I went out in the neighborhood a little while back. I haven’t been hitting my locals so regularly anymore. I’d like to say this is a reflection of better judgement. But it is more likely just because I am sofa king tired I would just rather not. However, I rallied because one of my bebe cousins was in town, and, well, I mean this is the neighborhood to bar crawl in if you’re going to go for it.
And I do love a quality dive bar.
We started with a happy hour tipple at the Toronado. This bar is not in my neighborhood. I have had some legendary nights at the Toronado. And let me assure you that when anyone says that something in a bar was legendary, they mean, God, I did WHAT?!? In fact, even recalling some of it is cringeworthy. But the Force is strong in this one, and so, there I was.
In and out of my own volition. Win.
After getting back to the Mission we made dinner at home and then headed out – a little early for most of the non-neighborhood types who would certainly be filling the streets eventually – but as I may have mentioned, or soon will: age.
I took the bebe to the Latin American first, because one cocktail = done. In hindsight, this may have been poorly thought out. But, live and learn. Or at least I have heard some people do that… The Latin is a formerly great dive bar that has become a little overly self conscious about that status, but still serves a margarita that can knock you over and if it is not too crowed with an equally overly self conscious crowd, can be fun. Also, props to door dude for being the first to tell me that my drivers’ license was expired and he was doing me a solid to let me in. [I may have already mentioned I am in no way akin to someone who might actually need an ID check.]
After the Latin we headed to Doc’s Clock. I love Doc’s. I bring everyone there I can because I love it so. They also have shuffle board and a long bar. I adore a long bar.
We took seats at the bar.
Bebe saw a sign behind the bar that said, “Welcome to San Francisco. Now go homo.” Being from a special part of Southern California she was beside herself as a result of this sign. She took out her phone to take a photo. As she was working out her shot, unaware that she had the flash on, there was a perfect convergence of her photographic explosion and the arrival of the bartender who was clearly temporarily blinded by this situation. And she made no mystery of her displeasure with the situation. Bebe was embarrassed, but I was more embarrassed for the ridiculous overreaction of the bartender. As she acted like Nosferatu having seen the first light of day, I said, “It’s cool, you can help those other people first, we are not in a hurry.”
“Look, I’m already here, what do you want?”
We ordered drinks. I stuck with my standard clear liquors. Bebe began making unwise choices. [My neighborhood is going to be a lot nicer when all the people insisting that they actually enjoy bourbon just stop pretending.]
As we sat at the bar chatting, and apparently being hilarious – we were talking about our family – the bartender started hanging around quite a bit more. Soon enough she was chuckling along with us, and before long adding asides.
At this point the bar was getting pretty crowded and a big group of Woo Girls came in.
The bartender came over and we said at the same time: “God. The Woo Girls are here.” I think that is the point I won her over. The next thing I know she was telling me how smart I was, and that she could tell I was from the neighborhood. [This is also rather a big deal, as it is fairly common for people in this neighborhood to tell me things like I have “Marina hair”, or ask, “Are you from Marin?” Really? Sigh.]
When Bebe was ready for her second round and I was holding steady, Lisa, my new BFB, topped me off for good measure.
Now the touristas were flooding in. I have to say it is fun to be a local in this neighborhood when everyone else wants to be here if for no other reason than a nice angle for snobbery.
A group of young men came in and were suddenly positioned right next to us. One introduced the other, saying, he is visiting from Seattle. “Oh yeah? I lived in Seattle.” I tell him.
“No way!” he says. Why is this a response to a statement I am wondering. I mean, is it a challenge? Or is it too unlikely that to previously unknown humans could have lived in the same place? Or is it lack of a more clever answer? As I contemplated this he said, “But I am not from there.”
“Oh? Where are you from?”
“How funny, I went to school there.” I brace for the ‘NO WAY!’
“Where?!” He comes back with instead.
“NO WAY! [there we go] I am from Encinitas!” [As a side note, the number of people I meet from Encinitas outside of Encinitas is freakish.]
After some amount of bar conversation that can only achieve the level of enthusiasm it does when enhanced by liquor, we determine that we have had these (even I admit) strangely parallel life experiences. San Diego, Seattle, he is also a history teacher… Wait what? His buddy is beside himself. Do we know any of the same people, he wants to know. I mean, how can we not, he claims.
And here is where the real fun begins: The guess how old I am game.
I gently suggest that it is unlikely we know any of the same people because although we have had similar paths, I am old enough to be his mother.
“Maybe in Kentucky!” He says. Okay, fair play, that was clever. Although, I was getting nervous that he might throw his hands in the air and woo.
So he is 28. He guesses I am in my thirties. I no longer know if this is a ploy, or at all sincere. Bebe and I laugh.
“Uh, no.” Unsure how long I want to keep this guessing game going on I cut to the chase. I tell him I am 44.
Wait for it…
Yeah, anyhow. We talk some more and then they walk away. Soon there is another group and we chat, it is easy enough when plied with Lisa’s liberal pours and the general silliness of the Woo Crowd.
Pretty soon, Lisa tells us she is getting off her shift. Shame, things were really working out. But she walks over her replacement and assures us (or him?) that he will take very good care of us. The next thing I know she is standing next to us and telling me I have got to get out more. There is a lot of hugging and enthusiastic regard for all things us. I view this as a win all the way around.
The next thing I know San Diego-Seattle-History teacher dude is back. He does not have a lot of new material, but he is cute and funny. He tells me we should get out of here.
“Uh, yeah. I coud have been your teacher. I have rules about that. I mean, you are 28, and I am 44. Ew. No. We are not even existing in adjacent decades.”
He laughs. Now, again, I am confused if this is sincere, flattery, a con, or just confusion.
“No, come on it would be fun – look how much we already have in common… think what else there might be!”
Wait, what? He said that out loud.
Thankfully, my friend Ken has now arrived and Bebe is in need of my assistance so I have other things to do.
“Actually, I have to go. But, thanks?”
“Aw, come on, come back in,” he says.
Seriously? No. Just no, you lovely-but-daft-man-child.
We walk out and meet AJ. AJ wants to roll with Bebe. Ken and I are suspicious. He says he wants to take her to his hotel. “Does she want to go to your hotel?” I ask. Bebe seems unconvinced, or undetermined. She says “Yes.”
“Okay, where is your hotel?”
“Right down here,” he says pointing down 24th Street. Ken and I exchange looks. As if there is any sort of “hotel” down that end of 24th. Next thing we know he is faking a phone call. TO THE MARRIOTT.
Ken and I are dying, and not even really hiding it. He really must be drunk or stupid, or I suppose, he thinks we are.
He goes through this whole song and dance on the phone about “How could they not have his reservation? He paid through the weekend!”
Dying, I am.
So the next thing you know we are walking back to my place because the “Marriott” lost AJ’s paid-in-full booking. Maybe it got lost when they had to relocate the property from downtown? At my door it becomes clear that he thinks there is a fucking chance in hell he is getting in the door.
Ken is still there and I see my Jordanian chaperones from my liquor store keeping an eye on things as well. This will not end well for AJ if he annoys me. In the end he sort of dumbly slinks away. I almost feel sorry for him but for the fake phone call for which he forgot to turn the phone on.
I get in the apartment, thank Ken, and look to Bebe, who says, “What’s the time?” As she falls into bed.
A good question I think to myself, and on seeing it is just gone midnight I feel like throwing my hands in the air and yelling ‘Woooooooooo!’
Maybe I will go out in the neighborhood again one of these weekends. Hard to say no when… wait for it…