March 29, 1999
Dirt and Testosterone
(or, "Things That Go 'Boom' ")


David still smelled like dirt and testosterone this morning.

When I leaned across him to shut off the alarm at 5:30 a.m., I caught a whiff of old concrete dust in his hair. There was a smear of dirt on the back of his neck, and more of it collected in the folds of his eyelids, like dimestore eyeshadow.

It was like waking up next to Pigpen.

When San Francisco State University blew up Verducci Hall yesterday afternoon, David was there -- along with 5,000 other spectacle-hungry onlookers. I would be willing to bet that most of them were guys.

I would further be willing to bet that most of them smell like dirt today.

David had been talking about this for weeks, with steadily mounting fervor, ever since he first heard that SFU was planning to demolish the old dormitory. (Built in 1969, the building was abandoned twenty years later after it was damaged in an earthquake.) Frankly, Daughter #1 isn't as excited about her first Prom as David was about this explosion. 300 pounds of explosives! Sixteen stories! $1.5 million dollars! Full demolition crew! Full media coverage! Environmental protestors, thrown in just for fun! Big noise! Big smoke! Big fun!

Big deal.

Originally I planned to go with him and witness this fabulous spectacle -- mainly because I love him, and because I like to do interesting things with him, and because he would then owe me "Shakespeare In Love" -- but the closer we got to E-Day, the more I pulled back on the idea.

I played the Girlfriend With Terrible Hayfever card. "Won't it be awfully dusty there?" I said hopefully. This one, of course, was a little closer to the truth: by all accounts, a huge mushroom cloud of concrete dust blew over the crowd, immediately after the blast. I would have required an Allerest I-V afterwards.

But in the end it came down to the fact that I just don't "get" this whole Explosions-As-Entertainment stuff. It's clearly a guy thing. I don't even like fireworks unless I'm watching them on TV ... preferably with the volume turned off.  Explosions are noisy and smelly and expensive, and you spend most of your time waiting for them to happen and then they're over in four and a half seconds, and when it's all done you're left with nothing but a big mess and a headache.

(Sorta like some marriages I have known. But that's another story for another day.)

So David went off to watch them bring down Verducci, and I stayed home and wrote about allergies on the website, and we were both enjoyed our Sunday afternoon. He burst through the doors of The Castle at 6 p.m. -- surrounded by billowing clouds of concrete dust, a rapturous glow on his face, like Pigpen coming home from a revival meeting -- and for the rest of the evening we watched endless replays of the implosion on the local news. And I've gotta admit that it was sorta cool, watching sixteen stories' worth of building fold in on itself, over and over again ... as long as I watched it with the sound turned off.

And as long as I held my nose.


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