It was a Tuesday. I remember that it was a Tuesday. I had spent all weekend working at my start up job as an office manager/marketing guru/bartender and even put in sixteen thankless hours on Monday. But on Tuesday I got home early – and by early, I mean 6pm. All I wanted to do was be alone and wash away the corporate funk that was covering me from head to toe. As a creative person, I still have to keep a corporate job. I realize that I can never make my living being creative. Creative people are undervalued; they are never paid what they’re worth. Someone told me that the guy who came up with the multimillion-dollar slogan ‘Got Milk’ was a guy who worked at an ad agency making $18 an hour.
Anyway, I wanted to have some ‘me’ time. I took a long hot shower. I put in a few loads of laundry. I cleaned out the cat box (which had become like one big pee brick.) I emptied the dishwasher – which is a luxury since I usually play the ‘clean or dirty’ game every day and just live my life out of the dishwasher always understanding fully well that there is a 50/50 chance that the fork I am using is dirty. I washed my face with some expensive soaps and applied a nice, dark, mineral mud mask to help soothe my skin. I have oily skin. I get it from my dad. My bitchy attitude is from my mother’s side, I suspect, but the terrible skin is all my Dad. Anyway, I called friends in far away places and had phone dates with girlfriends in New York and Atlanta. It was an almost-perfect evening.
I’ve always known that living in San Francisco afforded me the confidence that I could seriously be what I want and do what I want in this city. More importantly, I could almost get away with anything. This is the most liberal place in the solar system. But I have come to realize that there is a time and place for everything. This liberal sword is one that indeed cuts both ways.
A few weeks ago the Castro Theatre was hosting the Frozen Sing-a-Long. I’ve never seen Frozen. I don’t know what it is about — but I do know kids fucking love it. So, as you can imagine, on the day of the Saturday matinee, the line of little girls dressed as princesses stretched around the block past Hot Cookie to 17th street. The parents did what they could to help contain their excitement, but it was palatable. There were a few dads but mostly it was moms and Hispanic nannies that were given the task of chaperoning these groups of squealing girls to the Frozen Sing-a-Long.
I was running some random errand and as I was crossing the street, I saw them: the trio of naked guys. If you have been to the Castro lately, chances are you have seen them. For those who haven’t, they are a group of exhibitionists who like to wander about the Castro with nothing on but a smile. And sneakers. Oh, and maybe a backpack. Three guys just letting it all hang out on a sunny Saturday. I had to pause when I saw them strolling by the Castro Theatre as all of these young girls were waiting in line for this movie. These kids were trapped. Parents and chaperones were caught off guard.
Suddenly, in these little girl’s faces, were three semi-erect dicks. I watched in succession as each fragile child’s mind was branded with the image of some old man’s penis literally at eye level. They were traumatized. The most interesting thing about this was the reaction of the parents. They tried to act like this was all perfectly normal. They averted their eyes and tried to distract the little ones as much as they could without making the naked men feel as if they were doing something wrong or were somehow out of line. God forbid, the naked people feel uncomfortable.
Let’s think this through. You are naked in front of children who are lined up outside a movie theater to see a cartoon on a Saturday afternoon. Clearly, this is not normal. In other parts of the country the guys would have been tackled by parents, possibly beaten – and they would have been labeled perverts or, even worse, child molesters. Not in San Francisco. Here in the City by the Bay, they have a right – perhaps even a responsibility – to show us their nakedness regardless of whether we want to see it or not. After all, these children need to learn about penis sometime. No time like the present. Look at it, kids. Isn’t it spectacular? It’s right in your face. Smell it. Now go sing about building a snowman or whatever the fuck that movie is about.
Then, the naked men crossed the street and they were headed towards me. Suddenly I was telling myself, ‘David, just don’t look at it. Pretend like this is totally normal.’ Why didn’t I laugh and point and take out my phone and take a picture? This is, after all, what prepubescent nightmares are made of. Why didn’t I just roll my eyes and tell them to put on some clothes? Well, in San Francisco, that would be rude. How dare you tell a naked man that he doesn’t have the right to be naked on the street. Can you imagine? How conservative. Go back to Georgia you prude. Get out of San Francisco you poor uncivilized naked-man hater.
It’s true. On the exterior I have conformed to this liberal city on every level but inside I am still sometimes freaked out by the shit that happens on a daily basis here. Freaked out in a good way, I mean. Nonetheless, like everyone else, I walked past the naked guys as if it were the most normal thing in the world. I pretended to not even notice. Well done, David. Good day, naked men. Lovely day, isn’t it?
So on this Tuesday night that I was enjoying a quiet evening in, I realized that I didn’t feel like cooking. Instead I opted to run to the taqueria a few blocks over from my place downtown and grab a sloppy $8 burrito. I threw on some shoes, grabbed my keys and put on a hoodie. It was cold. It’s always cold here. I was moving at a quick pace and was holding my hands in my pockets. About 10 minutes later I arrived at the little taqueria and as I was opening the door, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the glass.
I had not bothered to take off the mud mask.
I had completely forgotten that I even had it on.
I was horrified. I had just walked five blocks in downtown San Francisco, passing perhaps fifty people, in black face. Oddly, not one person looked at me funny; not one person even raised an eyebrow. Interesting. A big racist white man in black face walking down the street? Good for him. Good evening, you racist, shit-faced man. Lovely evening, isn’t it?
This is truly living in San Francisco. And for the record, I went ahead and ordered the burrito. I was already there – why turn back now? I just acted like it was totally normal to be in a dark brown mud mask at a restaurant. Everyone around me also subscribed to this belief. The cashier gave me a bit of a peculiar look, shrugged her shoulders and then got on with the task at hand. It’s liberal here. It is indeed something that I have learned to love/hate.
There is indeed a time and place for everything. In San Francisco, that’s a blurry line.