Dear Jenny

One of many many nights at 527 Haight (also known as the “Weenie Ranch”) I noticed a stream of people coming in and out of a flat across the street. I had spent plenty of nights where I was drinking Schlitz malt liquor and eating cheese popcorn and I sensed an opening for something new, which gave me the courage to cross the street and let myself into your party. You greeted me at the top of the stairs and it was one of those delicious moments of instant chemistry. I loved your cropped dyed-red hair, hot lips and short skirt, and you had a gleam in both dark eyes. The party continued and within the hour we were going at it in your bedroom. We got sweaty and the bed collapsed beneath us with a crash. We laughed and I loved you right then. 

Perhaps I recognized you from that bar called the Armadillo down on the corner. I used to go there by myself or with Luke or Johnny O or Julian and wait for hours to play pool in the beery crowd. Skill and nerves of steel required to win and hold the table. After we met sometimes we’d go there together, and to the Alamo Square Saloon up on the corner of Fillmore and Fell. I loved to play pool in those days—our own sort of jousting, lances thrusting, a good shot getting a rise of appreciation from the crowd. 

In those days I was driving a silver diesel VW Rabbit with red sheet metal devil horns stuck in the slot of the moon roof and a Motley Crüe tape in the dash. The Crüe are more than sort of a joke, but I loved the sound of that one album without knowing that they really did have some Sunset strip street chops and Dolls blood. 

Once I came by your flat during the day and your mysterious housemate finally showed his face. You’d mentioned Charles a number of times but I hadn’t seen any evidence. Thing was, “Charles” was my friend Erin from Lowell High! Erin who had eaten a whole fucking sheet of acid and was found playing his flute in the top of a tree. Erin who had disappeared from school and was rumored to have ended up in the mental hospital in Napa. I never saw him again—until he was your roommate Charles. I was glad to see that he had survived, and not that surprised that he had to craft a new identity to do so. 

I was on my way to meet you at the Albion one night and some guy ran a light and T-boned me as I was coming down Guerrero crossing 19th. I managed to get to the bar and back home with you to my mom’s place on Church Street, but the car was done, I had to have it towed away. 

Some months later, you had moved to your own little downstairs place on Fillmore between Page and Oak. I would park the car on the sidewalk—you could still do that in those days—and come in for a screw and who knows what we talked about. I can’t remember a word we said. 

I have a photo of you coming out of North Beach Pizza on Grant Street where you worked one evening when I showed up to pick you up that says it all. Slightly out of focus, your hair is swinging and you’re saying something with red lipstick and a sneer. That may have been the night that I sideswiped some rich kids in their little BMW on the way up Franklin. My lane was disappearing and they wouldn’t let me in, so I just gave them a little push. I tried to get away, but there’s no way my little heap could outrun a 318i. We had a little conversation that must have ended well enough. I was always excited on my way to meet you. 

Jenny, you always had a smile that said you knew something that you weren’t sharing. Perhaps you were both pleased and a little amused with me, or with yourself for keeping company with me. We drifted apart for no particular reason other than you wanted more of a man. There isn’t any more to the story—even so, I’ll never forget you.