Maps.

On Day Two of our little lovers’ escape, it rained. RAINED.

We packed ourselves full of diner breakfast treats early and set off to enjoy the cable cars that were terribly crowded the day before. The plan had been to hit all three lines to see what we’d missed hoofing it up and down side streets the day before: Up to Fisherman’s Wharf on one line, down again from the Ghirardelli Square area, and then across to Little Saigon and Japantown because they were right next to each other at the end of the California line. Or so I thought.

We rode up as planned, in the open seats at the front. TLOML enjoyed hanging out of the car taking photos and video, despite the cold, fat raindrops assaulting us the entire way. I enjoyed the view with my ass planted firmly in my seat, thanks. There is ample video evidence of my disinterest in swinging one-handed from a moving vehicle. I fall down in flat shoes. People like me don’t need any extra pain-inducing pursuits to get our fill of ow.

He swears he’s more directionally challenged than I am, so I handled navigation. Haaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaaa. Once off the first cable car, I took us roughly a dozen or more blocks out of the way north, east, a little south, a little more east, then back south, and finally west, before we finally found the second cable car line. Fortunately there was a break in the rain for much of this meandering. When we finally found it, we hopped on and headed in the direction of the California line. More rain, but we made the connection okay and headed across to the end, which, according to the map, was where Little Saigon should have been.

I would have been right, were it not for a little line I had overlooked, which connected the words “Little Saigon” with an area roughly a million blocks south and east of where we ended up. Good thing I realized my error exactly 7 seconds after we got off and the cable car had left! No worries, we were still roughly in the area of Japantown, so we decided to look for that, and lunch, instead.

We went north, ducked under an awning to shield ourselves from rain, and pulled the map back out. Too far north.

We headed several blocks south, pulled it out under another awning, too far south.

We headed north again, and west, before deciding a bus might be a good idea, considering we were both nearing “soaked through” and all. We waited at a bus shelter, and peered at a map again.

A note on San Francisco’s…er, colorful…homeless population: there are a lot of homeless people in San Francisco. There are also a lot of people in San Francisco who just seem to cultivate a homeless and destitute look. It is often impossible to tell these groups apart until you have made eye contact and been engaged in conversation. So we were both leery of the disheveled gentleman who took in our map and general sogginess and said, evenly, “You folks tourists?”

This particular gentleman followed that statement with helpful directions to Japantown rather than a request for money, and suggested we just walk the three or four blocks he said separated us from out destination. We thanked him and headed north again, per his suggestion. He was almost right. When, four uphill blocks later, we had not seen the bridge-walkway thing he had told us would mark the spot, I pulled the map out again. Too far east, too far north. Still.

Thank god for the picturesque surroundings and a big breakfast. We finally stumbled upon Japantown roughly an hour and change after getting off the damn cable car. Cold, wet, and hungry, we snapped some pics and then made a beeline for the bridgey-covered-mall thing the guy on the street promised, and inhaled giant bowls of udon and slightly smaller bowls of rice and unagi, then puttered around the shops. I hugged the largest Totoro I have ever seen, we took a picture of his namesake frozen yogurt stand (Japan and Zimbabwe share surnames, apparently) and when confronted with the pinkiest Sanrio explosion I’ve seen in some time, TLOML demurred, insisting entry would sully his manhood or similar. Fair enough. We moved on.

Shortly thereafter, we realized we had to make tracks to make our appointed dinner meeting with BFF and her hubs, who moved to the bay area a month ago, so we headed back to the hotel to dry off a little beforehand. Note to visitors of the King George Hotel staying in the west-facing room on the fifth floor: Sorry the hairdryer smells like feet, but I only brought the one pair of shoes and it was wet and cold that day. Onward.

We all wandered west, through the Tenderloin, toward some highly rated northern Indian grub. Along the way, we passed a needle exchange center, where TLOML ran into a friend he hadn’t seen since college years earlier. She’s a lawyer now, representing the org, and happened to be packing it in for the weekend. How weird is that, running into someone you once knew in a small town thousands of miles away? Tiny world!

We finally made it to Shalimar, and promptly packed ourselves as full of naan-y, saucy goodness as we were able. Trust me, we worked very, very hard at it. After, we headed to a bar for a drink apiece, save BFF, who is off the sauce due to no-doubt-adorably gestating BFF Jr. This, by the way, is a most exciting development, and I cannot wait to buy onesies with inappropriate slogans written on them for when the wee one makes his or her anxiously awaited appearance. CANNOT WAIT. I’m thinking something from this collection right here.

After making plans to meet up and enjoy more touristy excitements the next day, we parted company and TLOML and I crashed hard at the hotel. We pushed it to midnight, though. We’re goddamn rockstars.


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