I was riding the 6 into downtown one recent evening to attend a meeting of my playwrighting group when a loud young fellow with a loud blonde buzz cut and a louder foreign accent loudly stomped onto the bus loudly condemning the overall wimpiness of San Franciscans. This time I was sitting in the back, and he loudly took a seat near me, still loudly condemning the overall wimpiness of San Franciscans. I thought I might try and calm him down.
I asked him, “Where are you from?”
“Oh, yeah? Who’s your team?”
He did not expect this. Testing me, he said, “City!”
“You mean Manchester City.”
He did not expect me to know what he meant. Obviously, I kept the conversation away from the 2010 World Cup and England’s embarrassing performance, and I managed to keep him fairly quiet for a while, but he soon returned to condemning the overall wimpiness of San Franciscans. A homeless mentally ill individual sitting near us took exception to this and threatened the Englishman. The Englishman returned fire with an impressive volley of threats, insults and expletives that so intimidated the homeless man that he fled at the next stop.
Now one thing about me that you might not know is that one of my specialties as an actor consists of playing villains. I happen to have the “gift” of being able to smile exactly like Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Sometimes I can even impersonate his voice perfectly. So when my new English friend turned to a fourth person and launch another stream of invective condemning the overall wimpiness of San Franciscans, I waited for my moment. Finally, I quietly spoke:
“That’s what I like about San Francisco. I’m mentally ill, and I don’t stand out.”
The Englishman looked at me, and I smiled at him, and he got off at the next stop.
I received a sitting ovation.
Vonn Scott Bair