When I was a kid, Fourth of July meant a pool party and barbecue in my parents' friends' backyard. We never watched fireworks. I don't think there were any to go to. Just a pool party was fine with me. If I'm splashing around in the water, I'm happy.
When I was in my 30s. I once had an Independence Day party in my garden. We actually took turns reading the Declaration of Independence out loud until we'd done the whole document. I remember thinking, "Gee, it doesn't sound so terrible, what the British did. I mean, it wasn't RIGHT. But compared to all the atrocities that countries have committed against their colonies, it wasn't so bad!" Then I asked my assembled friends -- about 20 were present -- to raise their hands if they would have been eligible to vote in the new country that the Declaration created. Only one friend raised his hand. He was the only white male who owned property in my garden. That one solitary raised hand made a big impression on me. The democracy we live in NOW is still kinda-sorta. But it was hardly a democracy at ALL when it began.
And yet, it was undeniably a huge step at the time.
THIS YEAR'S FOURTH OF JULY
This is Tara and Nella, the Amazing WonderDog, with the Pups, during a trip to the beach last year:
Richmond is across the Bay from San Francisco. They have their fireworks every year on a barge in the Bay, on July 3rd.That presumably allows people to see fireworks two days in a row, since they could cross the Bay on the 4th to see the show in the Big City --- if it happened..
You see, there's always anxiety around Fourth of July fireworks in the Bay Area. Summer is fog season. Fog is the enemy of fireeworks. You end up standing there, shivering in the cold, praying a good stiff wind will blow the damn fog out of the way before the show is over, so you can see what's actually crackling and popping behind the clouds.
We stood on the wharf in Richmond, wrapped in coats and scarves, waiting for the show to start. It was a nice crowd. All ages, all colors. Lots of people, but not a big mob that crushed you. The sky was clear, at least where we were. But the fog was hanging around, oh yes. It blotted out our view of San Francisco across the Bay. Would it stay there through the show? Or would it travel east and ruin our evening?
We all cheered as the fireworks barge chugged by the wharf and then turned into a channel where it would perform. And then we waited.
Of course we waited. Does a fireworks show ever start on time? No! So part of seeing fireworks is spending a lot of time WAITING to see fireworks, because you should get there at least 45 minutes before they're SUPPOSED to start, so you'll get a good view. A little girl, 3-years-old maybe, standing in front of us, became very whiny and also very cold. Her daddy, who was a big big man, cuddled her and coaxed her to be patient.
And then finally, a half hour late, the show began.
The Little Girl shouted, as loud as she could, "I love it!!!!" I think it was her very first fireworks show.
This gives you a little bit of an idea. My camera seems to capture mainly the red tones. Anyhow, the fog very kindly agreed to stay away. Tara and the Little Girl and I oohed and ahed to our heart's content. WonderDog Nella, however, wasn't too crazy about the whole event. But she allowed herself to be consoled by the continual stream of treats Tara fed her.
Tara and I went home very happy, to her house, went to sleep and had a very nice breakfast the next morning. We were planning to take the ferry from Richmond to San Francisco at noon.
We had gotten up early and we had plenty of time, oodles of time, I mean we didn't have to hurry at ALL. You know how it is sometimes when you have SO MUCH time. We were just chatting about our lives, the world, whatever. YOU know. Suddenly Tara looked at the clock and it was noon and we had missed the ferry, so we BARTed into the city to go to the Asian Art Museum which, for some reason we thought was open.
Oh well. But not REALLY "oh well" because Tara and Nella had schlepped into town on BART, which isn't terrible but it's not the nicest way to spend your time, and now they would have to turn around and go home!
So we decided to take a stroll down Market Street. And I had to stop and take a photo of this lovely wall on the right, as is my wont. And Tara remembered that we had gone to a very nice rooftop bar right around the corner from that photogenic wall. Charmaine's Rooftop Bar and Lounge at 45 McAllister WAS open. They were having a party for Fourth of July, which you needed to buy a ticket to. However, the nice man simply couldn't resist two old dykes and a gorgeous service dog, so he just let us take the elevator up.
And we were the only ones there!
We both had fancy cocktails and we even danced to the pounding music.
The waitress, Lee Ann, was very friendly. And when it turned out that Tara's dog was named Nella, and Lee Ann had had a remarkable dog named NOLLA -- well, we all were delighted with the serendipity that had brought us all together on that rooftop on the Fourth of July.
And then people started arriving for the party. And it turned out it was a GAY party that we had stumbled into!
You can see in the photo on the right, the fog is ominously piling up behind Twin Peaks. Who knows if it'll flow over and block the San Francisco fireworks which of course won't be happening until it's dark?
Tara decided that she and Nella had had enough of the pounding disco. But I couldn't leave yet because I'd ordered a second cocktail. Not only did I have to finish it, I was a little wobbly already and not quite capable of going home. And then a very elegantly dressed man sat down on the bench across from me.
Sam and I started chatting, and he was charming enough to be impressed that I was a playwright. And when I told him about my last big show, about the true story of Eleanor Roosevelt's love affair with Lorena Hickok, a famous and very butch reporter, he was completely fascinated.
Well, there is NOTHING I
would rather do than tell someone about the saga of Hick and Eleanor. And it seemed there was nothing that Sam would rather do than hear that very saga. So we had a wonderful time together. Sam was wearing a very elaborate locket around his neck, which had the initial "G" on it. He told me it represented his husband, who had died. He said that having had this very deep and satisfying relationship "took the pressure off" of him finding someone new. I think he was saying that he was OPEN to getting romantically involved with someone again, but didn't have a DRIVE to find someone. He said, "It takes the pressure off" twice. I thought that was very interesting.
The photo below is of Sam with the man who let Tara and Nella and me in. He was the organizer of the party. His name was (something) Sincere. His last name was Sincere. He said to me, "You brought the party! You brought the party!" And I can see, when you're standing there wondering if ANYONE will show up, two old dykes and service dog would look really good to you.
Finally, I was ready to go home. I went underground to the MUNI station that has the theme, "I'm me, not meat."
How many cities have advertising campaigns like that in their subway stations? Huh? How many?? And they're saying "San Francisco is so OVER!" San Francisco is over, my ass! You tell this octopus below that San Francisco is OVER!
When I got off the Metro in the Castro, there was a very friendly man behind a table who was eager to tell me about a new religion in the neighborhood!
How exciting! Below you can read a little information on the new religion.
The friendly man told me there is a branch of the Church of Cosmic Consciousness just a few blocks away! And, if I join the Church, I will be able to buy SACRAMENTS -- but only for religious purposes, you understand. Why, they even deliver the sacraments to church members. These people are really SAINTLY!
Hmmm... As a Buddhist practitioner, I hear talk of Buddha Nature all the time. I'll bet there's a lot of overlap between that and Cosmic Consciousness! Having never tried psilocybin mushrooms in my youth, I might be open to adding another religion to the two I already have!
I wended my way home to the pups. I had no worry that they'd been freaked out by the continuous sound of firecrackers going off. You see, poodles were initially bred as hunting dogs and are therefore undisturbed by gunshot-like noise. At least my two are undisturbed. And there they were, sacked out on the couch.
A good Fourth of July was had by all!
All for now, Bloggellinis! Terry
Lilith Women's Theater | 547 Douglass St., San Francisco, CA 94114 www.LilithTheater.com