Sam, Jenny & Tia

Two weekends ago, on Friday, I met Sam, Jenny & Tia. Sam & Jenny were over from Virginia for the two weeks, while Tia hails originally from there but now Placerville – also known as “that small town with a couple of turns in it on the way to Tahoe”. ;)

Anyway, we hit it off quite well, just chatting and whatnot. We ended up going out to Taxi’s (Mercardo) for gelato ’til the wee hours of the morning, along with Philip whom I’d met around the same time. Steve was away in China at the time, arriving back the following Monday or Tuesday or somesuch. We were pretty much the only people at Taxi’s – the janitor was there along with what may well have been his wife and a small boy, maybe five, whom was sleeping on a bench (and later in a car, and later – finally – at home). No sign of Marty, the night-manager Steve and I had met and talked a bit with the first time we went there for gelato, and had seen once more. The poor place looks to be struggling quite a bit – something of a lost treasure hidden in plain sight on the wrong side of the carpark, opposite the disgusting Starbucks that people flock to in disgusting numbers. Grrr, Starbucks, and their nasty yet inexplicably expensive coffee. And don’t even get me started on the hot chocolate (though bizarrely the Starbucks-branded hot chocolate you get from the occasional cafe is often quite reasonable).

I digress [perpetually]. The janitor character seemed quite nice, though we didn’t chat exactly so much as exchange pleasantries periodically – we were there for three or four hours, and the only people at that, as I noted.

I ran into the girls again the next Friday too, where we tried to repeat our prior method but were thrown completely off by Taxi’s apparently being closed. At 1:15am. The same janitor guy was there, but didn’t seem to recognise us at all; he was quite gruff, in fact. The door was unlocked though closed, and given it was something of a brisk night I thought well enough to try it, so upon finding it open was about to go inside when he appeared from out the back to say they were in fact closed. Apparently the “chef” doesn’t arrive ’til 2am. I don’t get it.

Alas, the golden weeks of Taxi’s may be drawing to such a premature end. I guess I should have bought more gelato. ;)

Anyway, that forced us instead to fall back to the IHOP, which is hardly my favourite place but then again at that time of night you’re tossing up between that and Denny’s (or Carrow’s, which is pretty much identical). I wish there were some form of actual nightlife in this country. Le sigh.

But that was interesting anyway – we were there until about 7am, I guess… I got home at 7:30, in bed finally by 8:30. I was really quite surprised how well I’d hit it off with the girls; such wee hours escapades are hardly typical, especially these days. But we did, it seemed, talking endlessly about anything and everything and who knows what – the repeated late nights hit my memory hard, such that I can’t even recall many specifics.

Mostly just Sam’s frog socks. And that Jenny has to yawn at least once per hour or else. Or that Tia can hold a fiercesome silence like none other. :P

Actually, one of many interesting revelations was that the naughtiness amongst the “Stacks”, as covered by Undergrads, is actually real; both Jenny & Tia work in libraries. Australian libraries clearly do not have the right idea about these things. ;)

Saturday night, after I’d slept most of the day and they’d done likewise, and/or chilled in some park, we met up again – with Matt, as well – to see District 9. Which was a quite thoroughly enjoyable film – not quite what I’d expected based on trailers and rumours, but in a good way. Afterwards we retired to B.J.’s for general civility and Pazookies. When B.J.’s closed at 1am we were booted out into the carpark, where we stood chatting for another two hours – even after the carpark’s floodlights turned off, plunging us truly into the Cupertino despair (or, if that metaphor is too ambiguous, let me explain: consider Cupertino the kryptonite of entertainment).

Anyway, that was really cool. By this time I was starting to feel strangely comfortable with this. The idea that three lovely ladies would want to socialise with me – I mean, after the first exposure – and repeatedly at that, is quite perplexing, honestly. And though staying out ’til the wee hours was taking its toll – I was entirely not chipper, as Jenny would say, through most of Saturday – it wasn’t nearly as bad as normal.

The whole time I was quite tentative about everything… off hand comments would fly by suggesting further rendezvous and so forth, to which I would try to hint affirmatively but subtly – as when you’re onto a good thing and don’t want to be too excited lest you scare people off. Kind of the same way I am at LAN parties, as Pete et al will attest. :D

So each night when we finally actually parted ways, it was a rather awkward and extremely drawn out goodbye, even after several such nights. It became quite amusing after the first few times, as Steve will unhappily attest – come Sunday night, though I race ahead, I just turned to him during the awkward silences, putting the responsibility solely on him as a change. :D

Times like this I wish I actually had a substantial vocabulary, instead of arsedly faking it, as waxing poetically feels shameful when you’re essentially churning out “Sam has a red ball” level material.

Where was I? Let me get a blanket for my lap and some fresh snuff for my pipe…. and you damn kids get off my lawn!

