My Encounter

I rode in a Lyft from my place (Haight) to Chinatown around dusk last night. I got dropped off in front of a noodle-house on a busy street, restaurants lining my side and 20-story hotels towering down on the opposite side. Porter texted me, informing it would be another ten minutes until she arrived. Therefore, I strayed off under an awning of a Chinese restaurant, staying out of the way.

I wore a rose-printed button-down and a pair of brown pants. Hanging from my sides were two sports-bottles, concealing wine because our arranged restaurant prohibited alcohol. I gazed up at the blue-bulb Christmas lights dangling from the awning and composed photographs in my mind. Then I was jabbed out of my escapism by an intruding question.

“What are you doing out here?” asked a 50-something-year-old man, sporting round, brow-bar sunglasses, stripped, loose linen pants and a cardigan.

I glanced over at him and said, “Just waiting on someone.”

“Oh, someone?” he checked, raising an eyebrow. “Not just anyone?”

I laughed, “Nope, ha, waiting on a friend.” I glanced to my right, trying to avoid the situation.

He proceeded to walk away for a few steps, then stopped, looked back and said, “Well, I’m staying in that hotel,” pointing across the street, “if you are looking for just anyone.”

I smiled, nodding my head. Then he carried on his way up the block. I proceeded to shake my head, laughing at the absurdity of that confrontation. Then I glanced back up the block, and about thirty yards away, he stood in the center of the sidewalk, staring in my direction. Is this fucking guy watching me? I thought. Then following that thought, the man proceeded to pull down his sunglasses, making his intentions clear.

My god! I thought, this man is a fucking creep. I swiveled my head around, feeling uncomfortable on a crowded street, like I was being hunted. I yanked out my phone from my pants-pocket and aimlessly tapped open random apps. Nonetheless, my mind remained fixated on the predator. Was he still there? I thought. I had to look.

I peeked to my left and saw the man’s back facing me, he was walking up the block. He’s leaving, I’m safe, I felt. I eased up, rocked my head back and gazed up at the lights. My mind was wandering to more trivial thoughts like my days living in China. Then my eyes drifted away from the lights, following the cars’ tail-lights trailing up the street, then along my sidewalk and boom! There he was, hunched over, peeking behind the indent of a restaurant stone wall. Holy shit, I thought, this man is relentless.

I pulled my head back, again, refraining from making eye contact. He’s there, I knew, no need to verify. He’s waiting to see who I’m waiting for, despite my “someone” will not make any difference to the bizarre situation. Porter must be close, I thought. I don’t want to subject her to this depravity and perverted behavior, though, she must encounter it more than I can imagine. This city–better yet this world–is infested with sexually-deprived, shameless pigs who will ignore all decency for a brief flicker of entertainment for their hungry eyes. It’s comical and twisted.

A couple minutes later I spotted Porter waiting on the opposite side of the crosswalk. I strolled down towards her, away from the man. We hugged and kissed; certain the man witnessed my “someone.” Then I pulled her away and led her around the corner of the block.

“Let’s go for a stroll and down this wine,” I said, flashing the two bottles in my hand.

“Sounds good to me,” she said.