Monthly Archives: November 2009

Letters From The Bay, Week 12: Hardly Strictly Home At Last

Part V: Candy

The pasta bolognese was spicy and steamy.  D had sauteed up a storm of sausage and parsley, while I primed the pasta, poured the vino, and protected the sauce from any stray particles of the mysterious substances that were wafting through the air from the dining room.

B and the ravers chowed down, their bites of bolognese interspersed with quick lines.  When you are gearing up to rave, it’s important to maintain a steady intake of carbs and coke to maintain both your buzz and your endurance.  Much like running, or an epic game of table tennis.

I surveyed the scene in front of me, and reflected on the day: five strangers, a new friend, and an old friend, and me were nestled in a jewel of a dining room, surrounded by soft candlelight and bottles of wine. Lines of crack had sifted gently down to one side of the table, like very tidy snow, and the ravers took turns tending to them lovingly, with the occasional nasal harvest.  Little drug farmers dressed as disco balls at a dinner party at three in the morning.

Laughter rained down as we discussed the concert, the festival, the food, and what exactly would protect us in case of zombie attack.  Rifles?  Shotguns? A barricade?  No one really knew, and no one really cared.  It was more about coming together to discuss the important things in life.

When dinner was over we meandered to the front living room. I felt it was time for D and I to officially leave the mansch, that much was apparent, but how?

“Are you like totally sure you can’t come with us?” said Kevin sadly. “I just think, like, it would be so great.”

“Next time,” I promised him as we gazed at each other from across the fringed ottoman.  “Next time.”

“Well you better not forget us, and we need to make sure you don’t,” Kevin said, a little moist eyed.  I read somewhere that crack makes your eyes water, but I prefer to think that he was emotional about my departure.  Teary eyed, glassy eyed, there really is no difference, right?

“Give me your hand,” Kevin said, wiping away the tears. “Hold your fingers up to mine.”

I held two fingers up to his, like ET phoning home, plus one finger, and minus the creepy little alien guy.

“See?!?!”  Kevin said, excitedly through the tears.  “We’re making a peace sign!!  For PEACE.”

“Uh huh,” I said, not entirely sure where this was headed.  I’m all for peace, but usually peace doesn’t come at me in the form of a walking fireworks display.  Between the crack and the carbs and the crying, I was a little afraid Kevin could combust at any moment.

“Now make a heart,” Kevin said, bending his fingers toward mine in a strange circle.  “That’s for LOVE.”

“And now hold my hand,” he said, as we wove our fingers together. “This means TOGETHERNESS.”

“Great,” I said, trying to sound upbeat.  The most peaceful thing I could think of at that point was exiting the mansch in a timely fashion, and holding hands with Kevin wasn’t going to help my mission.  And forget about togetherness – I hadn’t been together since early that morning, when AKB spotted me in my altogethers making breakfast.  It was not my best day, and I think the word “together” was well behind several other words, such as “bizarre” and “poor judgment” and “hot hot mess.”

Over my shoulder I could see another raver had cornered D and was performing the same strange sign language ritual on him.  He was giving me the look, but there was nothing I could do to help: we were stuck.

I started to pull away and Kevin held on tighter. “No, not yet – there’s one more thing!” Kevin said frantically as I almost unclasped our hands.  “CANDY!”  he yelled.

And with that, he looped a bracelet from his own wrist over our woven hands, and slid some candy onto my wrist.  It was beaded blue and florescent yellow, and stretchy, like a drug store candy necklace from my childhood.  And then he twisted it to the front so I could read the beaded words: it spelled out L-O-V-E-L-Y in black lettered beads.

“That’s for you, because you are,” Kevin said. “You are lovely.”

And then he blew me a kiss and danced off into the depths of the mansch, twinkling madly, burning bright, never to be seen again.

Once out on the street, D and I walked home in the quiet chill of the early San Francisco morning.  We passed Ghiradelli Square and the crooked part of Lombard Street.  We heard only the slapping of the water against the wharves and the slapping of our feet against the pavement as we trekked the rolling hills.

“Can you even believe this life sometimes?”  D said quietly.  “I’m pretty sure that was the weirdest day I’ve ever had.”

“Yeah,” I said, considering.  “But I don’t know.  Despite the hippies and the contact high…and the lost Benz…and the dinner party…”

“And the drugs,” D cut in matter-of-factly.  “Don’t forget about all the drugs.”

“Yeah, and the drugs and the candy…it was weird, but, I don’t know…I guess it was kind of a good day, too.”

And it’s true. Despite all the weird – and there is so much weird – sometimes this life, in this city, with all these crazy people, is just lovely.


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Letters From The Bay, Week 12: Hardly Strictly Hugs

Part IV: Hugs all around

So that’s how we were going to play it. A tall gangly stoner with keys to a Benz, a missing roommate who probably had 12 tattoos by that point, an innocent bystander who probably regretted even waking up that morning, seven hundred thousand hippies, and me.

And we all had to get the hell out of the forest.

“Um, B,? I said, much nicer once I realized he was our last hope for getting out of the woods.  He was the ship to our Crusoe, the rowboat to our Molly Brown, the coconut phone to our Gilligan. “Do you remember where your car is?  Because this is the largest urban park in the country, and we’re smack in the middle of it.”

“Hilary,” B said, stoned scoffing. “Please.  I know this forest like the backa mah hand!”

Sometimes when B is stoned he also talks like Ma Kettle.  Nobody knows why. It’s a scientific mystery.

“I cain git us outta this forest no problem.”

“Okay then, let’s go!”

“Okay!  We just have to walk up this hill…? I think?”

