August 27, 2010
On the flight from LA to SF I sat between a burly guy named Ken and a skinny young guy, whose name I forget. I feel a little bad that while I don’t remember his name, I remember that he misheard my introduction and called me Sam.
I like it when people mis-hear my name as Sam, which happens more often than you might think.
I wonder who this Sam guy is.
He doesn’t sound like a baseball player, although that’s the first thing that comes to my mind. Sam Smithson would be a dusky blonde; he’d work in the woods, doing something with his hands. He’d be genial and hardworking and probably have a wife who loved the sight of him walking through their house in his battered baseball cap (aha! That’s the baseball reference!) after an early morning and half-afternoon of work in the sun.
But I digress.
The young guy who sat next to me, whose name I forget, punctuated his sentences with a little recital: ‘Mmm, mmm, mmmmmm.’ I’ve never heard anyone do that outside of movies and TV shows.
‘Can’t wait to get my ass out of the cold weather out East! Mmm, mmm, mmmm.’
He endeared himself to me instantly, with that repetition.
Our trio split up after landing, and I went to collect my bags. Pride Weekend had started in SF, and the airport was bustling with movement. Two guys stood next to me and spoke to each other loudly as we watched bags travel past us.
‘I bet they picked up my bag,’ one of them, a bearded young guy in a check shirt, said to the other. ‘Every time I put a toy in my bag, they pick it up. And this thing is huge.’
His companion chuckled nervously and looked around.
‘Careful… there are kids right there,’ the companion said.
‘Oh, well,’ the bearded guy said. ‘They have to learn sometime!’ He looked a little embarrassed, though.
We chatted idly as we waited for our bags. Mine arrived, and I bid them a happy weekend. As I walked out onto the concourse and looked for the closest taxi, I heard someone shout out from behind me.
‘I love being back in SAN FRANCISCO!’ I looked, and it was the bearded guy.
I knew exactly how he felt.
I hadn’t been back to SF since May 2009. I miss the city; I miss the people I know there. The last time I was there, back in 2009, arriving in town was one of the happiest moments of my life. This most recent arrival was so much the same.
I caught a ride to my hotel, the Francis Drake, where an unfortunate valet was wrapped in red costume and forced to stand in the brightly-shining sun with a smile on his face. Manfully, he bore the duty without a hint of complaint.
I made the calls I needed to make, started emailing and Facebooking people, and organised to meet Angela Tung the following day for lunch.
Upon meeting Angela, I thought two things:
1. Oh! Angela Tung’s really cool!
2. Awesome! I’ve met one TNBer more than Zara now, because she’s back in LA! Which… I think… does that mean I win TNB? Awesome! No, wait. I already thought that at the start of this sentence. I need to think of something else to think to sum up this experience.
Angela neatly rounded out the complement of TNBers we met who had not disappointed – she is every bit as funny, charming, and intelligent as you would expect from reading her pieces. We ate, strolled down to watch the Pride Ride down Market, walked up to Union Square for coffee, and there I left her to head over to Macy’s.
‘I’ve been on the road for a month,’ I said. ‘I really need to get some new briefs.’
‘I can understand that,’ Angela said.
Once again, Angela, thank you for lunch.
I shopped, indulged my frappucino addiction, and headed back to my hotel room. I had four days in San Francisco, from Saturday to Tuesday, then a few days in LA, and then, back home.
OK, I thought, This just won’t do.
I’m going to need a fucking scheme.
And also a nap.