It was sometime between 9 and 9:30 yesterday evening. I had just left Edinburgh Castle after hanging out with a friend and downing the two pints of beer I can have before I consider it a night of drinking. Moderation in beer consumption also made it so I didn’t have to pee every five minutes. I still had a ways to get home and was at the mercy of the Muni bus system.
The walk up Geary to Van Ness was pleasant and nostalgic. I’ve always liked this part of the city where the Tenderloin and Tendernob meet. I never lived in this neighborhood, but it has always been a pleasure to visit.
In some ways, I feel this is the true heart of San Francisco. It has just the right amount of grittiness to it. It’s not as off-puttingly moneyed as Nob Hill and you’re not faced with the kind of urban horror found deeper in the Tenderloin. People here might twitch and lurch, though seldom in a menacing manner. Even shooting up is done more respectably. Here the needle goes in one’s arm within the confines of an SRO hotel room rather than being jabbed into the dick vein while leaning against a dumpster.
Many of my own evenings of debauchery unfolded on these streets. After purchasing my party favors down in the Mission, I’d make my way up here by either bus or taxi and step out of the vehicle gushing coke snot and self-importance. Then I’d pay the cover to get into Divas, knock back one Jameson’s after another, and enjoy a celebration of gender free from the constraints of chromosome pairing.
Those were glory days indeed, but amittedly hard on the system. So I was more than happy to have my night out be one of near sobriety. Besides, my alarm goes off at 5:30 am. Also, I’m old.
So with my two-beer microbuzz, I walked the three blocks to the bus stop on Van Ness. I had to wait maybe 10 minutes before the 49 bus arrived. The wait could have been a lot worse and frequently was, especially at night.
The 49 Mission is not much like the tech bus I take to and from San Jose. There is more urine and less Wi-Fi. It can also get a lot more crowded though it was not too bad last night. I managed to get a seat way in the back with some solitude except for a homeless guy eating unrecognizable foodstuffs out of a paper cup.
Eventually he got off, but a lot more people boarded and I found myself with someone sitting next to me. She maintained at least basic hygiene and there was no corpulent spillover into my personal space so I didn’t much mind her sitting there. I wouldn’t say I was smitten with her or anything, not like the guy who got on the bus shortly after she did and sat right in front of us in a row of seats perpendicular to ours.
He said hello to her and she either said something or she didn’t before she turned away. Unable to secure eye contact, he stared between her legs for a good, long time. Eventually, the visual bored him so he pulled out a smartphone with an absurdly large screen and watched a video of two women in their underwear thrusting and grinding on a dance floor underneath a disco ball. It looked like they were having a good time.
The bus pulled up to the 24th Street stop and I said excuse me to the woman so I could get up. She stood up as well and found a seat some distance away from the gentleman in front of us.
I walked home in the cool night air. It felt good to have a night on the town, even a rather subdued one.