Bobby and I are preparing a quick dinner and discussing film, and the subject turns to Wes Anderson. I ask him if he’s seen the trailer for the upcoming Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom. I think it looks like an amazing film, and I want to share it with him.
Since I am making manakeesh (a sort of Lebanese pizza), I ask Bobby to go get my iPad. He looks upstairs, but it isn’t there. He looks downstairs. Not there either. He even walks down to my car, but nothing. Then I look around the usual places, but my luck isn’t any better. Finally I fired up Apple’s ‘Find My Phone’ app on iCloud. Every time I misplaced my phone I’ve use this app, and it has always shown that my phone was (figuratively speaking) right on my head. A minute later, I am looking at this:
Zooming out, I find that my iPad is indeed in Sausalito:
That’s distressing in that my house is down at the bottom of the screen, where I put the red speech bubble. So the iPad isn’t in my house, or even down in my car. Strangely enough, it appears to be two valleys over in our little town of Sausalito, a considerable distance for an iPad to travel without assistance.
I mentally backtrack. I remember seeing it while driving furiously uphill in my car, intent on catching a bus into San Francisco to hang out with Bobby after work. Sitting at the bus stop, I realized that I’d missed the bus and that even if the bus had come on time, I was still very late in getting to SF to meet Bobby. To make things worse, traffic was crawling past the bus stop at roughly my standard (though admittedly fast) walking speed. I made the easy decision and texted Bobby to tell him that I wouldn’t be coming down to San Francisco, and that he should just come meet me in Sausalito. I returned to my car and drove down the hill to my home. Without my iPad, which I remembered with painful clarity was sitting on the bench in the Spencer Avenue Southbound bus shelter.
Ding ding ding damn.
I tell Bobby that I’ll be back soon, get into my car, and drive up Spencer Avenue to the bus stand, where I find two people kissing while they wait for the Marin Airporter. It’s all terribly romantic, but no iPad. That’s okay… Thanks to the Find My Phone app on my iPhone, I know roughly where my iPad was.
The problem is ‘roughly’.
I drive down Spencer again and make my way up to the top of Santa Rosa Ave. I park on the hairpin turn embracing the top of that particular canyon. There are no street lights and there are homes scattered around the hillsides both above and below the road. I park in roughly the area where the iPad is shown on the map.
I pick a likely house, well-lit and prosperous-looking. I walk up and push the doorbell button. I don’t hear anything. I push it again. Then I knock, and behind the door I hear an explosion of barks spanning three dog octaves. Then an impatient voice yelling “Who is it?!”
I never know how to answer that question. I’m still figuring out who I am, and probably will be for the rest of my life. ”I’m an artist” seems pretentious, but “I’m a creative yet insecure 15-year-old trapped in the rapidly-aging body of a 50-year-old” sounds pathetic. Should I mention that I’m gay? It’s clearly an important part of who I am.
After thinking about this for a good 30 seconds, I answer through the closed door “It’s Ron, I’m a neighbor.”
The door opens and an older guy looks out at me suspiciously. ”This might sound weird, but did you find an iPad a little earlier today? It’s telling me that it’s somewhere around here.” He smiles and says no, he hasn’t seen one, and wishes me luck.
I go to the next house. This one is less welcoming. Three flights of rickety, crooked, creaking stairs lead down to a dark door through which I can see what is clearly an Old Person’s House. An old person who hasn’t redecorated or done any maintenance since the Nixon administration. I press against the doorbell, and hear nothing. After a minute, I press again. Nothing. I knock, and I hear a chair creak, footsteps, and a man appears at the door, staring at me through the glass. His hair is gray and shaggy. He looks like a grumpy Einstein on a bad hair day.
“Hi, I’m a neighbor” I say, lamely.
He opens the door and stares at me. The porch light comes on.
“Um, I lost my iPad and now it’s telling me it’s around here somewhere. Did you by any chance find one?”
He stares at me, then says “Nope” and shuts the door. The porch light goes off.
I climb back up to the street and pick my next target. I decide to go for a dicey-looking home on the other side of the street. The path leading up to the house crosses a broken curb, past a car up on blocks (Honest to god! In Sausalito!) and various piles of stuff covered with tarps. Through the windows I can see bare walls decorated with a single photocopied flyer for a ‘Truck for SALE’.
I press the doorbell, hear nothing, and knock on the door. After a moment, it opens.
I’m face-to-face with the Most Stoned Man on the Planet.
He stares at me, his eyes red and puffy, and his body swaying slowly from side to side. He stares at me some more. After a moment he focusses a little and says “Uh?”
“I know this sounds weird, but have you found an iPad today?”
His body becomes just a hair less relaxed, he half smiles, and he says “Oh, man, that’s so weird! How do you know that?”
I explain that I have tracking software and that it’s telling me that the iPad is here. He walks back to his kitchen, reaches over the bar, and pulls out my iPad in its bright-red case. For a full minute he stands there , holding it up, almost modeling it for me. I don’t say anything. Is he going to ask for a reward?
“Wow, I’m not even going to make you prove this is yours. You’re here, so it must be yours. It’s like fate! Fate!“ He drifts back towards me and hands me the iPad. I exhale loudly.
“Wait, man, you have to come in, this is so great, I didn’t even want this around, you know? My name’s Brando! Brando! Well, no, it’s Brandon, but you can call me Brando!“
I walk in. At this point I had started noticing his living room. Instead of a sofa, the living room has four TV dinner tables and six folding chairs. There is stuff scattered everywhere on the floor, but mostly molecular-like constructions in various shapes and configurations. If I were to draw an architectural floor plan of his living room, it would look something like this:
Each of the small folding TV dinner tables is also covered with things. One has perhaps fifty dice, roughly sorted by the number of sides. Some have the traditional six sides, others have 20, 30, and even 100 sides. The 2o-sided dice are some of the largest I’ve ever seen, a dozen orbs the size of my fist. Other tables have parts for constructing the molecular objects, and one is covered with sketch pads and roughly torn pieces of paper.
The net effect is almost as horrifying to me as if there were body parts scattered around.
My host is looking at me expectantly and proud, as if waiting for me to compliment the magnificence of his interior design. ”Umm, these things are great!” I say, broadly gesturing around the room at the many shapes scattered everywhere. ”What are they?”
Brandon’s grin grows wider, and he says “Well, that’s not a simple thing to answer. They’re like kid things, but they’re so much more, you know. It’s like a model of the entire universe.” He gets down on his knees and starts rummaging through bins of parts. “They’re called Zome! Zome!” He pulls out a booklet and gives it to me. It’s the Zome Manual 2.1. “Take it. I have lots of them.” I flip to a random page, and I wonder if Zome drove this man mad.
Finally I make my excuses and leave. But as I am driving away, a thought enters my head that scares me more than anything else so far.
I want to go back and spend more time with Brando.