You can read more about my $2 Portrait Project here.
Earlier today while walking up Mission Street just past 6th in San Francisco's Tenderloin District I ran into Rodney. I was listening to my iPhone but as my eye caught Rodney's he motioned to me to take them off. When I took the headphones off Rodney immediately started singing to me. He said come over here and let me sing for you for a while. So with that I stepped back into this doorway (it was hot outside in SF today and there was shade in the doorway) and Rodney started telling me his story. His mom and dad were both dead. His dad was a drunk who used to beat up on his mom. His mom had an identical twin sister named Jane who is now living down in Fresno. He was 50.
Rodney sang a bit more and somewhere along the way asked me for money to get something to eat. He said he wanted to buy a burrito for $3. I told Rodney about my $2 portrait project and he eagerly agreed to pose.
Then Rodney told me that he'd bet me a dollar he could guess my age with two guesses. Before going forward with that though he said though that if he guessed right I'd have to give him the $3 for the portrait plus $1 for getting my age right. We argued for a few minutes over the original agreed upon amount. Rodney insisted that I told him $3 to start for the portrait. I held to my guns about the $2.
As we talked some more I learned a bit more about Rodney. He's never had kids. He grew up over in Berkeley but has been living all over the Bay Area. He's not working and is on SSDI. He seemed to have a thing against smokers. He said that his dad used to smoke. He said that all those so called Christians would come out of the church over in Oakland and immediately start smoking. He questioned how they could call themselves Christians when they smoked.
After we chatted for a bit more Rodney started arguing with me again about the $2. Finally in the end I relented with him and told him that if he'd agree to it I'd give him $2 for the portrait, but that if he could guess my age that I'd give him $2 for that too. Rodney immediately negotiated himself that he didn't have to get my exact age right but had to come within one year of it (lower and higher) and that he got two guesses and that I had to tell him if it was higher or lower after his first guess.
During this time Rodney started talking about how he was going to take the extra dollar over to the adult video store and watch a video of a naked woman with a big ass and big tits.
Rodney said I looked young. He guessed 35. I told him he was wrong and that I was older. He then wanted to know if I was alot older or just a little older. I laughed and told him not exactly a lot older but more than a little older. He rephrased it and asked if it was more than a few years older and I said yes. Then he guessed 40. I told him that I was 41 and he got super excited for having guessed within one year. This really fired him up. With that I gave Rodney his $4 ($2 for the portrait, and $2 for guessing my age right) and went walking up Mission Street with shouts from Rodney coming for about 30 seconds as I was walking away. "I love you brother." "Thank you brother." "Ha! I got your age." "Thank you, thank you."