Forgive me for making such a sweeping, generic statement, but when did people decide they’re owed a perfect existence? And worse, that it’s the responsibility of the rest of us to make that perfect existence a reality—to quiet our shrieking parrots in public, to stop dumping our radioactive waste on our neighbor’s lawn, to refrain from engaging in activities they deem “stalkerish” and “creepy”?
I mean, seriously, all you self-entitled people, cut it out with the restraining orders; I’ve run out of space in my filing cabinet, and the list of places I’m now allowed in SLO has shrunk down to that empty Chinese memorial garden on the corner of Santa Rosa and Marsh and the corner of Laguna Lake where the mean geese hang out all day.
And it’s not just the restraining orders I’m upset about. Just the other day my ex decided to buy a Costco membership because they sell pepper spray in bulk. He said so in an e-mail to his mom, which I’m confident was intended for my eyes as well since we’re totally going to get back together just as soon as he realizes I’m not a “giant creep with the dreamiest eyes and most expansive vocabulary of anyone he’s had the privilege to meet.” I may have made that last part up.
The point is, I respect a person who doesn’t take no for an answer, especially if they’ve been told no repeatedly, and even more than especially if they’ve been told no by an entire city council. If everyone’s such a big fan of common courtesy, how come we’re all gaga for the guy who hangs off the Ferris wheel to make a girl go out with him, or hangs over a bridge to make his other movie girlfriend tell him what’s bothering her? What? I’ve been on a major Ryan Gosling kick lately. Like you haven’t dreamed of sharing a jar of Nutella with Eros’ answer to perfection in your own romantic corner of Laguna Lake.
So try picturing Stephen Hester of West Coast Housing Partners hanging, one-armed, from a Ferris wheel at a podunk county fair. You’ve had a few chili cheese dogs, maybe a deep-fried something or other, so you’re gassy and maybe a little bit sleepy. But he looks at you with those piercing blue eyes, and that slightly maniacal expression that suggests that he won’t take no for an answer. All he wants in this universe, needs really, is for you to say, “Yes, Stephen Hester, I do support the Spanish Springs project in Pismo Beach. I do want to live in one of the 416 single-family, 73 multi-family, or 120 senior-living facilities, where I can spend my days swatting at golf balls and living the good life portrayed in your promotional photographs, which I’m certain are entirely accurate.”
And as soon as he hears what he wants, he’ll climb down from that Ferris wheel. And then maybe the phone calls from people aiming to lobby you with questions about what it would take to make you change your mind about the Spanish Springs project would stop. I don’t know who’s behind the calls some Pismo folks said they got earlier this month, but it stands to reason that it’s someone still eager to see Spanish Springs materialize—something I’m sure Stephen Hester wouldn’t argue with.
Unfortunately, like just about every member of the opposite sex—and same, for that matter—I’ve ever tried to talk to, Pismo Beach residents don’t seem to be all that charmed. In fact, some of them have been complaining that the early January phone calls were blatantly promoting the Spanish Springs project rather than objectively gathering the public’s opinion. Not terribly unlike the time I drunk dialed the 17 people who turned me down for prom and pleaded my case.
“Would you reconsider going to prom with me if you knew I was bringing construction jobs into the area?”
“No? What about going to prom with me if you knew I boasted second to none equestrian trails? How about the fact that I’m willing to sponsor a recycled water plant? WHAT DOES IT FREAKING TAKE TO EARN YOUR APPROVAL, PISMO BEACH?! ALEX MADONNA GOT HIS DAMNED SHOPPING CENTER AND HE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE A WEBSITE PROMISING ‘QUAINT EUROPEAN HILL TOWNS OFTEN FOUND IN THE FRENCH COUNTRYSIDE, THE BASQUE REGION OF SPAIN’S MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES, AND ITALY’S TUSCANY AND LOMBARDY REGIONS.’”
Eventually, I gave up and spent my prom night watching Remember the Titans (fun little fact: They never gave up either, not even when centuries of deeply ingrained racism tested their newfound bonds of friendship and camaraderie) and developing a system for telling knock-knock jokes using Morse code.
But not the Spanish Springs folks. It’s true that pretty much everyone within the city government, from the City Council to the city manager to the community development director, basically thinks the project’s dead. It’s true that the City Council revoked its approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Report after the Sierra Club threatened to sue. It’s true the City Council axed the proposal to build a road crucial to the development on property owned by people who don’t want a road there.
Any rational person would have long since given up and built French-Italian-Spanish golf course communities somewhere else, perhaps even somewhere the community members wanted to live next door to a French-Italian-Spanish golf course. Just like Noah probably should have done with Allie, who said she didn’t want to go out with him. Or that guy who hoisted a boom box above his head, which I can’t remember the context for, but I’m fairly certain is a universal symbol for endurance and a guy who’s about to get slammed with a restraining order. Just like every guy who’s refused to respect the word no, whether from a single individual or in this case pretty much an entire community.
Shredder’s the master of inappropriate gestures. Send stop and desists to firstname.lastname@example.org.