Thursday, June 02, 2011

I saw the guy at 9th and Howard, maybe 15 minutes after the race had begun, getting ready to be one of the naked people or almost naked people running the Bay to Breaker.

He had on two things. The cover-all that he'd worn to the site, and jockey shorts which were transparent except for the white waistband and the white fabric that covered his genitals.

The coverall was bunched around one ankle. He was hopping around and having a tough time getting it over that foot. Nice body--worked outness but still lithe, neither steroiding nor going for the look.

But the amazing thing to look at was his face. He looked shy and panicky. This wasn't how he'd envisioned stripping down for the race would be. He kept hopping and trying to push the coverall over his foot.

I thought if I were and looked older I could have somehow communicated advice to him. Like sitting down and taking off the shoe, or taking the clothes over the shoe in more favorable circumstances.

Shy? Yes, he really looked shy. I forgot that costuming is one way for shy people to strike up a conversation, and presumably naked is a great costume for striking up conversations about getting naked. Maybe that's why he was panicking--thinking the great person to meet was watching and thinking he was looking unsuave.

Since I couldn't think of a way to helpfully tell him to lighten up, I stopped looking. I think he thought that everyone in the universe, or at least everyone in the race, tens of thousands of people strewn over blocks, or at least everyone on that corner, was looking at him, which didn't help him, so I didn't look.

I looked around the busy corner and didn't see anyone looking at him It's about fifteen blocks after the starting line, the first place the race turns, a location of many porta-johns. It's a place where people stood to watch or to decide at what exact moment to join race in progress. Three bumble bees were deciding when to join they race. They had what my hopper needed--people in exactly the same situation. Many others were deciding at what moment to enter. People who had dealt with the new ban on alcohol by getting really drunk before it started were standing, laughing, trying to think what they might be trying to think about. I don't think anyone was looking at my guy.

One person who didn't see him I heard on the phone the next day. Convention goer--I could tell by the name tag. He sounded like a salt of the earth man checking in with his wife. He said, among other things, "I watched it for quite a while. They say some people run it naked, but I didn't see any."

The "I didn't see any" sounded apologetic, like he hadn't had the quintessential experience to report back on. He was there for the trade mark convention, so maybe he was particularly drawn to seeing an event that wouldn't happen in a lot of places in its most unusual form.

He didn't say so, but he saw lots of costumes. Naked people you might miss, but people in costumes are very frequent throughout the race. The rest of the day the city is more interesting that usual because on any sidewalk you might come across an adult in baby clothes, or a grizzly bear, or who knows?

On day after the Bay to Breakers, I saw a man in a monk's robe on the sidewalk and it took my a bit to decide that he was an actual monk. Partly because I remember this was the day after, costuming was greatly lessened, though never absent in San Francisco. Partly I knew he was a monk because he had the monk's robes and the face of a harried pressured business executive.

Anyone might dress as anything to run the Bay to Breakers, but a harried pressured business executive wouldn't dress up as a monk on a Monday.

This was not Saint Francis' dream, that a brown-robed man have a face looking like it was formed by the pressure of the world in general.

In Franco Zefferelli's movie about Saint Francis, it shows him being wordly and party down without being happy, and shows him giving stuff away, and then shows him back to the camera, stuffless, naked and happy, looking at Italy at its most beautiful (an optimistic version of the world) and opening his arms to take it all in, the scene right here and all creation.

The Monday monk clothes man wasn't living a life that would make getting there easy for him.