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.

Sam Smithson.

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.


Even awesomer.

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.

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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

10 responses to “TPAC 2010 – Day 27: A Flower in Your Hair (and a Sex Toy in your Bag)”

  1. Jude says:

    This is the week for sex toys Sam!

  2. Andrew Nonadetti says:

    I don’t know – “Sam Smithson” has this sort of hardboiled, Dashiell Hammett ring to it. Perhaps you should trot it out now and again while traveling, especially if you plan on taking in a killer set of gams, slugging some punk in the puss or pistol whipping a thug. But not while shopping for oversized sex toys. “Simon” will do just fine for that.

  3. Zara Potts says:

    Two words: SAM ELLIOT.

  4. angela says:

    you’re welcome again, simon! i hope the underwear buying session went well.

    omg, zara, i was thinking sam elliot too! sexy in a crooked-teeth, cowboy way.

    • Simon Smithson says:

      It was wonderful to meet you, Angela. I was singing your praises to everyone in LA.

      The underwear buying session was exactly what I needed. We should all have that feeling once a day.

  5. Simon Smithson says:

    Sure, he was tough. He was plenty tough. But with a set of brass knuckles and a yearning to bust up someone’s kisser, I figured I was tougher.

    This guy writes himself!

    • Simon Smithson says:


      His comments do not, however, place themselves. This was to Anon.

      • Andrew Nonadetti says:

        When Sam writes a comment, it goes where it damned well pleases. Replies follow it. If The Most Interesting Man in the World had a temper or Vladmir Putin had a soul, they might be worthy to walk three steps behind Sam Smithson.

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