Five Things That Still Crack Me Up About San Francisco
1. People Walking Their Bikes Home When They Are Too Drunk
It’s 7:30, on a Sunday. The sun has gone down. It was a nice park day, or perhaps a local sports team competed in a pivotal match. It doesn’t make a difference, since this is the witching hour and one needn’t travel too far before running into someone clutching the handles of their bike as they zigzag, comically wasted, down the sidewalk. I think what cracks me up most about this scene is the subtle responsibility displayed. Sure, the guy went after it, super tough, and during daylight hours. Sure, he’s so wasted he can do nothing but mumble his own address to himself lest he forget it entirely. But despite all that, this civic-minded individual had sense enough to not actually try and ride his bike, putting himself and others in harm’s way. It’s very San Francisco, if you think about it—utter hedonism mixed with latent self-awareness—and it never ceases to give me a chuckle.
2. How Openly Loose The Tenderloin Remains
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I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit in my life, but there are few locales in this world much wilder than parts of the TL on any given night of the week. It’s like City of God over there. If you were so inclined, you could by crack, smoke it openly and with reckless abandon, petition a tranny hooker for their services, buy a weapon, spray paint a building, get a “massage” and be on your way on the inside of about an hour and a half. There’s a certain palpable feeling of no one giving a fuck about anything (ever) that I simply don’t think exists in many places anymore, and it puts an odd smile on my face, even though it still kinda freaks me out at the same time. What’s crazy is the fact that cops seem to more or less let it ride. Last time I was there I was heading to Whitewalls and saw a bunch of dudes holding down meter spots and directing traffic with glowsticks. Glowsticks! They were even wearing vests.
3. The Willingness of Locals to Wait in a Line
So long as a scarcity of resources exists, lines will be an inevitable part of life. I understand that. Furthermore, when you travel long and far to get somewhere, and you have to wait in a line to do or get what you want, it makes sense to just grin and bear it and shuffle along in the queue. What baffles me, however, is how we San Franciscans seemingly have zero qualms with waiting for insane amounts of time for coffee, pastries, ice cream or any other popular diversion you can think of. I’ve personally waited at Four Barrel for over 30 minutes for a cup of coffee and didn’t blink twice. And, if we’re talking Mission, think of how long you’ve been ok with waiting to take a piss in the real bathrooms at Dolores. But it’s not just that neighborhood. Consider Swan Oyster Depot: you’ll wait for hours, no problem. Again, I understand the acceptance as a tourist, but why do we seem to not care? Is it symptomatic of the lack of urgency cultivated in The Bay? Have we simply been normalized to the mundane prolongation of reward? Either way, when I find myself waiting in a line, while complaining about said line, I try to take a second and make fun of myself a little bit.
4. NAKED PEOPLE
They’re everywhere. But not just at places where one might expect them. Sure, if you attend the Folsom Street Fair or Love Fest or something like that, it goes without saying that you’re going to catch a glimpse of a nut sack or an errant boob. However, the thing that’s chuckle-worthy in SF is the basic rule that any time more than 30 people show up for an outdoor function, there’s a really, really high probability that someone’s going to be naked. It’s just math, and you can’t escape it. I really think that Ted Cruz and all those jerks should be rounded up and placed in locked pen in the middle of one of San Francisco’s bacchanalian soirees, just so they are forced to look at all that skin. It would certainly be a quiet plane ride home. Lot’s of praying.
5. The Summer
It’s a joke. It’s freezing. However, this never stops folks from still participating in summertime activities like barbecues and stuff like that. I can’t count how many times I’ve been shivering over a fire pit, in the daytime, in someone’s back yard over Fourth of July weekend. Not to mention the fact that it’s usually too cloudy to even see the multi-million dollar fireworks display. It’s hilarious, and it pays tribute to San Franciscans indomitable spirit of partying. I’ve been here for 8 years and have for the most part forgotten what the gradual warming trend of summertime even feels like. The worst is when, in the very deepest clutches of the cold, some dimwit hit’s you with that “the coldest winter I’ve ever spent…” shit. This is no time for famous quotes! Let me see the damn sun! The craziest part about all of it is the fact that while it’s grey and shivery in The City, it’s full-blown slip and slide, lawn chair and shorts weather like 10 miles out in any direction. However, it’s probably a good thing in the end. The cost of living is already soaring as a result of the tech folks, and if San Francisco actually became a desirable place to be in the summer, we’d all be priced out once and for all. It’d be like Monaco or something. Maybe that’s why I still grin as I watch tourists’ weatherworn faces as they sit, bundled up on those double-decker busses, wondering why they didn’t listen to their friend’s—or Mark Twain’s–advice about visiting San Francisco in July.