Now I’ve really lost my place.

At some point Sunday arrives like a … metaphorical fast moving and abruptly entering object. And that’s not an innuendo, if any of you suspicious-looking internet folk are reading this in the wrong frame of mind.

Sunday once more I slept in. The girls had mentioned they wanted to go up to the Castro and Haight-Ashbury, and there had in fact been an overt invite extended to me by Sam, but as I’ve previously covered, I didn’t want to be uncool, so I’d ignored it. Apparently that’s how you get all the girls, by ignoring them. ;)

Nonetheless, I mentioned I had some stuff to do – cleaning the flat, honestly, though I never ended up having time to – and that I’d get in touch once I was free, maybe catch up to them midway through their day’s travels. As it turned out, Steve had finally recovered enough from China to venture out again, and so I went out for an earlyish lunch with him to Amici’s. I hadn’t seem him in over a month at that point, I reckon, so it was just catching up and whatnot, and good to see him again of course. We were soon shooting the breeze about the usual choice topics, such as bad programming and the many failures of electronic engineers, though heavily laden with irony given I rarely understand any of the electronics he talks about… I thought we did a lot of power stuff at uni, but evidently not.

Afterwards I rang the girls, asking if they still wanted to catch up and if Steve could accompany me. They hadn’t met him at this point, of course. They seemed okay with that, though Sam’s phone manner is completely contrary to her manner in real life, which is to say, very flat, distant, quite fairly interpreted as disinterested. On the phone she’s quite lively… Haha, no, just kidding, other way round. She’ll probably never read this, but just in case – as people whom know me know, I have a high daily quota on sarcasm and digs against my friends. ;)

Since we drove while they thought it’d be fun to catch the BART from Millbrae (hint hint – it’s not), we ended up arriving maybe only five minutes after them. We met them on the corner of Castro & Market, and started wandering down Castro and around the surrounding streets. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in that area –


– in fact the last and perha –


– ps only time was when we visited Steve’s place during WWDC, where Rick was staying for that week. So in fact while I’d seen all the porn and sex and comic book stores, only in the late evening, and never deliberately sight-seeing. (by way of comparison, the Castro is genuinely much like Sunset Boulevard in Holywood, just with more arseless leather chaps) It’s quite a fun area – a good tourist destination, as I’m oft told yet have studiously ignored – and the “Hot Cookie” place actually has really nice cookies. And chocolate brownies. And the chocolate penises on a stick are probably very delicious, but I honestly didn’t see them until after I’d ordered. :)

There was a guy on the corner of Castro & Market, Milk Plaza corner, selling thongs in the shape of penises. And so forth. For those that haven’t visited the Castro, it’s hard for me to convey it faithfully, as I’m pretty sure I’ve not been anywhere else in the world much like it.

There were of course a lot of gay guys everywhere, but surprisingly many women too, and of course a fair number of obvious tourists such as ourselves.

After wandering for a bit, the girls decided they wanted to get their nails done. They’d been suggesting I get a haircut a few times… the general vibe at that time was confusing – I did feel like perhaps I had over-imposed myself on them, though re. the haircut specifically that may just have been an appropriately subtle hint that I needed one. Six months ago. But as much as I wanted one, I didn’t think it’d be nice to them to neither ditch them temporarily nor force them to wait on me. So when they ended up in a beauty salon that did haircuts as well – after trying one purely about nails but finding a half-hour wait ahead – I was quite happy.

The place I didn’t get the name of, but it’s just east on Market from the south-east corner with Castro. The only person who’s name I got in there was Mario, the camp-as-a-row-of-tents guy who cut my hair, while a woman did the girls’ nails. And Steve sat nearby, doing not much – I’d teased him about getting his nails done, and perhaps had there been more employees available he would have, but as it was we were there for hours because the one woman doing nails could of course only do one set at a time. That and there’s all this feet-in-fruit-bowls-filled-with-rocks business, etc.

Worth noting is that Steve and I were aware of – in detail – acrylic nails, while the girls weren’t. That’s a pretty substantial fail on their part. :P

So yes, the important point of all this is that I got a haircut, finally. I’ve been a little uncertain about the result, given the reaction from everyone once I emerged from behind the dividing wall could be charitably described as “meh”, or more paranoidly described as “oh dear”.

And “paranoidly” so is a real word, stupid Mac OS X dictionary…

As is “meh”. C’mon, get with the times. That’s been around since at least year 10 – it was trademarked by Lucas Clayton all through high school.

