I was going to cover the Pilsner Inn a few weeks ago, but I walked in, saw all the sports fans, and made an immediate Michael Jackson heel-spin right out the door and into Chow. Since the entire city has been waiting for me to return to Pilsner and file my review, I now submit the copy herein.
The Pilsner is a garden-variety bar in a town that values uniqueness. However, it has a loyal following, because A) The staff is great; B) There is an outdoor patio; C) There aren't any bars like it in the same neighborhood; and D) Penguins. Lots and lots of depictions of penguins.
I couldn't miss the sports completely, but I did manage to choose a night where nothing too obnoxious was being played. I have spent the last couple weeks avoiding the Olympics like a plague; that's not easy, my friend. Dodging sports takes real dedication, a keen eye, and ears like an Alabama jackrabbit.
I had had one of those days in the city where you ask yourself if you are wearing some sort of nutwad magnet. It began at the bus stop in Chinatown, with a nerdy young kid saying, "Hey lady, check this!" and then proceeding to do the robot in a circle around me for 10 minutes. He was boxing me in with his invisible dork force field. Then, at Safeway, a guy with a gigantic gold "K" around his neck followed me, saying, "What's my name what's my name what's my name?" like some late-'80s hip-hop Rumpelstiltskin. Eventually I turned around to hazard a guess.
"Riiighhhht!" he replied. Then he asked if I would buy him some Honey Bunches of Oats.
The weirdness didn't stop there; at the Pilsner, out in the patio, I sat next to possibly the most homophobic person I have ever encountered, which is a real feat in the Castro. He was on his cell phone. At first I thought he was just talking to himself — whoever was on the other end must have been incredibly codependent, because this guy never paused for them to speak. The conversation went something like this (I must paraphrase, but I wrote down the pertinent points; also, read it with a Jersey accent):
"Yeah ... so, take those shootings in Colorado. The boyfriends shielded their girlfriends from the bullets and died doing that. I tell you that that is the natural order of things, right? That's how it works. A man and a woman. Now say you were married and you died and your wife gets your Social Security. Well if Steve marries Joe now, and Joe dies, then Steve will get the Social Security, and the faggots will bleed this country and bankrupt it! I'm telling you, it's like Berlin, 1930 — friggin' Hitler all over again. The liberal gay fascists are destroying this country!"
And so on. I had never before heard an argument against gay rights that counted Hitler on the gay-rights side. He continued:
"So yeah, man, those nugs you gave me last time were no good."
Let me interrupt here, because at the time I thought he was talking about chicken nuggets. It took me a while to figure out that he was talking about pot. But, while it lasted, thinking he was ranting about the quality of fast food was highly entertaining.
"This time I want some quality nugs," he continued. "Give me something from Pedro's ass, and I'm not going to pay what I paid last time, neither." Methinks a homophobe should not be tossing around phrases like "Pedro's ass" willy-nilly.
I suppose I should describe this guy. He was probably in his 50s, with surfer hair and the fashion sense of a high school physics teacher. He was drinking vodka, from the looks of things.
I had already spent far too much time that week reading right-wing posts on Yahoo and Facebook, so I'd become a bit inured to his ilk. There is a certain comfort in hearing someone like him and realizing he is in a minority in this town. Still, I'm baffled by how a group of people asking for equal rights turns into Nazi Germany in this guy's head.
He slammed down his drink and slammed down his phone, then jumped up and scooted out. If you ask me, the nugs are probably self-medication for some hyperactive disorder. I didn't have time to tell him that he was in the Castro, so he should beware of all homos in the vicinity. Then my mind tripped back to that awesome Dave Chappelle black white supremacist skit, where the guy ranting in favor of the KKK doesn't realize he is black. It's not a direct correlation, but the juxtaposition tickled me.
I was almost alone back there on the Pilsner's patio, with a chilly breeze and images of penguins dancing in my head. Sometimes the insanity of everything here can be overwhelming. Then I get on BART, and there is usually more BS to deal with. My home is a place where I can decontaminate myself in silence. Then I wake up the next day, eager to go back into it.
When I walked back into the main bar, people were watching the game and clapping. I meandered through them. When I hit the sidewalk outside, I felt relief. I saw the surfer guy leaning against Churchill, yelling into his phone. It was time to head home.