Monthly Archives: October 2009

Letters From The Bay, Week 12: Hardly Strictly Oh Hell No!

Part III: Plaidtastic

It was getting late.  We had tromped from stage to stage, toting our cooler and snacks all the live long day.  The sun had gone down, we had come down, and it was starting to get chilly in the forest.

And by chilly I mean effing freezing, naturally.  San Francisco summers are notoriously cold, and even though people talk up September weather like it’s some trip to the beach, September is really just the only time of year you don’t need a jacket AND a scarf.  By night, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, you better layer it up or you’re going to be an organic, free range, locally grown popsicle.

I surveyed the scene in front of me, and concluded it was time to peace. Throughout the course of the day, we’d been joined by several friends: a coworker of mine, some LA friends of AKB’s who had more tattoos than the show LA Ink, a fellow named Hot Charlie was with us for a brief period of time, and then there was B.

B is 24, like me, unemployed, unlike me, and wears a lot of plaid, like the rest of the Bay Area these days.  Your dad’s old work shirt that cost $89 at a Chestnut St boutique: so trendy right now.

“It’s getting cold,” I said gravely, as the rest of the crew was cavorting on the hillside, our final resting place for the day. AKB was playing backgammon with the tattoo artists from LA, B was bumming lighters off strangers nearby, and I was shivering on a blanket on the ground.  I think our time at the bluegrass festival was coming to an end.  Little did I know our night was hardly strictly even over.  “I think I am ready to go home now.”

“What?  NEVAH!” said B with a little too much bravado.  “We live to party on!  Besides, I want— hey look!  I think that’s my tartan!”

Before I could even register the use of the word tartan by a man who wasn’t wearing a kilt, I realized it was true: B, in all his plaid glory had spotted a couple on a picnic blanket a few feet ahead of us and true enough, the plaid of their blanket matched the plaid of B’s shirt exactly.   I expect if I ever see B’s room, it will probably be covered in this exact plaid, like all of Scotland took a huge dump on B’s possessions.

“Hey B,” I said, getting one of my famous ideas.  “What would it take for me to convince you to walk over to that couple, ask them to move off their own blanket, and then lie down on it so I can take a picture of you disappearing into plaid nothingness?”

I hoped to embarrass B into going home. I assumed the answer would be no.  Nobody in their right mind would usher two people off their own blanket for the sake of a pot-induced photographic opportunity.

I assumed incorrectly.  Also, B was not in his right mind.  Problem solved.

“Excuse me,” B said, shambling over, full of faux sweetness, like a baby-holding politician.  “I couldn’t help but notice my shirt seems to match your blanket exactly.  Would you mind very much if I asked you to get off your blanket so I can lie down on it and my friend here can take a picture?”

The couple were also not in their right mind apparently, because they hopped right up, B got right down, and all 6′ 4″ of B just disappeared.  See?


(photo cropped to protect the completely guilty – B is not innocent of much – fabric abuse is only one of his many crimes.)

“Okay,” said B, hopping up from the blanket and flashing his B smile to all the other onlookers and shaking hands with concert goers who had charged the blanket to photograph his great disappearing act. “NOW I’m ready to go.”

“Oh OH, now that you’ve had your moment in the not-sun because the sun is no longer out you’re ready?  You were just waiting for the paparazzi to swarm, and now that we’ve all frozen our plaids off, you decide it’s time to leave?  What if I’m not ready to go now, did you ever think of that?”

I was hardly strictly a little bit cranky at this point.  It had been a long day, it was cold, AKB had officially deserted D and I for the tattoo artists, and we were getting a little tired of catering to B’s whims in the woods.  But, then again, what do you expect from someone who lives in a mansion for free and always gets what he wants?

Oh, I forgot to tell you?  Yes, B lives in his aunt’s house, which is a mansion on Nob Hill (aka, The Mansch).  The aunt (if she actually exists at all) allegedly lives in Paris with her Latin American lover and B has free reign 300 days out of the year.  It’s all very Eat, Pray, Love, and B is reaping the tartan-encrusted benefits and has become quite the demanding princess in the process.

“Hilary,” B said in his politician voice again, “Are you ready to go?”

I considered making us stay just to prove a point, but I had lost all feeling in my face and not in the good, fun “whoa you guys, check this out!  Poke me!  Yeah, in the FACE!” way.

“Yeah, I wanna go.”

There was only one problem: B was not going anywhere, because B was hardly strictly completely stoned.  And he had just popped the top on another beer.  B makes good choices.

