Little did I know how much the Chinese Gods of Divination love a good joke.
It was a success, for there I found Rosie the Cat, and took her away and lived happily ever after. Other than that, it was a disaster so stupid you can’t help but laugh.
In North Beach, on the corner of Grant and Green, just above the Hawaiian Bar, with mice and cockroaches, and Hawaiian music on the jukebox of the bar downstairs. All night long, loud lyrics like: “Hooka lakka shooka lakka, wikki wikky ogaloo!” Over and over again. The guys downstairs had the consolation of alcohol to take the edge off these songs; I had nothing.
However, I worked an odd shift at the Westbury Hotel at this time, from seven in the evening until three am. This saved me from several hours of Shooka Lakka Hooka Lakka, for which I was grateful.
It was also interesting, leaving work at three in the morning. The busses run infrequently that late, and taxis were expensive, so I’d walk through the Stockton Street tunnel and through a deserted Chinatown at three. All the shop’s trashcans pungent with strange chinese vegetables and worse, but these barricades didn’t stop me.
At home at last. But two doors up at Wumpers Bar, they had after-hours entertainment with Perry and the Pumpers. I’ll give the Pumpers one thing: they were plenty energetic. So, to the strains of pumping rock and roll, it was time to hit the hay.
The bars and shops on Grant have lots of garbage, and trashcans filled with empty bottles. So much that the trash companies come every night, sometimes three times during the night. The growling trucks and the crashing din of the bottles leant an exotic ambiance to the late hours on North Beach.
Luckily, the mornings are pretty quiet.
Except one day, I’m awakened by a loud, repeating banging. A voice is chanting “Go**amned Phonebooth! Go**amned Phonebooth! Go**amned Phonebooth!”
Rising to peer blearily from my window at the sunny morning, below my window, a stringy unkempt fellow is kicking the back wall of the phonebooth below. A burly fellow across the street calls out “Hey!”, meaning Stop, or maybe What the hell are you doing?
Stringy guy sticks his head outside the phonebooth door, and screams, “It took my dime!” The guy across the street, a big guy, makes a fist and yells to knock it off. Stringy guy, glaring, makes off down the street.
I go back to bed.
I’m awakened by a loud, repeated banging. A voice is chanting. I rise and peer from the window. Stringy is back.
Now, the mailbox has been tipped over and lies flat on the sidewalk. Stringy guy is kicking the mailbox over and over again.
“Go**amned Mailbox!” he screams, “Go**amned Mailbox! Go**amned Mailbox! Go**amned Mailbox!”
Ah, life in North Beach.