It was quite a scene Sunday afternoon at 12 Galaxies. More than 150 people, half of them 10 years old and under, came out, making for a substantially lower age than usual at my readings. But this was much more than a reading; in fact, I probably didn't read for longer than eight minutes, total. The entertainment also included The Timeouts, a mostly cover band made up of dads who wear their names on their unicolored shirts, like they're the indie Wiggles. San Francisco also includes the Sippy Cups, who are far more elaborate and psychedelic, but there are all kinds of bands in an scene. And kiddie music, in certain cities, is definitely becoming a scene.
This particular scene also included The Devilettes, a group of burlesque vixens who have transmuted their talents to something called Pipsqueak A-Go-Go, which, believe me, the dads enjoy as much as their kids. There's nothing like seeing a bunch of women wearing colorful go-go outfits and dancing like animals to get the juices flowing. The kids enjoyed doing their moves, too, by the way.
My only critique of the event is that the bathrooms were pretty gross. But what do you expect when you have an afternoon indie-rock concert for kids at a club in the Mission? Damn, we had fun.
Afterward, I took Beth Lisick, the talented and charming writer who had organized the event for me, out to dinner. Beth has a four-year-old son. Her husband runs a recording studio, working with bands like Deerhoof. Can you say alternaparents? I thought you could.
We had a nice dinner. After going over to my friend Ben's house and playing his Wii with Katie and Dakota (just like we used to do in Austin!), I went home for an early bedtime.
At 5:30 AM I woke up. And I was very, very itchy.
I took a couple of Advil and went back to bed. But when I woke up for good three hours later, my entire torso and back were throbbing, sunburn red, as were the palms and the soles of my feet. Then I got into the shower, which was a big mistake. It felt like I was being attacked by bees. An allergic reaction was upon me.
Regina and I spent most of the day on the phone trying to diagnose the condition. I couldn't really remember what I'd eaten the night before, due to other consumption, but I did remember that it had tasted fresh enough. She said she thought I might have contracted strep on my travels. I held fast to my allergy diagnosis. After some generic Safeway brand Claritan didn't help, I decided to behave like any good bourgeois business traveller would: I asked the concierge at my hotel to contact the house doctor.
My health insurance situation improved a lot on January 1, when I was admitted, for the first time, into the Screenwriter's Guild. Whereas a month ago going to a doctor in another city would have cost me some major credit-card debt, now I could make an appointment with the knowledge that 90 percent of that debt would be erased within a couple of weeks. It's a substantial difference.
That's how I found myself, at 4:30 on a Monday afternoon, facing a Chinese-American man in a two-piece black nylon workout suit. His office was covered in photographs featuring him standing next to various celebrities that he's cured over the years, including Nicolas Cage, Don Johnson, and Yasmine Bleeth.
"I once saved Gene Kelly's life," he said to me.
His name was Dr. Savage.
Dr. Savage checked me out. He examined my ears, nose, and throat, and quickly determined that strep wasn't present. He said that sometimes certain fish and pomegranate combinations caused allergies in people. I hadn't had that combination in particular the night before, but there had been other odd pairings. He quickly scribbled out a medicinal cocktail for me, and told me it would clear up in a few days.
Then he asked me what I did for a living. I told him. He seemed to approve.
"You know what you should write?" he said.
"A book called How To Get Rid Of Impotence For Free. Then they'd be lining up across the street to see you read."
"I've heard worse ideas," I said.
Then he stuck a needle in my butt and pumped it full of Benadryl.