But it was reasonably fun – an appropriately low-key sort of afternoon given the successive late nights. After that we drove over to Haight-Ashbury, via Alamo Square so as to glimpse ever-so-briefly the Full House house. We arrived around dusk at Haight street, so a lot of stuff was closed or closing, but nonetheless I think the girls still got a fair exposure to it all. As in the Castro, they didn’t seem particularly inclined to actually shop… I forcibly wandered into some random trinket store – you know the type, filled with overpriced wooden furniture, strange statues, rugs and polished rocks of dubious spiritual benefit – but that didn’t seem sufficient to activate their shopping genes. In very stark contrast to Marie and Kristen many months ago.

We did spend a long time, admittedly, in Amoeba Records. That place is just nuts – you can genuinely find pretty much anything in there, if you have the patience to look. They even had a whole section on British TV shows, though the prices were highway robbery – $100 and up for many collections, which while ostensibly four or five seasons, perhaps, only constitute 24 or so episodes, which is just one season by American standards.

Jenny did buy “Bend It Like Beckham”, since it was $3, which is appropriate given her soccer roots. Saturday night she & Matt had gotten quite into the soccer talk, to the detriment of the rest of us whom don’t have the names of every English player memorised. I mean, who plays this soccer thing anyway? ;)

We ended up in a crepes cafe/restaurant at the end of the evening, for dinner and proper socialising.

After being there for a few hours we finally headed off. As is customary when in S.F. at night, I took everyone up to Twin Peaks to attempt to see the city. Though it was customarily hazy, it was better than the last time I was there, and you could actually see a fair bit. It was pretty cool, though [temperature-wise]. Luckily I’d had the foresight to throw in both my heavy jumper and my central jacket, so Tia & Sam at least were warm, while Jenny feigned indifference. Civility fail on my part there, though in fairness it’s hard enough producing a cover story for carrying two jackets by happenstance, let alone three. ;)

And Steve stood their emitting more heat naturally than a space heater. I may have hugged his bare legs at some point. I consider Twin Peaks part of the Castro. ;)

After staying there only a short while – self-explanatory, I should hope, given the aforementioned weather – we journeyed back to Millbrae to drop Tia, Jenny & Sam off. Knowing that Sam & Jenny were heading home on Tuesday afternoon, and Tia subsequently back to Placerville, this indeed looked like a real final goodbye. Though I’m now well used to it, having met so many lovely people travelling whom I’ll never speak to again, I still hate that feeling. Luckily, as noted, we’d been practising on every prior night, and in this case I could simply turn to Steve and see what he was going to do about it. :D

So after some awkward time doing that, they finally relented to actually going somewhere (with us). So to Denny’s we went. What can I say.

And there we spent our last few hours together, before Steve played party-pooper by asking to go home. Pfft, in my day, we stayed out all night. :P

And so eventually we did part our ways, with much less awkwardness than before, which in itself was somewhat awkward to me as I’d hoped for something a bit more… I dunno, distinguished, than just everyone getting in their cars and driving off. Ah well. Steve, hug slut he is, scored two from each thanks to the uncertain departures. I managed none – epic fail on my part. But in doing so maintained my rank as masculine alpha male. I wrote the first draft of this entry entirely in grunts, in fact, but relented to translate it for the wider audience.

I should clarify for my own memory at this point that I wasn’t hitting on any of the girls. Not from lack of interest per se – I liked all three in a uncommon way, in the same way that Emma & I had just clicked in New Zealand all those years ago now. In fact I don’t think I’ve met any women in the intervening time about which I could say the same, let alone three all at once (never rains but it pours, I suppose). But in any case I didn’t detect any extraordinary interest from them – that they wanted to hang at all perplexed me enough, as noted – and there wasn’t any safe way to approach one without upsetting the group dynamic. So I did nothing, which I think worked out well – we spent what precious little time we had together actually talking and having light fun, rather than wasted in innuendo and flirting and all that other stuff which really does seem so coldly just a means to an end.

I’m not sure where I’m going with that. It should suffice to dissuade the usual comments along the lines of “ooooh, you met a girl, ooh la la” that any mention thereof in my journal here invariably generates. It’s true, women exist, and periodically and despite their best efforts, they do bump into me. :P

As I’ve taken to saying, it’d be far better all round if I were just gay, because then I’d have a fine time here, but alas I am not. Damn my genetics/upbringing/insert-your-own-believed-reason-here.

Digression #2853, noted, stamped and filed.

After the three left I sunk into a genuine depression through ’til at least Friday. It was very bizarre – the kind of malaise and forlorn that I can’t recall since high school – you know, back when I wasn’t a cold, walled-off alpha male. It was of course compounded by other factors during the week, but nonetheless it caught me well off guard.

Steve reckons my new hair style looks like an emo Tobey Maguire.

Luckily things picked up by Friday night, where Steve & I caught up again and saw “Inglourious Basterds”. And this weekend, while by appearance fruitless and indeed hopeless – since I spent half of it simply working – was actually nice.

And that more or less covers the last two weeks – the significant parts, anyway.

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