Cutural Norms

28th April 2008

I am in my car with friends in the Castro, waving to the tiny girl on the corner. Her fathers are holding her hands as they wait to cross the street. By the time they notice me, my waving has grown more desperate, and they exchange an uneasy glance. They look away, across the avenue, and finally see what my friends and I have already seen — a man, stark naked at noon on a Sunday, waiting to cross in the opposite direction.

The fathers squeeze the little girl’s hands and point at me, smiling. “HI!” I say. “Hi, ka-toots!” She waves back at me, puzzled, and looks up at her dads. All of us together are grinning urgently. The family crosses, and the naked man passes them while we continue to exchange imperative waves. “Hello! Hello! Hello! ”

When they’ve passed our car, the debate begins.

-What the hell is up, Naked Guy?
-Is this a thing? Convention? Street Fair?
-I don’t think so.
-I think that’s crazy right there.
-A dare maybe?
-If it were a dare, wouldn’t he at least be wearing shoes?
-Yep, that’s stark-naked crazy.

Then, Naked Guy crosses again, and we see him approach Naked Guy #2.

-Ah! There’s two of them.
-OK, then.
-That’s a thing.
-We officially live in a city where one naked guy makes us more nervous than two.

22 thoughts on “Cutural Norms

  1. Nora

    Several years ago, I worked in downtown San Francisco. One night, leaving work, I was just crossing Drumm street when a man on a bicycle wearing nothing but a diaper whipped around the corner.

    “Heh,” I thought. “I love San Francisco.”

    I hadn’t got half a block when I saw another man on a bike, this time dressed as a bumblebee. Then two girls with sparkly antennae on their helmets.

    It wasn’t until I was on the Muni & halfway home that I remembered it was Halloween. After all, a man in a diaper? A bicycling bumblebee? Just another day round these parts.

  2. Carrie

    Thanks for the mammaries. Mannaries?

    We lived just off Folsom in SOMA. The first time the Folsom Street Fair happened, we had no idea. We strolled down the street, expecting to sample some Mexican food and maybe buy a Guatamalen handbag like any other street fair.

    Instead, we saw a guy not just naked, but fluffing himself. In the first block. But hey, it was a beautiful day, so we just walked, and walked, and saw, and saw. And saw.

  3. Tracy27

    Oh my God, I love the last line – that so totally sums up San Francisco, and why it’s so entirely adorable even with its shabby bits.

  4. sweetcheese

    HA! Thats exactly what its like. One naked guy = watch out everybody, but several naked guys = ok then, that must be alright.
    I am still laughing!

  5. Christy

    That is freakin’ hilarious! I love it–2 naked guys, ‘oh it’s a thing’. I am starting to envision a sit-com episode based on this one!

  6. kindle

    Was this Friday? Because I totally saw two naked guys hanging out on the corner of Castro and Market at like 10:30 at night. With drinks in their hands.

  7. Robin

    Oh how I miss San Francisco — not only because naked dudes can be free to express their … um, nakedness, but because there are people like you who take the time to share your friendly nature and spare a little girl from getting an eyeful of man junk. Beautiful.

  8. steph

    As a parent, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to try and distract the little girl. It takes a village, indeed. ;)

    Note to self: beware taking daughter to the Castro.

  9. Ms. Karen

    Obviously I’m hanging out with the wrong friends. We never see naked guys. We do, occasionally, get serenaded in Pioneer Square, but everyone is fully clothed.

  10. bay area gal

    Sunday night my husband and I walked by a man with a head covering like the, kind pharoahs wear. It was striped, emerald green and gold. He was carrying a gold staff with an emerald green snake curled around it. We averted our eyes because we didn’t want to offend him by staring.

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  12. Spatula

    OK, I’m not a parent, so don’t hit me or anything, but what is so wrong with the human body that children must be protected from the mere sight of it? Don’t most kids see their parents naked at some point? I don’t get it.

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