"Let me be absolutely clear—."
Like a clanging bell in a small room, the words kept pounding in Spin Cycle's cranium.
The opening line—read twice, thanks to an uncooperative microphone—to the "Ich Bin Ein Creep Seeking Help" speech San Diego Mayor Bob Filner delivered Friday to a cordoned-off media throng fed into an admission that he'd been a bad, bad boy for many years, engaging in behavior toward women that Filner now found "inexcusable."
Yet, clarity is anything but what this city finds itself basking in these days, as the media hounds sniff out every fly in the mayor's permanently tainted ointment and the armchair political prophets stroke their Ouija boards for clues to what's next for America's Finest Punching Bag.
Hoping to escape that drumbeat line, Spin Cycle— armed only with a notepad, a pen and a Mr. Goodbar for sustenance—ventured over to Balboa Park, Plaza de Panama specifically, where it was said that tables, chairs and umbrellas had magically appeared Monday.
Sure enough, like rust-red blooms on a fresh landscape, umbrellas gave shade to more than a dozen black metal-mesh tables and matching chairs at various spots in the pedestrian-only plaza that the mayor—if he weren't in virtual hiding—could readily claim bragging rights for making happen.
Spin settled into a sun-blocked chair just north of El Cid, the bronze sculpture of an 11th-century military leader who, legend has it, helped drive the Moors from Spain. As Spin stared at a blank page, wondering how Rodrigo Díaz de Bivar, the horsemounted subject of the sculpture, would advise our current mayor, a puff of wind interrupted.
Bounding off the table went the Mr. Goodbar wrapper. And as Spin bent down to retrieve it, a sparkly flash accompanied by the lilting sound of a harp prompted Spin to bang his head on the underside of the table while straightening up.
"Yikes, that'll kill some brain cells," a familiar voice said.
Spin looked over, and seated on the curved top of a new plaza chair was—surprise!—the Magic Budget Fairy! In an instant, the head throbbing ceased.
"Magic! Why, I haven't seen or heard from you in, what, two years?" Spin said in shock.
"Right. When I had to set you straight about that tombstone illustration with RIP The Budget Fairy' in it. Made you climb a redwood here to talk about it," Magic B snickered at the memory.
"Yeah, that was a scary climb. Speaking of scary climbs, do you see Mayor Filner pulling himself out of the mess he's made for himself?" Spin segued.
"Funny you should ask," Magic B replied. "This budget business has been a bit on the lean side of late, as I'm sure you can imagine. Fewer stashed pots of gold, unfortunately. So, I've branched out into crisis management. Let's just say it's opened a lot more doors of opportunity, if you catch my drift. Do Weiner and Spitzer ring any bells?"
Spin was intrigued: "You're saying you're on the mayor's payroll?"
"Nah, I'm doing this one pro bono, although the other fairies at the shop think I should be calling it pro boner. Heh. Yeah the humor level's pretty sophomoric among fairies," Magic laughed.
"It's not just among fairies these days," Spin said.
"You mean those dorks at City Hall on social media during the work day?" the fairy inquired. "Yeah, I put a stop to that. Every time they tweet now during the work hours, I send a small electrical pulse through their privates. In a few more weeks, they'll all be sterile. Haaaahahaha!"
"That seems a bit extreme, don't you think?" Spin cringed.
"I know we haven't talked for two years, but haven't you noticed?" the fairy said, wings atwitch. "Things have changed. No more, Oh, good fight, Mr. Opponent. Let's have a beer!' Now it's, Suck on the end of this semiautomatic weapon, scumbag. See you in hell!' Yeah. Not pretty."
"I know," Spin muttered. "So why are you here and not, say, D.C.?"
"Oh, shit, D.C.," Magic B growled. "Ain't no amount of magic will make that place anything but a festering pool of nitwits, sycophants and money whores. Remember that year I surprised San Diego with, like, $10 million in found' revenues? Congress laughs at that kind of dough now. Plus, Carl DeMaio might be heading there, so I wouldn't be safe there. He has a license to kill fairies like me.
"No, I've always had a soft spot for San Diego," MBF continued. "Don't ask me why, with that doofus Mayor 10Goals' Murphy or that smirking caretaker Jerry Sanders, a couple of preening credit grabbers. But it sounded like this town was on its way to some big things. Now this Filner drama."
At this, the Magic Budget Fairy looked almost embarrassed. "I could've stopped this whole thing, but there was DeMaio all excited about running against an entrenched liberal 70-year-old, and the Democrats all seemed on board, even knowing Filner's penchant for letching," the fairy said. "I went against my inner pixie and looked the other way."
"Yeah, there was a lot of that going around," Spin said. "So, you here for the recalls?"
Fairy's head shook violently. "No, no, no. You think I'd be here for that amateur hour? The laidback recall versus the My medialoving grandpa is right' recall? Give me a break! No, I'm strictly here for Filner."
"How's that?" Spin asked.
"Well, as a certified crisis manager, I'll let you guess who's advising him."
"Yeah, I tend to travel where Gloria Allred goes. I think she's even staked out an office here, so I'll be around."
"I have to ask," Spin said shyly. "Has Filner ever harassed you?"
The fairy let out a laugh: "Oh, Bob, he once made a crack about my wand and how it was shorter than something of his. I put his boys in about a two-month freeze, but that's clearly worn off."
Two months? Spin suddenly wondered if two weeks of behavior treatment would make a difference. "They have a saying in Spain," Magic B replied. "Habits are first cobwebs, then cables.'
"You figure it out."