It was my first summer at the Bridge, long before the guy in the laundromat asked me if I went there often.
One hot day, a guy with a guitar showed up and sat down just beyond the sidewalk across the street from the vendors. The guy started playing his guitar and singing enthusiastically. He wasn’t very good, but I believe in supporting people who try. I asked my friend Mateo if he knew the guy; Mateo told me no.
The guy was playing what radio stations call “classic rock,” and I said I’d just about have to give him a dollar if he played something by the Grateful Dead. I didn’t have many dollars in those days, but I had even less music in my life, hardly ever the Grateful Dead.
On the way to the restroom, I stopped to talk to the guy.
Do you know anything by the Grateful Dead? I asked him.
He looked at me, and I thought oh, no because he had crazy eyes. I can’t explain what made them crazy. Maybe they didn’t focus right. They just didn’t look the way people’s eyes normally look. I knew he was not someone I could handle in my life at the moment.
He started talking really fast. He didn’t have any Grateful Dead songs in this book, but he thought he had one in his other book, it was in the car, he had a car, it was parked up at the rest area, if it started raining, he was going to put his guitar in the car because rain was the enemy of the guitar, he had water and electricity out at his place.
At that point he took a breath, and I said ok, see you later, and steered well clear of him when I came back down from the restroom.
That was the best pick up line anyone has ever used on me. Water and electricity. Ha! It didn’t work (even though I was homeless at the time and didn’t have water or electricity, much less a place), but it was a great line.
Is that how you guys pick up women in New Mexico? I asked Mateo. By offering water and electricity?
It turns out that Mateo did know who the guy was. He was the guy who’d come to the Bridge before to play guitar and sing badly, curse loudly at tourists, and stalk women. I knew those eyes were crazy.