was messin' around near South Park before things really got rollin' for him; I was messin' around near South Park before things got somewhat rollin' for me. He developed an entire pirate empire; I wanted to start a Little River Band cover band called the Lonesome Losers (what's the connection you ask? LRB's Beeb Birtles is from Australia, a penal colony. Duh). Eggers lived in the Berkeley Hills; I lived in the Berkeley Hills. He had to raise his little brother all by himself; I ... OK, the comparison ends there.

So with Eggers in mind I hit the row of bars around South Park, close to where I had been an intern at The Nose magazine, which was housed in what is now the Academy of Art College at the foot of Federal Street. My internship wasn't very successful because I was too intimidated by all the guys there. I envied them. Most of my days were spent burning "bullet holes" in postal hats with a lighter or fetching stuff for the office manager.

I wanted to try out the 21st Amendment Brewery across from South Park, because they have this really cool iPod night on Wednesdays where anyone can bring in their tunes and DJ for a bit. The Academy was hosting some art show on the corner, so well-suited, self-conscious urbanites were pouring onto the sidewalk holding glasses of wine like they were the last shipment of bird flu vaccine. Dude, I couldn't wait to crash that party.

But first I walked my pooch and reminisced about the time that Dave Eggers and I spent in the area (we were separate, of course, but equal). Then I spent a leisurely lap thinking about the beer that the Amendment brews, and I was gonna head right there, but then decided to move my car to right in front of the bar, so I could wave at my dog in the back seat. When I got behind the wheel, they were playing a Social Distortion song on the radio that you, like, never hear, so I sat and listened to it first. When I finally backed out of my spot and prepared to cross the street, all of a sudden a big black-and-white came and crushed my groove (again!). I got pulled over for having an expired registration. I could see the 21st Amendment glistening across the street, an oasis of amateur DJs and Hefeweizen. (Now, I'm not sure if Dave Eggers has ever been pulled over in this neighborhood, but it wouldn't surprise me.)

The cop bent down at my door, right hand on his holster, and asked, in essence, if I knew how screwed I was. He had cropped bright red hair and his teeth were abnormally white. They poked out from beneath his top lip like a row of Mardi Gras beads, but I could tell this Cajun was in no mood to party. No sirree Bob, not even if I flashed my breasts. "I can have you towed," he said to me gravely. I gave him my best "Gosh golly! I had no idea, officer!" spiel. The people in the Amendment were starting to notice the hapless chick across the street and chuckled into their cigarettes. The cop gave me a warning, and, to be doubly sure that I wouldn't drive again until I got the situation fixed, he escorted me to the Bay Bridge to make sure I went directly home and docked my ride.

So I am still waiting to go to the 21st Amendment, just like I am waiting to have a humor piece published in the New Yorker, or to have something put out by McSweeney's, or to go on a shopping spree with Chloé Sevigny. But first I have to get my car registered. Oh yeah, I also envy people who can afford their car registration. To be continued ...

About The Author

Katy St. Clair


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