At this point, I’d like you to imagine a hypothetical children’s book featuring pirates searching for buried treasure.  Imagine a red dotted line, leading from the palm trees to the trunk in which the hypothetical treasure is ensconced.

Now imagine a hypothetical four year old took a bright red marker and drew all over said map.  Or you could imagine that a hypothetical pirate had just smoked a lot of hypothetical pirate marijuana and you put him in charge of your hypothetical hunt.

Where the fuck is your treasure now, huh?


Luckily – very luckily – there was a full moon in the sky and a large crowd to follow, and eventually we made it to the Benz. I’ll spare you the details. I’ll also spare myself the trouble of writing the words “and we paced back and forth in front of the same large building” for ten minutes straight.

D promptly confiscated the keys and slid into the driver’s seat.  B miraculously navigated us back into familiar territory, and D giggled the whole way while I precariously wedged myself in the back and tried to not to whap B upside the head with either my elbow or my Chaco-ed foot, while he blissfully sang along to Michele with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Thank God I do yoga.

That’s all I’m going to say about that.

After miles of zigging and zagging, we crested one of San Francisco’s many enormous hills and B announced “We’re here!”

Yes, Internet: we had arrived at THE MANSCH.

Short for The Mansion, THE MANSCH is where B is lucky enough to be playing professional house sitter.  It’s on top of Nob Hill, diagonal from the Fairmount Hotel, and right down the street from Holy Crap I Can’t Believe You Live Here Boulevard.

As we crammed ourselves into the elevator and began the ascent, the doors and floors began to whiz by in reverse, like a backwards Alice down the rabbit hole.  Garage, foyer, library, master suit, dining hall, until finally we reached the rooftop deck.  D requested that we host a BBQ ASAP.  I requested that we go back indoors ASAP, because looking out into the vast twinkling sprawl that is San Francisco always makes me think about earthquakes and I was in no mood to contemplate my own mortality for the 47th time that day.

We descended via the twisting staircase, taking a quick pit stop in the library to check out B’s literature.  Just as D was investigating the history section and I was checking around for Colonel Mustard with a lead pipe, we heard a strange thumping sound approaching.

D and I made eye contact nervously.  I instantly thought of the big one, and took very, very slight relief in the fact that I would die amongst books and fine furnishings.

“B, what’s that noise?” I said, nervously.  “Is that the elevator?  And, if so, why does your elevator sound like a herd of rhinos?”

“Yeah, what IS that noise?” B said, surprised.  B is surprised a lot.  One of the unfortunate byproducts of being consistently stoned is that you have no clue what the hell is going on at any given time.  Another unfortunate byproduct is Cheeto fingerprints all over your most important belongings, in telltale, sometimes awkward places.

“Well, if you don’t know what it is, we certainly don’t know what it is,” said D, very logically.  D is not only one of my favorite people in the universe, but he’s also really good in a crisis – calm, levelheaded.  Given the way my life generally unfolds in this city, that fact pretty much ensures that D should be with me 92 percent of the time, just in case.

“Good point,” B said, eyeing the doorway as the sound grew ever closer.  We were all looking at each other, looking at the door, looking at each other.  D gave me his famous one-eyebrow look, which means “I do not like what’s happening here” and I gave D my famous B43 look, which means “I’m going to pretend that it wasn’t me who has gotten us into yet another disasterous situation with no clear exit strategy whoopsie daisy!”

The thumping was really close now.  The door handle rattled, the floors started to shake, and then – an arm snaked around the door.  A man’s arm.  Wearing approximately 22 multicolored beaded bracelets, and a glow in the dark hoop.

I know – I was surprised too.

“Oh yeeeeeah!” B said, relieved.  “It’s my friends from L.A.!  I forgot they were here.  Duh, they came for the rave!”

“The RAVE?” D squeaked.  “A rave in your house?”

“No, silly,” said B.  “It’s the rave in the field.”

Because, you know, it’s always best to rave outdoors if you can.

“Hey you guys, come on in!”

In they came, the ravers from L.A.   In all their beaded, multi-colored glow-in-the-dark glory.  There were five of them, and they were dressed head to toe in sparkly, stripey, multicolored outfits.   Covered in bracelets and glowing lights.  I almost had a seizure looking at them.

“Heeeeeeeeey!  HI HI HI!” said what appeared to be the head raver.  “I’m, like, Kevin, and like, I’m so excited to meet you!” he squealed, giving me an exuberant hug.  Not only was Kevin ready to rave, but apparently he had eaten a cheerleader for breakfast that morning.  “Ohmahgaaaaah, are you guys coming with us?!?!”

D’s eyebrow was up again, which was a sure sign that we were definitely not going with them.

“Um, no, I think we’re going to pass this time,” I said, as though I would ordinarily rave until the cows come home (which is likely when you rave in a field, maybe?)

“Oh, like, NO WAY!” said Kevin, hugging me in his sorrow, while another one patted me sadly on the leg.  “Like, that’s so sad, because raves are like, so fun.  Like, you would love it.”

“Yeah,” I said, untangling myself from Kevin’s sparkly embrace. “We’re pretty tired from Hardly Strictly, and kinda hungry, sooo…”

“Well let’s make dinner then! Hilary, you love to cook!” B very helpfully suggested.  “How about it?”

It’s true.  I do love to cook.  Maybe not for crazy ravers, but I couldn’t pass up a chance to cook in the mansch.  I also couldn’t help but think that cooking for the ravers and keeping them fat and happy might be the only way to prevent them from hugging me again. And so, with D as my souz chef, we raided the kitch in the mansch and cooked dinner for B and the ravers.

We chopped and sliced, laughing as we went.  Who starts the day in her underpants and ends it cooking midnight dinner for strangers?

I do.

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