As most of my readers already know, I lived in San Francisco for approximately sixteen years, encompassing my late 20s through early 40s.
The other morning, while laying awake at 4 am, memories of San Francisco started bubbling up. I don’t know if it was my age/hormone level at the time I lived there, or whether it is something about The City itself, but going over my memories of San Francisco I came to the disturbing realization that the vast majority of those memories—okay, pretty much all my memories of life in San Francisco—revolve around getting laid or trying to get laid…under the guise of looking for true love, of course.
Of course I worked. I made friends. I went to movies and plays. I took photos, made art, read books, acquired new skills, spent way too much money on way too much stuff, and explored the natural beauty of the Bay Area. But it seems all that was nothing more than background noise amid the unrelenting need to connect.
I would like to think that I fell into that lifestyle over the course of several years, but if I’m being totally honest, I have to admit it started almost the minute boots were on the ground.
While I did date and had several serial boyfriends, the smorgasbord of carnal delights and availability of potential sexual partners literally anywhere in the City is no doubt why so many refer to those 49 square miles as “Disneyland for Adults” and none of those relationships actually lasted. “Cruisin’ the Streets” is more than just an old Boys Town Gang song. You could connect with someone on the subway, waiting for the bus, on your lunch hour downtown, walking home after work—and either go right to your/their place, make plans to meet up later, or duck into an empty stairwell for a quickie; literally anywhere. Buena Vista Park, North Baker Beach, “the whispering bushes” and the southern convenience station at the polo field at the western end of Golden Gate Park, the Hyatt Embarcadero, the 1808 Club, the Shaklee building, the Russ Building, The Playground, the Sir Francis Drake, Mike’s Night Gallery, the Sheraton Palace…
You get the idea. There was a lot of action going on in The City. All. The. Time.
Inspired to start keeping a record of my life in San Francisco after seeing Prick Up Your Ears about a year after my arrival there, my journals read like an embarrassing, depressing erotic novel, full of saucy but ultimately empty encounters, littered with the names of men of whom I now have no conscious memory.
I can’t help but think that in the wake of 9/11 and the added security everywhere that followed, most of those locales have long since been locked down, but I know how industrious and creative horny men can be, and despite the authorities’ best efforts, trysts will still happen somewhere.
Before I moved to San Francisco, when my friend Kent (who had arrived about six years earlier) once related how he stopped to have sex with some guy he met while on the way to a date with another, I was appalled. I could not understand how such a thing could happen, much less that anyone would actually partake. Note I said before I moved there…
While that particular scenario never happened to me, it was apparently not that uncommon, and I had plenty of other equally lascivious encounters during that decade and a half to make up for it. To this day I’m still amazed that I made it out alive, somehow remained STD/AIDS free, and didn’t end up with a police record.