Fishy (1995)

Thursday; late afternoon. The violet hour immediately after sunset, when the pavement is still hot, but the air isn’t. Our stomachs are full of this year’s trendy pizza: artichoke hearts, anchovies, feta cheese, and a bitter sinking feeling.

The goateed, pony-tailed fortysomething clerk behind the counter at the Grant street postcard shop dispenses advice to someone on the other end of the telephone line. We look at the lacquered brass pens under the glass, but listen to the Postcard Guru.

“I don’t care what he tells you,“ the Postcard Love Guru says into the phone, “‘I think,’ ‘I feel’—that’s bullshit; anyone can say anything.”

Then we do the lamest possible thing, the only thing we can think to do: walk down to the end of Pier 39. The shops are closing, and the tourists’ preteen children arrive, alone or in clumps, at the video arcades. Arm in arm, we stand on the second deck of the pier, outside one of those seafood restaurants. The kind that serve chowder in a bread bowl, and charge $6 a glass for a central valley wine. Romantic couples sit at the tables behind us, and gaze with saccharine obsession at one another.

We look down at the sea lions hauled out on the old yacht docks, rolling over, barking, feeling self satisfied. The last red of the sun warms the purple in clouds over Marin County. I realize, with tired effort, that the crisp, fishy air, the sea lions’ barking, will have left us by tomorrow. I turn away from you, cross my arms against the deepening chill. You want the twenty minutes after sunset to stretch on two or three weeks, until you’re sick of it, you want to grab the sunset, and just hold onto it, and not forget it, make it last just another minute.

“My last night,” you say, sniffing.

“Yeah,” I say. We hug, and you press your face into my shoulder.

“Six weeks,” I say, “It’ll only take me six weeks to save up enough. Just wait six weeks,” I say.

A man on honeymoon says to his new wife, “I feel—”

“That’s bullshit,” you say. And the hell of it is, you’re right.