The Lion & the Lioness at the Downtown Berkeley BART

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Good Evening:

“That’s right, you are lyin’ all right.”

I took Monday off to attend Theatre Bay Area’s annual conference, which this year took place at the Berkeley Rep. When I climbed up the stairs from the Downtown Berkeley BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station to street level, I heard the above sentence and wondered what was happening and which “lyin'” was intended. Lyin’ as in laying down, or lyin’ as in deceiving?

I found the young couple involved in the argument. They were less than 25 years old, he was white with a scruffy short beard, she was mixed race with cornrows and stood only 5 feet tall. He had lain down on the sidewalk, so he could have been lying in both senses of the word. They had a variety of backpacks and duffel bags, and I couldn’t tell if they were homeless, busking, hitchhiking cross-country, or some combination of the above. He was smoking what was undoubtedly a hand-rolled cigarette, you know, with tobacco. Yeah, that’s it, tobacco.

“You’re right, I’m lyin,’ baby, I’m the king of the jungle.”

“No, you’re lyin’ because you lie around all day and lie to me while the lioness has to do all the work and hunt and kill and then you just swaaaaaagger over and take whatever you want.”

Oh. That third word, with the exact same sound. Lion. She had unleashed a nice triple pun. I proceeded onward to the conference, which I thought was pretty good this year–ran into a lot of old friends. Later that morning, as I walked from the Roda theater to the Rep’s rehearsal spaces on Center Street, I walked past the lion and lioness again. He was still lyin’ on the sidewalk “working” on what was undoubtedly a hand-rolled cigarette, you know, with tobacco. Yeah, that’s it, tobacco. She was working an acoustic guitar and singing a great bluesy folk song that was either her own composition or a song that she performed so well that she had made it her own. To be fair, he did a little bit of work; he kept an eye on the open guitar case as passersby tossed in their spare change.

The lioness and the lion. Yes, she had that right.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–I can’t wait for the song that she will eventually and inevitably write about him.

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