Cabs are a crapshoot in San Francisco. It always burns my chuff, whatever that is, when I call to reserve one. First of all, the fact that I have to phone for one is lame. Any other big city would have millions of cabs roaming around, but nooooo, not S.F. Second, I hate it when you have to give the dispatcher an exact address, not just the intersection. How many of us can give the street address of the restaurant we just ate at? C'mon. And what about falling-down drunks — how are they supposed to know where they are? Will anyone speak for the falling-down drunks of the world? That bugs me. Then, of course, cabs make you wait forever, or they just never show up. Grrr.
But good cab rides are my favorite experiences — real slices o' life. I called Luxor the other day to go from Potrero Hill to the Mission. A cab arrived in five minutes, and, despite the fact that I had to suss out my exact address to tell the dispatcher, the driver didn't need one when I told him I was going to Nap's. "If a cab company don't know areas and stuff, then they ain't much of a cab company," he said. True dat.
Then he did what all great cabbies do: He lit into the story of his life. He has a 15-year-old son, he lives in Crockett, he used to be a surfer, he hates working nights because of all the drunks so he only works days, he hates that rap stuff so even though his son is a major pain in the ass at least he likes rock, Foghat rules by the way but he's an old-timer so there you go, and yeah I could pay with my credit card but only if it actually worked because the goddamn machine they gave him in his car sucks.
I gave him a $10 tip.
When I walked into Nap's I was reminded that there is not one damn thing that's hip about the bar, thank god. It is solidly Mission working-class, with posters of big-tittied beer chicks and weak American beer on tap. There's a pretty goodly karaoke scene there some nights, but most of the time the sound system is pumping Motown. If you can't afford a cab and want a slice o' life, try Nap's.
I sat at the bar next to two youngish Latino males, both heavily tattooed and heavily sedated. Since I didn't catch their names, for the sake of clarity, I shall refer to them as One and Two. They were drinking Heineken and didn't seem to mind, or notice, that I stole their basket of pretzels. "My homie died," One slurred to the bartender, rubbing his hands over his face as if to push away the anguish. "He was my homie."
Two then told me that their friend had been found dead by his wife the day before. Apparently he had been on a ventilator. At least I think that's what he said. "Ventilator" is a hard word to pronounce when you're drunk. Maybe he had actually been in Venezuela. Hard call. "That guy down there buried his girlfriend today," continued Two, pointing five people over. I saw a round-faced kid, about 23. The guy didn't look that distraught, if you ask me, but people mourn in different ways, I suppose.
"That's my daughter's godfather." Two pointed to the bartender, a rather hefty gent with a nice smile. "He's my compadre right there!" He pounded his right fist on his heart twice.
"You mean Tiny?" I asked, which sent Two into a fit of laughter. "Ooohhh!" he said. "I gotta tell him you said that! Ohhhh!"
"Oh Jesus," I entreated, "Please don't tell him I said that. Please!"
"No, no, no, I gotta. 'Tiny!' Hahahaaa."
I sighed and waited, resigned to my fate when Tiny would find out my nickname for him. But herein lies the magic of dipsomania: In about one minute my new buddy had completely forgotten what we were just talking about. Phew.
Then my friend whom I was meeting walked in. She is an attractive blonde. Holy god, my two pals went into freakmode immediately. They were just drunk enough to cut to the chase as she sat down. "You are beautiful," One slurred.
"Hi," Two said. He tried to say something else, but it was totally unintelligible. I noticed that he had a new, full Heineken. I don't get why the bartender kept serving him. I guess that's what godfathers do. Despite his inebriation, Two seemed a nice enough chap. For example, he started talking about the Hells Angels, whom he apparently hangs out with. I asked him if he was familiar with the biker gang Satan's Helpers. He let the name bang around his head a bit, then said that he wasn't.
My girlfriend and I began to talk but kept being interrupted by the slice of life going on beside us. "You're schmush mush lishnest," belched Two, leaning in.
"Should we ..."
"Go?" my friend said.
At this point Two was up off his stool, behind us. His voice was rising and he was entreating us to do ... something. He put his arms out as if he were trying to corral us. "Schmshtk sluss produce, you know?" he said, moving his arms suggestively during the "produce" part of the sentence.
We grabbed our stuff and left. I must say I felt kinda bad, dissing him like that. It's bullshit female guilt, total codependence, but I'm like that. I'm sure he forgot about it a minute later, though. I pictured him getting behind the wheel of the Enterprise rental car he had, the keys of which he was waving around earlier. Yipes. "Jeez," I said to my friend, "you blondes really do get harassed a lot." I mentioned my other blonde pal who gets guys running out of bars when she walks by, asking her if she wants a drink. I'm not sure if I'm jealous or relieved to be a brunette.
"Did he say produce?" she asked, and we both started laughing.
Here's the problem with some slices o' life: Maybe you are on a diet and really should stay away. Or maybe you are allergic to peanuts and no one told you they were in there. Or maybe you cut from the wrong side of the cake.
Or maybe you went to Nap's on the wrong night.