There are some aspects of life in America that—armed with years of Hollywood stereotypes—you can mentally prepare yourself for. Think large food portions, the large people that result, and the litigious nature of society. Other phenomena, like the rise of Donald Trump and the number of naked bottoms on display in public remain more of a mystery. I remember initially thinking when we moved to the U.S. that I would find it hard to deal with the sometimes over friendly servers who introduce themselves like they do in the movies and TV shows in America: “Hi, I’m Mary-Lou and I’ll be your server for tonight!” But my encounters here have on the most part been less friendly than I had anticipated. Maybe the clothes shops have hired all the over-the-top, have-a-nice-day service folks.
Don’t get me wrong: the overall level of service is pretty good. I love that I can make changes to something on the menu here without eyebrows being raised or a look that says there is no way we can do that. That wasn’t the case in Singapore, but in San Francisco nothing seems too much or too bizarre to request. Case in point: I don’t eat much meat and can’t stand mushrooms; for some reason, in Singapore restaurants, where there are not a lot of great options for vegetarians, mushrooms, fake meat or tofu appear to be the given substitute for meat. Faced with such Catch-22 situations as Mushroom Lasagna, Tofu Risotto or Tacos ( with fake meat), I would ask to substitute for something else, and the outcome was often a simple “no” or a look that suggested I was making life difficult. I used to engage in a hilarious conversation at MacDonalds in Singapore. I went through a phase of ordering a Big Mac minus the meat – don’t judge me, I liked the sauce and all the other bits – and the conversation would go something like this. Me: “May I have a Big Mac but no meat please.” Server “No meat?” Me: “Correct.” Server: “No meat?!” Me: “That’s right.” Server: “No meat…” Sometimes this went on so long that I ordered a regular Big Mac and took out the meat myself. I have to admit I haven’t tried it out yet here. Me and my picky eating habits! And there was no hiding the look of bewilderment that you would want to change anything on the menu in the first place. In Singapore, asking for vegetables and salads with no sauce or dressing was a challenge. If you did manage to get your order delivered as requested, you might get a generous helping of salt and pepper to substitute for the sauce just to ensure it wasn’t bland.
In San Francisco, however, anything can happen that you might call “off the menu” and often does. One night I was out having dinner when I looked out the window to see a group of cyclists going by with two of them, both men, wearing no clothes at all. One had a top hat on his head, which does not count. Two girls who walked passed commented that it was “never the guys naked in the streets that you actually wanted to see naked in the streets.” And I’ve seen so many naked bottoms walking north and south of Market Street—for any number of reasons—that I’ve lost count. In the Castro there is a guy who walks around naked bar a golden sleeve protecting his decency. Twice I heard someone say, when exposed to the same view as me, “only in San Francisco” to anyone who would listen.
Naked men in the streets notwithstanding, I love that I can go into a burger place like Super Duper and order a great veggie burger along with a glass of wine.
Super Duper Burgers is a regular hangout whether I’m on a date with my husband, by myself, or cajoling my niece into agreeing Super Duper Burgers are better than In-N-Out Burger.
Overall I love going out to eat here in SF. There is a great selection of different restaurants and cafes to choose from, but I am still waiting for the ’50s TV-inspired girl or boy next door-type server to appear rather than the slightly intimidating trendy waitstaff that I have come across so far. As for the appearance of so many naked asses—Donald Trump included—how much rough do you have to take with the smooth? I suppose we will find out in November.