“I have my bus pass,” I said, problem solving, only slightly frantically. “We can just make our way out of the woods and hop on the 38 into the city.”

“Nooooo noooo, nope, nooooo” said B, his words already running together like a herd of puppies in a wide open field.  “I drove here and if I leave it out, someone will cut the top off.”

“What do you mean someone will cut the top off?  It’s a car, not a can of tuna.” B’s cagey ways were really starting to bug me.  I wanted out and I meant it, and I didn’t have time to decipher what “cut the top off” means in B’s metaphorical musings on life.

“Well, that’s what happened to it the last time.”

“B, you are making no sense at all.”

“It’s a convertible,” he finally spit out, as though he were talking to a three year old.  “And last time I left it outside overnight, someone cut the top off and it cost me $8,000.  So we gotta get to the Benz, and we gotta drive it. Oooookaaaaay?”

Um, okay?



Filed under It's awkward now, Letters from the Bay, Woe To Me

Letters From The Bay, Week 12: Hardly Strictly High

Part II: Something plaid, something brewed, something illegal, something blue

We could tell we were in the right place the moment we got off the bus.  All we had to do was follow the horde – and the haze hovering about it – into the trees.

Our merry band and our accoutrements (“accoutrements” is the fancy way of saying “crap” in case you never took French, as I also did not) had not gone but ten steps before we saw our first nearly naked hippie.  It was a warm day, Saturday, and had I known pants were optional, I might have opted to leave mine off.  As it was, one nearly naked was followed by two, four and several more, darting in and out from amongst the foliage.  Scampering, if you will, in that special way hippies can only scamper down by the Bay, like small bunnies in tie-dye, or little deer with dreadlocks.  It was fetching, really.

Just as my eyes adjusted to the darkened light, searching out shafts of sunlight filtering through the trees, we came to the end of the trail and were thrust forth into a huge open meadow.  And that’s when it hit us: weed.

Yes, I said it – weed.  Pot.  Mary Jane.  Cannibis smokitess.  Call it what you want – it hit us like a bus.  A 1969 Volkswagon bus, to be more precise.  The kind with little curtains on the inside and shag carpeting.

We were incredulous as we walked into the field.

“This must’ve been what Woodstock was like,” D whispered to me, eyes wide.

“Yes,” I whispered back, “But I think at Woodstock, 4:20 might have been a time of day, not a constantly ongoing activity.”

We scanned the fields, looking for a place to sit down among the 750,000 other bluegrass goers.  Our cooler trailed behind us, our six pack of Fat Tire clinking innocently.  Like 14-year-olds at a high school party, our beer and trail mix had nothing on all the grass in this grass, and our little snacks and drinks seemed almost juvenile in their legality.

As we wove in and out of the encampments, we realized that, in addition to forgetting our gas masks (grass masks?), we had also forgotten a blanket.  As the most liberal member of the tribe, and therefore the one most familiar with Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, I was nominated to “scrounge something up” for us to sit on while AKB and D “guarded the location.”

“Guarding the location” is the fancy way of saying “we’re going to sit here and drink beer while you go pick through the trash” in case you never went to any concerts in high school, as I also did not.

And that is how I ended up alone in the forest at Hardly Strictly.

I bravely wandered out into the crowds to search for something to sit upon, fanning smoke away from my face and eyes as I walked.  The haze was hellacious, and it stung my eyes behind my shades.

“Hey hey pretty lady,” slurred a nearly naked, swaying gently near me as I stopped near a compost pile to get my bearings. “You wanna little of my lettuce?”

“Um, no thanks,” I said.  My oatmeal was wearing off, but this man was no Souper Salad. Besides, I didn’t have the time to toke it up – I was on a mission.

“Tha’s cooool,” he said, as he blew a cloud right into my face, even though I had just turned him down. “That’s juuuust fiiine.”

As I continued to hunt, I thought about stealing someone else’s blanket, briefly, but theft isn’t really my scene.  Just being at Hardly Strictly seemed felonious enough, and we had only been there for ten minutes. The last thing I needed was to be caught stealing a dirty blanket in Kate Spade sunglasses and a plaid shirt, at a pot festival masquerading as a music festival, which I, Hilary (see: Kate Spade sunglasses) was attending, while masquerading as a hippie who likes bluegrass (see: plaid shirt).  I, mean, I had already been caught doing a culinary dance of indecency that morning – the illicit activity had to stop somewhere.

About 20 minutes later, I finally found a clean, industrial-sized trash bag waving in the wind, and I toted back to camp like a good little hunter gatherer.  Using our keen intellect, and a set of house keys, we split it open so it was wide enough for all three of us poseurs and then we promptly lay down in its plastic embrace and stared up at the sky.

