It was 10 AM, bright, and warm. My crew, local guys, were due a coffee break. We headed across the street to a little cafe.
“It’s striking how few good-looking women there are in this city.”, I mused. “I’ve spent months in all of the big metropolitan cities of America, and they are all populated by good-looking women; except San Francisco.”
“City of seven, man.”
“Seven what?”, I asked. I thought he meant to tell me seven things that made up the city and which explained the sad state of the female population.
“Sevens. The women here are all sevens. City of seven.”
“So you’re saying seven is the ceiling for San Fran?”
“I think you’re right. I haven’t seen any eights or nines.”
“For a ten she’s got to be sweet, you know; to get that little bit extra that just puts her tsk!“ He motioned with his hand as if putting one thing on top of another.
“Sure.”, I replied.
“We don’t have those.”
It was 11:30 PM, dark, and cool. Two men, one white and the other black, walked down a poorly-lit street away from the train station. They passed burbling bums tucked into vestibules, litter, a pile of vomit. At the edge of a run-down gas station a Mexican woman yelled at a man obscured by the open hood of an SUV. Half the streetlights were out because of road construction and temporary walls lined both sides of the asphalt. The sidewalks were shallow canyons, and in the remaining pools of lights you could see one man wore a hoodie and jeans; the other a blazer paired to khakis. Between the lights they were just shadows of men; one was big.
He looked to the side; the way you do when you want to catch something in your peripheral vision, but you don’t want to appear to looking around.
He noticed, and continued to close the distance, fast.
There was no time for the guesswork of peripheral information. He needed to know if he needed to prepare for a confrontation, or run, or relax.
He was walking very fast.
In his best and cheerful English he made diplomacy while the man was ten yards back, “How are you doing, sir?”
“I’m doing good, man. How are you?”
“I’m good, thank you.”
“Have a good evening.”, I said.
“You too!”, he relieved.
In San Francisco, near Union Square (which is infamous for transients and hookers), there is a Chinese-run walk-up pizzeria (whose pizza is not very good), and within which there is a bucket with a sign scribbled with “Tips are SEXY!”. They don’t actually serve you, though. America.
The number of beards I saw on men was encouraging, but considering the rest of San Franciscan society it would be wrong to take those expressions of manliness at face value.
Wait, I got another one… I was smoking a cigarette in front of my hotel, my back to the street, when a trolley car stopped next to me.
“Biz’nez man! Hey biz’nez man!”
I turned to see the black trolley driver and his passengers all looking at me. Confusion broke as I realized I had been conscripted into the troller’s improv troupe. “What’s up!”, I cheered.
“Hey, biz’nez man, this is Mike; Mike from Seattle.”, he said while motioning towards a middle-aged tourist perched on the outermost step of the trolley.
“Hey Mike, from Seattle. What are you doing: Just hanging out?”
What a groaner, I know. But everyone laughed, and Mike from Seattle seemed to enjoy himself.