Rob had rolling papers and a pouch of tobacco, and Junyer had a big, full bowl of dog food-and neither of them could care less about the goings-on a few hundred yards away, where TV vamp Carmen Electra posed seductively and flashed her plastic smile for the cameras, B-list celebrity Tom Arnold signed autographs and elderly tits-and-ass mogul Hugh Hefner escorted a cadre of boob-enhanced babes into his big bash.
Seated on a bench near the fountain in Balboa Park, Rob said he's not interested in Playboy; he prefers the company of men. Might be a different story if it were Playgirl, he joked. Junyer (sounds like "junior"), a 5-year-old German shepherd-rottweiler mix, just sat there quietly, minding his own business.
Rob gets by on $598 worth of disability checks each month, which is just about how much Hefner earns in salary every five hours. Rob's disability is some sort of mental illness-he isn't sure what exactly. "I didn't see the report," he said. Obviously, $598 isn't enough to afford a place to live and eat in San Diego, and no landlord will take Junyer too, so Rob's homeless. San Diego's gone to the rich, he said with no small amount of disdain.
Get Rob talking, and he'll tell you he "hates" society and he "hates" himself, and Junyer's the only reason he goes on living. Rob also has full-blown AIDS. He's been HIV-positive for 15 years.
While hundreds of pretty, wealthy people over at the Playboy party considered the sort of things pretty, wealthy people consider, Rob considered the choice between a court-supervised drug-treatment program and three years of probation. The choice, he explained, was forced by an arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia, a quarter-ounce of weed and being homeless. He got five days in human jail; Junyer got six days in doggie jail.
Rob doesn't want to do the drug-treatment deal, he said, because they'd probably make him take medication for his HIV, and he'd rather not do that. So he'll just take the probation and try to steer clear of the police, and that won't be easy, he said, because it's difficult to avoid breaking laws when you're homeless.
After a night in Balboa Park, Rob planned to take advantage of a free meal the next day. For the moment, though, a tightly rolled cigarette seemed to be doing the trick. Junyer seemed content to simply lie there and listen to the sound of the fountain. ©