The other night Jackson and I walked up to the rose garden in front of the Mission. I'm sorry -- the rose garden in front of the big, spooky, horrible symbol of oppression. [Ed.: Exactly how narcissistic to you have to be to link yourself?] There we met our neighbors, TM and AM. TM being the mom, and AM being the most logical, beautiful five-year-old in the world. She's like a miniature Marilyn Vos Savant, and TM is exactly like Meryl Streep's rehab roommate in Postcards from the Edge, [Ed.: She did it again!] i.e., she's both extremely funny and on the wagon, and who knew that was even possible?
So we're sitting on the grass looking at this really ugly caterpillar that AM has trapped in an upturned Frisbee and is force-feeding clover, when this skinny lunatic with a rolled up umbrella starts violently chopping and hacking the heads off some white roses one bed over. Petals are flying everywhere. Then he sees us looking at him and he starts going, "Those bitches. They hit me with their goddamned Frisbee and didn't even apologize!" And then he walks around us and starts appraising some roses right next to us. I'm wondering if the ugly caterpillar is now inhabiting the Frisbee of Previous Violation, but he ignores it and starts yelling, "You're all voyeurs, you're all fucking voyeurs, and you know what? I feel fucking sorry for you. I really do. I pity you." And he starts whacking the shit out of some roses only six feet away.
Now, TM is nodding sympathetically at the beginning of his little speech, presumably working on the Don't Rattle The Cage Of An Already-Agitated Mind theory, so I decide to follow her cautious lead and restrain myself, because I always go the opposite way, I get very confrontational with the insane, kind of on the Black Bear theory, i.e., rattle lots of pots and pans to try to scare them away from the campsite. Then very reasonably TM steps up and says to him, "Yes, well, that's too bad, but I really don't feel comfortable with that kind of language around the kids." Which I'm sure is just a fascinating insight for him, but it doesn't stop him from enjoying a little more outraged hacking and slashing, so we gather our children and our ugly caterpillar and hike up out of range while the madman moves down to a new rose bed. A couple of earnest blond co-eds next to try to educate him on less drastic garden maintenance techniques, but judging by the body language they only get pissed off, and then Our Man in Havana storms off into a eucalyptus stand.
So we're all rolling around in the grass and pretending to be monsters rrAAARRR! and I'm keeping one eye on a couple of potentially child-mauling off-leash German shepherds, and within the space of, like, ten minutes we see three police cruisers drive by reeeeaal slow. And TM tells me how when she lived in San Francisco she once called the cops on her neighbors who were beating the shit out of each other and nobody ever showed up, but Hey! Santa Barbara! Skip your meds and abuse some roses and ten minutes later six cops have you up against a black-and-white in handcuffs. Which is exactly what happened. SIX COPS got skinny mad umbrella guy in cuffs on the steps of the church of our blessed disease-carrying, Indian-killing Spanish fathers and stuffed him into a squad car and drove him away.