Crucial Information for the Midwesterner’s First Time in San Francisco

First of all, I would like to congratulate you on making it out to this heathen city. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time and have some interesting stories to avoid telling your parents when you get back.

As you may have noticed already, San Francisco is not like the place you are from. Not only is it anywhere from 8-20x more expensive, but there is a very palpable cultural difference that reflects itself in everything from who people cheer for on Election Night to the kinds of music you won’t find on the radio station to the way people conceive the vast expanse in the middle of the United States.

Let’s begin with a few tidbits of information that will help make your time here as pleasant as possible.

1. Geography: Many San Franciscans have forgotten about the Midwest entirely, and are only reminded of it every four years when they watch most of it turn an accusing color of red and they boo. This is not a positive connotation. The red, for them, will stand for anger, ignorance, and obesity, three words that start with vowels. Some may even express fear at visiting the place you call home, as if the moment they stepped there, they would be accosted and forced to listen to country music  and believe in Jesus. Do not tell them that this is true. Avoid getting defensive, and merely laugh along with their bigotry. Then, make a note and send it back to your prayer circle to get something moving on the cosmic justice front.

2. Coffee: Be very careful of where you purchase your brown brew. Learn to identify the words “hand-crafted” or “hand-made” with “expensive” and “slow” and sometimes “too strong.” Be prepared to pay up to $4 for a brewed coffee that would have cost $1 at McDonald’s. If you’re not a true aficionado, it won’t be worth the money or the wait. Don’t feel bad about it. Just embrace who you really are and look up the nearest fast food restaurant on your smartphone. Do not ask a stranger.

3. Naked Flesh: Many/Most San Franciscans are horrifyingly more sex-positive than the average Midwesterner and lack a natural and healthy body shame. To make the matter more interesting, public nudity is lawful in some areas of the city (maybe all of it). It is possible, depending on your luck and the weather, that you will see nude flesh of varying quality as you mind your own business in the city, especially in an area known as the Castro. If this happens, don’t stare, don’t gawk, and don’t take pictures, weirdo. Just walk on by. If you’re with someone else who doesn’t see the nude flesh, do them a favor and don’t tell them about it. Let them live in peaceful oblivion and innocence.

4. Dogs:  San Franciscans love their animals. In many cases, the animals are their children and they are treated as such. You will see an astounding array of fresh pet food stores, dogs wearing various clothing items and political buttons, and  people taking their dogs out to eat with them at restaurants that encourage this sort of behavior. You can use this to your advantage by making it a conversation starter, “Do you have a pet? How much money do you spend on it, per year? Is that more than the money you give to charity?” And so on.

I hope this was a good introduction to the subject of Midwesterner travel in San Francisco. The topic may or may not be continued. It’s not really any of your business.

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16 thoughts on “Crucial Information for the Midwesterner’s First Time in San Francisco

  1. Molly says:

    Having brought my Midwestern family to San Francisco, I would also advise midwesterners wear a bright orange hunting jacket, so they won’t get lost in any of the crowds.

  2. couchrice says:

    I used to work at UCSF Medical Center. Love the city but the parking is scarce and can be very expensive! Pier 39, Seafood restaurants, Johnny Foley’s bar, and the happy people who live there are the most memorable! (tell your woman friends NOT to wear high heels during a night out!)

  3. Do you have any crucial information for the Brit’s first time in San Francisco? Should I expect pet dogs to make sexy time to my leg..? :S

  4. I’ve always wanted to know where the most authentic Rice A Roni could be found. I’ve also wanted to know if the ‘natives’ roll their eyes at people who still ask that.

  5. maryisidra says:

    Minus the rumor of fog,S.F. sounds like my kinda place. I knew some one that visited and they had a blast.More pics please (Yes I know you are not a travel blog) 🙂

  6. “Natural and healthy body shame”… That is hilarious!! Cool post. You got some of the more important points of SF living right on here. For sure your observation about the pets. I personally think that the pets contribute to SF’s different way of thinking. People with pets tend to connect to other living things better i have found. I have lived in SF for 20 years and i tell you, in neighborhoods that did not have a park close by or was a “high end” neighborhood (russian hill for me), there was less of a pet footprint and the residents were less friendly than those who were living by parks (which usually attract pet owners who are looking for more space to exercise their dogs.). I personally would chose to live in a more middle class neighborhood with lots of dogs and dog owners than a high end one in SF… BUT i would take ANY neighborhood (including Vis. Valley!!) over living in the midwest!!! 🙂

  7. tedstrutz says:

    I love your Frisco stories… but for God’s sake, don’t ever call it that! Many years ago, The 49’ers were playing in Miami (I think) and on the scoreboard they put ‘Frisco’. The mayor or someone powerful in S.F. called and bitched… they changed it to S.F. at halftime.

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