My friend Wes and I looked at each other sitting in the back of a black Toyota Camry with the same baffled and terrified look on our faces as our Colombian Lift driver was getting ready to either murder us for knowing too much or drop us safely at our destination in the Russian Hill neighborhood in San Francisco. It was anyone’s guess what he was saying, and why he took so many wrong turns in what could have been the last ride of our lives.
Turns out, this was the least crazy thing to happen to us in one of the weirdest, wildest, and most memorable twelve hours I’ve ever spent in San Francisco.
And that’s saying something.
We arrived safely and with plenty of time to spare before our 2017 fantasy football draft would kick off at the ripe old hour of 9AM. As previous fantasy football drafts would indicate, this would not be a sober affair. Sobering, perhaps. But certainly not sober.
Super nachos. Two bottles of chardonnay. Four shots of tequila. A cold Coors light. All consumed in a 30 minute fervor between our arrival at Derek’s apartment and the start of the draft. Yes. We are animals.
What followed could only be described as pure mid-30s debauchery that ended in the four of us stumbling into the fog at around 11:30AM in search of the nearest place to keep the party going. We made our way down the hill to the Marina district and a long-patronized little watering hole aptly called The Bus Stop.
Pitcher of beer. Shot of fernet. Pitcher of beer.
After about 5 rounds of pool in which I was on the losing end of…well…5 of them, I found myself wandering through the sunny streets of the Marina in search of a replacement for the chapstick I had lost hours earlier (spoiler alert: it was in my pocket all along). I felt like a child who’d been separated from his parents in a grocery store, only there was no intercom to notify passersby that a helpless young lad in need of assistance. By some miracle, I found my way back to the Bus Stop and we made haste for the next bar unfortunate enough to be directly in our path of destruction – Marengo.
Bottle of rose. Bottle of rose. Vodka tonic.
At one point Derek pulls a full bottle of fernet out of his backpack (illegal), starts pouring shots for the strangers he just befriended trying to get the entire bar to chant “King in the North! King in the North!” to no avail. He left the bar only to return for one last “King in the North,” to gift his new friends with a freshly baked bunt cake and spray his business cards – which I’m pretty sure were printed on 2-ply toilet paper – into a small cloud above us. We wouldn’t see him again.
Iza and Wes’ wife, Liz – after a calmer and infinitely saner day sipping white wine and slurping down oysters at Hog Island – finally joined us to extract our limp bodies from the tornado that had just ripped through the northwestern quadrant of San Francisco. We’d never been so grateful to see their glowing faces.
A gallon of water and some fried appetizers at Tipsy Pig, followed by a beer and a burrito at Don Pisos, and we were officially ready to face-plant. Of course, our absent-minded adventure into the city wouldn’t be complete without an hour-long commute out of the city on the infamous Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), authenticated with the smell of week-old urine and the one weary traveler with one eye open who you aren’t sure if they are asleep or dead.
San Francisco, I really did miss you.
We slept like Kings in the North that night in a warm bed in Walnut Creek, far from the highest highs and the lowest lows only a city like San Francisco can deliver. Our wounds would be licked and our pride restored, but only until the next time we throw caution to the wind and fill our sails with the cold, foggy breath of the Bay.