Yesterday was Halloween. I didn't realize what a big holiday it is in San Francisco. The first sign that things weren't quite right came when I got to the bus-stop at Fillmore & Jackson... and waited 45 minutes for a bus that's supposed to run every 15. I tried calling a taxi from my cellphone but every taxi service's line was busy. (Those of you asking "why didn't you just hail a cab" are obviously not from San Francisco; you'd have better luck hitchhiking.)
As I waited for the bus, I looked at all the people walking by. Most everybody had a costume of some sort. I saw everything from modest devil ears to full-out S & M regalia. Caterpillars, clowns, Christ (more on that later)... it was surreal.
When the bus finally came, it was marked "SPECIAL". I asked the driver what the schedule would be tonight and he just shrugged. "I have no idea," he said. "It's crazy tonight."
Things were pretty calm until we got a little further down Divisadero. At this point a HUGE group of extremely drunk, loud kids got on the bus. The bus was soon so crowded that you couldn't see anything except the people all around you. I was sitting down, thankfully, cos the people standing up had it even worse. Elbows in the back, hot drunken breath every which way. The only problem with sitting down was that there was no way you were getting off until the bus thinned out a bit, not without a huge struggle at least.
Things came to a head when the kids got into a huge argument with some other drunken kids about the relative merits of the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers. The central thrust of the first group's argument seemed to be:
"FORTY-NINERRRRRRRRRRRRRSSSSSSSS!!!" (shouted at top volume)
whereas the other camp's point of view was more along the lines of:
"RAAAIIIIDERRRRRSSSSSS!!!" (shouted at deafening volume, so loud that I was experiencing heart palpitations)
Then, for kicks, they all started shouting random threats and jokes, for sustained periods of time. It was impossible to hear anything over the din. At several points I think fights almost broke out. Getting off would have been absurdly difficult. The only thing to do was wait it out.
Eventually the bus got to Castro, where most people got off. I was meeting others at Angi's place, so I stayed on. As the bus crossed the junction of Market and Castro, I looked out into the crazy night. It was amazing! Thousands of people, decked out in every imaginable costume, all shouting and carousing and drinking and moving slowly like a sea, towards nowhere in particular. Fireworks went off every now and then, people were walking through the streets with wild abandon. I'd never seen anything quite like it.
On the last leg of my bus ride, I was sitting right across from a guy dressed as Christ. His costume was very realistic-- he had blood dripping from his eyes, crown of thorns, blood coming from holes in his wrists. I felt like I was on acid, just sitting there taking in all the weirdness.
Eventually Angi Shawn & I met up with the rest of the bay crew. We wandered around checking out the scene, then went back to Dolores Park and drank a couple six packs. Sounds very high school doesn't it? It was fun, but next year I'm going to have a better costume.
Oh-- I was a pirate. I had a bandanna and a plastic sword I bought for two bucks at a suspiciously temporary-looking "Halloween Superstore" that popped up out of thin air on Market. Originally I was going to wear a pirate hat on top of a graduation cap and say I was a "graduate of Pirate School", but that fell through because I was too cheap to buy both hats. I ended up with the finest costume money could buy, provided you define "money" as "$2".
Angi & I were thinking it would be funny if my pirate name was "Yar", because then I could have the following conversation:
Stranger: Oh, you're a pirate! What's your name?
Me: Yar... Yar.