“The sun is so bright,” said AKB, brilliantly. “And the way it shines through the leaves is just, so niiiiiiiice.”

“Lucy in the skyyyyyy with diiiiamonnnnds,” hummed D softly to himself.

“I’m hungry,” I said, between mouthfuls of trail mix.  “Do you think the food vendors sell Cheetos?  I could really go for those.  Or a burrito.  Yeah, definitely a burrito.”

Now I would like to go on the record as saying that I have never smoked pot, never once in my life. My mother reads this blog, along with half of Facebook apparently, and I would like to defend my own honor by saying that up until Saturday afternoon, Little Goody Too Many Pairs Of Shoes here has never ingested the wacky tobacky in any way, shape, or form.  Too many margaritas?  Check.  A cigar or three on the roof of my sorority house?  Check.  But never have I gone down the road to reefer.  And I think we can all believe that, especially when we stop a moment to recognize that I just used the phrase wacky tobacky. And I’m also not Ronald Reagan.

But as of Saturday afternoon, it seemed that, despite 24 years of careful planning and prevention, I had at long last, inadvertently made contact with the cabbage.  Consider the evidence: I was stuck in the woods with hundreds of thousands of high hippies.  I was craving Cheetos.  The lyrics to “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” were actually starting to make sense.  And then I sat up to see Steve Martin, playing the banjo.

Plus, I was wearing plaid.

Some things in life are hardly strictly even comprehensible.

Tomorrow = You + Me +Part III.  It’ll be niiiiice, I promise.  Reeeeeeal niiiiice.


Filed under Letters from the Bay

Letters From The Bay, Week 12: Hardly Strictly Hungry

Part I: No Pants, No Problem

It all started with a bowl of oatmeal.

I generally don’t like to start out my stories with “it all started out with…” but what I’m about to tell you is such a clusterfuck, it requires three separate blog posts and the only way to start such a thing is at the beginning.


It all started with a bowl of oatmeal.

It was just this past Saturday morning. I was standing in my kitchen, eating a bowl of oatmeal with strawberries on top, contemplating how it’s never too early to start being concerned with your cholesterol, when I looked down and realized that I was not wearing any pants.

I have been known to have a wardrobe malfunction or two.  I can often be found with my shirt on backward, and when I lived in Flat 4G and shared a bathroom with my dearest LP, she knew that if I went in straight faced (or whatever kind of face one wears when headed in to the WC with the Pottery Barn catalogue to take care of bathroom business) and came out laughing, it was because my underwear was on inside out.

But never before have I cooked pantsless, let alone eaten a full breakfast that way.  I don’t know what surprised me more: the fact that I had, indeed, forgotten to get dressed, the fact that it took me until I was mostly done with my extra fiber to realize it, or the fact that there was absolutely no reason for any of the above.

C’est la vie.

So there I was, in my kitchen, still eating a bowl of oatmeal and now contemplating both my cholesterol and my sanity, when my roommate AKB walked in.

“Um, what are you doing?” she asked, slightly bewildered.

“Um, eating breakfast?” I squeaked out, hoping she wouldn’t notice my sartorial shenanigans down South.

“Yeah, I can see that, but why aren’t you getting ready?”

“Uh, what are we doing again today?”

“Hello? It’s Hardly Strictly!  D is going to be here any minute!”

“Yes. Hardly Strictly.” I said with great determination.  And I was determined.  Determined to escape the kitchen without AKB noticing I was hardly strictly wearing any clothing, and also determined to figure out what Hardly Strictly was and why we were going there in the first place.

“Yes!  Hardly Strictly!  We talked about this, remember,” AKB called out over her shoulder as she bounded down the hall of our apartment.  “We need to start packing the cooler, so hurry up and finish that oatmeal.  And while you’re at it… put on some effing pants!”

So much for that plan.

So, as instructed, I finished my oatmeal and put on some effing pants.  While I was doing so, I recalled that Hardly Strictly was San Francisco’s finest bluegrass festival, and it was happening this weekend.  D lovey loves bluegrass – and who doesn’t, really? – and I simply love a good festival.  Upon further reflection I realized pants were only the tip of the iceberg that was the cluster that was my already very strange morning, and we needed additional accoutrements in order to truly enjoy our festing experience.

Those accoutrements being, of course, mostly cold, bottled, and refreshing.

1 Comment

Filed under Fiesta!, It's awkward now, Letters from the Bay