My first night at my apartment in the Tenderloin turned into sex with a fan of my novel.

The only furniture in my apartment was a bed and bathroom supplies. I had recently gone through a break up with a girl. We lived together in the Mission District and I had two options, stay in the Mission, a neighborhood I adore, and live with a roommate, or move into a studio in the ‘Loin and live alone.

I wanted some solitude and I like Vietnamese food.

The Tenderloin invited me into her arms by giving me a sexy 20-something girl, someone who was literate. Someone who came from the Sunset District and wanted to meet me at the Hemlock. Someone who didn’t shave her pubes and respected her jungle down there.

The Tenderloin called and gave me a dark haired woman with kissable lips and an infectious, eager smile. After drinking at the Hemlock we ended up back at my place and were naked within 30 seconds, rolling around on my only piece of furniture.

“Do you have a condom?” she asked.

In my 40 years on this planet I haven’t slept with many women. She was my 8th. I was a virgin until I was married at 25 since I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness. I didn’t have a condom, I hadn’t thought far enough ahead to having sex since I was actually too busy doing promotion for my novel.

I ran down the stairs and outside while the wind gusted east down Geary Street. I wore my clothes half on/half off so when I got back to my apartment she wouldn’t have time to change her mind. There was a naked sexy girl waiting in my bed. It was 2:45 a.m. so all of the liquor stores were closed. I asked an Asian dude walking down the street with a tripod who seemed harmless where I could find a condom at that hour.

He said to try Frenchies, an adult video shop up the street. Then he asked why the desperation and I told him there’s a woman in my bed and I want to have sex with her.

“Can I come up and film you guys?” he asked.

Welcome to the Tenderloin.

I ran to Frenchies and put my hand in the condom cookie jar, buying whatever I pulled out. Lubed, ribbed for her pleasure, hooker grade STD double thicks.

Running down Geary back to my apartment I held the handful of condoms in the air like they were an Olympic torch and I was running my way towards victory.

I found condoms. I was going to have sex. She was still naked when I opened my apartment door.

I shed my clothes. She had a wonderful laugh and we giggled and snuggled under my blanket and got things started again.

I fell in love with her that night. I fell in love with the Tenderloin that night.

I fall in love easily. Less than a week later we were talking relationship and it was too soon for me. I needed to heal from my last two long term relationships. I needed to understand myself and trust myself. I knew my judgment was clouded by my own baggage and my lust for her.

The Tenderloin and I are still in a relationship. We’ve had our ups and downs. Sometimes I’ll gaze upon her and just watch and know if there is an Apocalypse, this is how the people would look and act. Many carrying all of their possessions in carts. Some screaming at the sky with mangled faces because they didn’t get their medicine, prescribed or unprescribed.

And then there are tough Brazilian trannie hookers all dolled up, every once in a while slamming a purse on some privileged suburban kid who thought the ‘Loin was Disneyland and you can touch and make fun of the characters.

And then there are us so-called functioning people. We can walk a straight line, hold our mouths quiet until society deems it appropriate and we clean ourselves. We watch the madness, sometimes with sympathy, other times with dread, knowing one little click in our brains can have us wandering down these streets, screaming about how well our novels were received and about that one time we had sex and fell in love with a fan. It would be a little hard to believe while doing a poop in an alley.

As for the girl from the Sunset District who came to welcome me to the Tenderloin with her adoration, well, there are times I can still smell her hair.

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TONY DUSHANE lives in San Francisco. He's the author of Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk, published by Soft Skull Press.

He hosts the radio show (www.drinkswithtony.com) and his column Bandwidth, appears every Thursday in the San Francisco Chronicle. He also has written for The Believer, Mother Jones, The Bold Italic and many other fine publications.

DuShane is a novel writing teacher at San Francisco Writers' College, his next class starts in January. Full details will be announced next week on www.tonydushane.com.

Upcoming readings:

November 17, 2010 - Space Gallery, San Francisco
December 8, 2010 - Bawdy Storytelling at Blue Macaw, San Francisco

He also likes taking long walks in his walk-in closet.

8 responses to “The Tenderloin Gave Me A Girl”

  1. A nice vignette and a perfect description of the Tenderloin. I used to start at Bacchus Kirk on Bush and lope down to the Club Six on Sixth St. The apocalypse got closer before it got farther away. It’s sometimes hard to believe the neighborhood exists where it does, in the heart of the city, but maybe that’s for good reason.

    Thanks for this solid read and for feeding my SF nostalgia.

  2. Irene Zion says:

    Tony,

    What if you saw this girl again?
    Would you see her and see potential now?

  3. Irene Zion says:

    Well then, Tony,
    you made the right decision.
    Glad the Tenderloin is still treating you well.
    Thanks for teaching me where the Tenderloin is, I’ve heard of it but didn’t know it was in S.F.

  4. Hank Cherry says:

    There are times I can still smell her hair.

    Perfect ending.

    I lived in the Tenderloin 20 years ago. Hard to believe. First neighborhood I envisioned myself growing old in.

    Still have a chance at that.

    Great piece. Thanks man. Thanks.

  5. raven says:

    you’re pretty selfish. but then, so are most people, i guess

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