Sunday, August 15, 2010


Several months ago, I was living in the Mission. Along my walk to work, I spotted a poster of a woman in a fairy godmother outfit. She looked something like Lily Tomlin, but not.

Pobrecito, I thought. Shouldn't it be pobrecita? And why was she a poor thing?

The word was assembled like a ransom note.

The image got under my skin in a strange way. I'd be feeling sorry for myself, obsessing over the cataclysmic changes I was making in my life, and then I'd walk by the poster.


When I scraped my knee as a kid, my mom would kiss it better. "Oh, le pauvre," she'd say, a gentle reminder that it wasn't so bad as all that.

My friend P's mom spoke Spanish. She'd call him Pobrecito in the same tone of voice. Poor boy. Isn't it awful?

Eventually, I moved downtown. I take a different route to work now, coming from the opposite direction. One morning, I see another pobrecito poster.

This time, it's Catwoman.

Or, someone in a Catwoman costume. Why the masculine form of the word?

Are they cross-dressers? Transgender? Or is the "poor thing" the person looking at them?

Is pobrecito a band, maybe? Or a poster artist? Is this his body of work?

Pobrecito follows me into work, sneaks in on me during the day.

It's entirely possible the answer is something depressingly ordinary. In a sense, I don't want to know. The mystery sustains me, in a quiet way.

Thursday, walking home from work, I see a new one.

I don't even know what's happening in this picture. Is she sucking on her toes?

Pobrecito, I think, as the homeless guy cheerily greets me. I tell him I don't have any cash today.

"It's okay," he says, waving me on, "I know you're cool. See you soon."

Pobrecito, I think. Pobrecito.


neenertude said...

these are also so peacefully awesome. I wish I could think of something to say.

Chemical Billy said...

You have said exactly the right thing, Ms. J.