modern technology

I was sitting at the bus stop on Sunset and Lucille, waiting for the bus. There was a Black guy, late forties, waiting with me. He was rapping along to his personal CD player, barely keeping up with the singer on the other end of his duct-taped earphones.

Last person in the world/ you want to fuck with/ Kentucky fried cracker/ mother fuckin’ baller…

I had one an eye on him, glancing sideways, and an eye on my own newish sort-of-smart phone. The touch screen was smeared with fingerprints, and as I swiped my fingers across the “keyboard,” I worried, just a little, that my smart phone is making me stupid.

I had had a third date the night before. It was after my first full day of work, and only a few days after my dog got jumped at the run. I spent the day dodging pictures of women in latex sent to me by my first date, now affectionately named “Christian Slater latex man” and extensive text messages about nothing interesting from my second date, “touchy feely.” I liked them both well enough, but was feeling a little concerned about where our relationships might be headed.

It seems to me that that both dogs and people in L.A. are a little less socialized, a little less subtle, and a little more dangerous. The rapper moved onto even more offensive lyrics. He had a calculating look in his eye, but he was very polite. I dove deeper into the void of my phone.

I wasn’t at all certain that this date would occur. I wanted to cancel. I planned on canceling. I hoped he’d cancel. But, it didn’t happen. I changed the venue. I manipulated the time. I dragged him from his original plan to my part of town with no plan at all. Still, he was game.

He called me from the corner at 9 p.m. that night, but he couldn’t hear me on the other end. “Ah,” I thought, “be careful what you wish for,” for now I had a guy standing on some corner on Sunset Boulevard relying on his rebellious, broken down phone to connect. My smart and smudgy phone couldn’t relate. Though I admit there was a momentary surge of hope, I did my due diligence and left my house, walked down to Sunset, and called one last time. He picked up.

“I can’t hear you, but maybe you can hear me,” he said. And he told me where he was. I couldn’t squelch out after that.

And so we met, and drank a beer. He was nice. And a filmmaker, which is what I do, too -when I’m very lucky. But I wanted to be home with my dog instead of out with a stranger pretending to be nice. Unlike those broken down machines that keep doing what they’re born to do, I failed at my anthropological mission.

Hell, he’s not from around here, anyway.

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