Another excellent SF Halloween party.
Went to see Ruth for the weekend, and got a taste of the local culture. And by culture, I mean the Folsom Street Fair. It’s sort of like your standard Renaissance Faire, but with even more sweaty dudes and ladies in constrictive clothes. They do both tend to have turkey legs for sale. I particularly love the costumes; I saw Boy Scouts, policemen, football players, and lumberjacks in addition to the standard leather gear. Probably could have staged a village people reunion.
After getting our fill of naked twister, we went off to scout the pleasant neighborhoods of Potrero Hill (scenic and steep) and Dogpatch (industrial and condolicious). But, they have a Vermont Street that is even curvier than Lombard. Apparently, they race bigwheels down it once a year. I shall return!
Walked through Temescal on Monday, gorging ourselves on Bakesale Betty fried chicken, steak sandwiches and strawberry shortcake, culminating in a visit to an excellent “center for reuse” store. Who knew I needed glow in the dark astrobits to spell my name in space? On the way back, noticed a sweet bumper sticker that references my favorite recent Supreme Court case. I like this town.
Also visited Jennifer, Tobi and Max. The monster is as cute as a button, and now has an MIT onesie. No pressure, little dude.
This weekend, I got hit on more times than I can count, by men. Most of the interns here went to SF, staying on the edge of a bad part of town. One of the girls here is a lesbian, and wanted to see the gay scene. I thought it would be a cultural experience, and went along. Our first night, we went to Castro, the gay district, and asked strangers for recommendations on where to go. A couple at an ice cream parlor, suggestively sharing a cone, told us to go to “The Badlands.” The long line and thumping bass told us that they were right. When we got in, an older guy with boozy breath approached me, and I could tell that he wanted some. I demurred, and instead grabbed the hand of the one available straight girl in our group, and strode off to the dance floor. Others eventually joined us, and we formed a straight haven in the midst of the gay. If you’ve ever seen an episode of “queer as folk”, or know anything about the gay scene, you can probably imagine it. Barechested, sweaty men gyrating, either locking lips with their current partner, or gazing around for another. One large black man told me I was “the prettiest boy out here”, which was flattering. Someone stroked the small of my back, which was a little too much for me. We left after about an hour, having had our fill of Madonna, Cher, Dido, and other divas.
One of the straight, square guys in our group suggested a place up the street, named descriptively enough, “The Bar.” Upon entering, I immediately recognized the scene. This was the flip side of gay male culture. Instead of effeminate, slender men, these were the big, burly, hairy men known as “bears.” I had to piss, and so queued up for a urinal. At the trough, there was a mirror at just the right height for scoping out your neighbor. Luckily, I was flanked by my fellow straight interns, and no one grabbed for my goods. At this point, I was ready to leave, but our square companion, either unable or unwilling to recognize the kind of place we were in, had calmly sat down and ordered a beer. Hilarity ensued, as large men eyed him hungrily. I told him to drink quickly or become someone’s sweetheart, and we got out of there post-haste.
On the street, a naked old man strode confidently past. He was approached minutes later by two officers of the law, who asked him politely to put something on. He produced a flesh colored G-string from God-knows-where, and declared himself appropriately attired. The cops didn’t give him any more trouble.
At this point, it was 2:30, and the straight bars near our hotel were closed. Apparently the whole city closes down at 2, and there isn’t a drop to drink. We retired to our rooms with a final bottle of wine, and to deal with the drunker among us. Someone started a toothpaste fight, which ended with casualties on both sides of the gender divide.
The next day, there was a call for sightseeing. Half the group wanted to see some tall colonial ships and hit the wax museum. The lesbian wanted to see the “Fetish Festival.” Guess which one I chose? Back to the bad part of town, we could hear the fetish fest before we could see it. The throbbing bass, and the lines of Village People lookalikes lead us there. We paid our $5, for charity, and entered the closed off block. I saw more naked men in that hour than I had ever seen before, or ever plan to see again. There was the standard leather stuff, a few master/slave combinations, and a drag queen or two. But the most popular costume was nude, or nearly so. One man wearing red leather straps that held up his equipment, wondered aloud if he was “coming on too strong.” On the other hand, a straight woman said that “the most disgusting thing she had seen all day was two barefoot people.”
We perused the shops, and considered the merits of leather cuffs, studded versus Xena-style. I tried to get her to buy a collar and chain. She convinced me to try on a kilt, which was out of my price range even after some serious haggling. I did find a sweet belt buckle, with a menacing bear in a natural background. I liked that it was subtle, and would work in any suitably masculine context. I bought it.
We rendezvoused with the rest of the crew, and returned to Monterey flush with our new acquisitions: my buckle, a souvenir paddle, a really explicit comic book, and memories of things that I can’t unsee. I’m still straight, but I’m not narrow.
Exploring the lesser known hikes around Big Sur, found Partington Canyon. The Tan Bark trail ascends through a foggy redwood grove, then steeply up to the Tin House (said to be built for Roosevelt, as a quiet spot to write his memoirs). Although I was ready for a swim after climbing 2,000ft in 4 miles, it’s way too cold. Don’t let the color fool you, this isn’t the Tropics.