Daisy Bateman

Saturday, Part Two: High Times

It was still early in the afternoon when we were done with Pier 39, and since we were being tourists it seemed like an appropriately touristy thing to do to go climb Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower. We saw the parrots fly by, but didn’t spot them in the trees along the stairs, though we did see a red-tailed hawk circling with an eye to a parrot lunch.

Coit Tower: Iconic idiosyncrasy of the San Francisco skyline, affording views across the city, the bay and beyond. My comment, upon arriving: “Traffic is pretty light on the bridge today.”

We didn’t pay the admission and go into the tower, because we didn’t feel like it, so after one circuit around the base we went back down by the other stairs and made our way back towards Downtown. On the way, we passed through Chinatown, which has to be one of the few neighborhoods in the city that has totally resisted the encroachment of the new “modern” businesses. There are no ironic hipster bars, no tiny minimalist galleries, no restaurants specializing in “fusion” of any sort. Just groups of old men playing Mah Jong, storefront businesses offering in explicable services, a guy crossing the street with a crate of chickens (dead and plucked) (the chickens, not the guy), and the exact same tourist-trap shops selling the exact same cheap t-shirts, change purses and bamboo back-scratchers as they had when I came here on grade-school field trips.

On our way back we stopped at Macy’s, to get Megan some going-out-in-the-evening clothes (she had only packed for tourism) and to take a look at their flower show display. They must spend a lot of time sweeping up petals. Then it was back to the hotel and some rest for our much-abused feet (as much as I love the comfort features of my new shoes, even they can only do so much), at least until it became clear that the walls of our room were too thin to stand up to the conversation of the people next door, and we had to call down and get ourselves moved. Then, back to the resting.

For dinner we settled on Anzu, in the Hotel Nikko, because it got a good write-up in my Zagat’s for its sushi and because it was only about a block away. That part was important. So yes, I had Japanese for dinner, and no, I did not have tempura. It wasn’t on the menu, for one thing, and I for one was just fine with that. Instead, we both went for the raw option; we each chose a roll, and I had the sushi assortment, while Megan went for the sashimi. Her sushi roll had spicy tuna in it and a thin slice of jalapeno on top, to which she added as much wasabi to each piece as I had in my entire dish of soy sauce. She offered me a piece, but I declined, in the interest of being able to taste the rest of my dinner. My sushi was delicious, with wonderfully fresh and clearly high-quality fish, though the chef did have an unfortunate affection for putting cucumber in things. I don’t like cucumber. I don’t like it so much that I spent about a third of the time at dinner eating and the rest poking cucumber out of pieces of sushi with my chopsticks. Megan made fun of me, calling me Daisy “Hates Cucumber” James, but as I pointed out, Megan “Hot Enough For Ya?” Sampson really shouldn’t be talking.

The whole point of having a weekend in the city being to have, you know, a weekend in the city, our evening did not end with dinner. On Megan’s recommendation we made our way to the bar at the top of the Hilton, where the view is as gorgeous as the drinks are overpriced, though at least we were lucky to get in early enough not to have to pay the cover charge. I had gotten a head start on the the drinking at dinner and with no driving to do I saw no reason not to press my advantage. I was not, I should point out, what anyone would consider wasted. Tipsy, I would say, or perhaps somewhat inebriated, but even after we abandoned the Hilton and stopped for one more at the crowded and yuppified Redwood Room in our hotel, I was entirely lucid, if perhaps a little happier than normal. And I will admit that Megan, who was taking it a little easier, declared me to be “cute,” which is perhaps not the usual adjective used to describe my personality. But we both agreed that it was a much better idea to do this sort of thing when you are not particularly young and stupid (or at least young). For one thing, you can afford it.

Next: Hmm, weekend day in San Francisco, what will I do? Why, I just can’t imagine. . .

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