Drenched at the San Francisco Ballet

Here is another true travel story as told through my writing. Enjoy 🙂

During March of 2011, there was this thing called the “supermoon” that was getting a lot of hype. Apparently, it is when the moon is closest to the earth, and this one was supposed to be bigger than normal, or some such who knows what. I didn’t pay that much attention at the time. I should have, but I didn’t.

While Roseanne and I were on this “single ladies are awesome” kick, we had been taking a road trip somewhere every year for about three years, starting right after I had left my ex-husband and not long after Roseanne had been cheated on by her longtime turd of a boyfriend. Even though she had entertained the idea of a couple of guys since then, and one or two may have caught my attention in passing, we still held true to the road trip tradition, and this year was no different. This year, we were off to San Francisco, a favorite city of both of ours and one we couldn’t wait to get back to.

March was an iffy month to travel in where we lived since we had to drive over a giant mountain pass to get to California, but we figured March was close enough to spring that we would be fine.

First two days were pretty all right. Rainy but manageable. We had gotten into San Francisco without much issue and had spent our time shopping and gossiping and generally doing what girls do best.

We ran into trouble the night we went to the ballet.

We’d decided to take a cab so we didn’t have to worry about directions, and we went to a fancy Italian dinner in Little Italy. Afterwards, we went to the ballet, but the rain was nothing more than a dreary drizzle.

Fast forward three hours, and I was rushing through the lobby of the opera house, trying to find Roseanne since I had gone to the bathroom and she had gone out to go smoke a cigarette. I finally braved going outside, even after seeing the horizontal rain flying by out the doors, and screamed as soon as I stepped foot out of the building. I tried to shield myself with my umbrella, but it almost instantly turned inside out.

I spotted Roseanne on the far side of the building, huddled next to some shrubs and talking to a random guy about lord knew what. I shlogged my way over to them, getting pelted by rain and generally feeling like I was stuck in a tropical storm. “Oh my gosh, Roseanne!” I cried. “What are you doing? I’m about to lose my mind!” I had always had bad anxiety, and being pummeled to death by blowing frozen rain was a sure way to get my hackles raised. “Seriously!”

She must have heard the desperate note in my voice because she grabbed hold of my arm and started hauling me toward the bus stop across the street. “All right, the guy said that there is a bus stop over here. And you know where we are going, right?”

I nodded numbly as I tried to huddle under her umbrella. Before we’d gone on the trip, I’d asked my grandmother if she had an extra umbrella we could use. Who would have known that the ugly-patterned umbrella from the sixties or seventies would have been the one to withstand gale force winds and hurricane rain?

As we ran across the street in our best theatre dress, which was nothing formidable against this freakish storm, I thought about where we were heading and checked the sign at the bust station to make sure it was for real. We needed to get to Geary Street. It was where our hotel was, as well as the bar I wanted to take Roseanne to.

During all of this, I had a flashback to our previous trip to San Francisco, when I had done extensive research to find a rock club I wanted to go to and hadn’t been able to go because of an unfortunate incident with some lesbians that resulted in Roseanne having the worst panic attack ever. I was so not going to be denied a chance to go to another place I wanted to go to this time! I already knew where this place was, and all I had to do was make sure we got there. Roseanne was the type of person who got annoyed after so long and just shut down and wanted to go to bed. Not me. I was a warrior. And I was going to get to this bar if it freaking killed me. Supermoon be damned.

We joined the group of twenty or more ballet-goers all trying to take refuge in one another at the bus stop as the wind and rain continued to pelt us like some sort of freakish apocalypse movie, and to everyone’s annoyance, every time a gust blew freezing wetness our way, the six or so college girls all huddled together screamed in the kind of high pitch only cheerleaders could comprehend. It set everyone’s nerves on edge and did nothing to make the bus come any faster.

As I stood there, shivering, soaking, and glad that the shoes I had on were open-toed heels because I could at least drain the water out of them, Roseanne tapped on my shoulder to get my attention. I glanced back at her and she pointed to where a little old man of maybe seventy-five was hunkered down against the weather, no umbrella, hands in his pockets, and his jacket collar up as his only protection. He was enduring it all like a trooper as the water sluiced off of him. I glanced at the shrieking girls, appalled that they all had umbrellas and not one of them gave two craps about the freezing old man suffering in silence.

I pointed to Roseanne’s umbrella then over to the man, miming to the best of my ability with the torrential whooshing wind and the screaming idiots. She understood me and positioned herself next to the old man, shielding him from the downpour with her stalwart seventies umbrella.

The man muttered his thanks and continued to stand in stoic silence. Roseanne and I exchanged a look and she shook her head as if in disbelief over the fact that the other mob of people there had been so negligent. It was a moment where I truly appreciated my friend. Roseanne had a tendency to be loud, brash, and offensive to about ninety percent of the population, but she had a heart of gold and she genuinely cared about people. It was one of the reasons why I loved her, because we were the same that way. Despite both of our claims to be jaded and cynical and hardened to the world, when it came to someone in need, our hearts always got the better of us. It was probably why we had remained friends all these years.

Roseanne had done about eight hundred things I did not agree with, and I’m sure I had done about the same amount in her eyes. We were vastly different. But in this area, we were the same. We helped people who needed it. We helped friends who probably didn’t even deserve it. We gave second chances to people who really didn’t deserve it. Our hearts spoke the same language, and I loved her for that. She was one of the only people who had ever understood and accepted me despite our differences.

When the bus finally showed up, we mobbed it like some kind of zombie hoard, and packed it to the point where it was probably above capacity because no one even came to get our money. We all just stood there like drowned rats, staring blankly in silence. I don’t even know if Roseanne and I spoke to one another until we reached our stop, or for that matter, if anyone in the bus spoke at all. It seemed we were all in a unanimous state of shock.

When the bus finally let us off at Geary, I was dismayed to realize that 1. It was still raining just as hard and 2. While we were on the right street, we were still probably about twelve blocks away from our destination. The stress was making my eyes hurt. I tried in vain to hail a cab, and about three of them sailed past me without a care in the world.

“We should just go back to our hotel,” Roseanne muttered.

Oh no! I knew that exhausted tone in her voice. No way was I letting her bail on me again! It was time for drastic measures if I wanted to get to where I wanted to go. The stress and annoyance that was making my eyes bulge apparently morphed into some kind of crazy adrenaline because, suddenly, I had just freaking had it.

I spotted a cab about a block away, speeding our direction with no intention of stopping, and I jumped out into the middle of the street like a crazy person, waving my arms like I was flagging down an airplane. Needless to say, the cab stopped.

I yanked the door open and we piled in, muttering to the driver where we were headed.
“Geez,” Roseanne murmured. “You’re insane.”

“I just want a freaking beer,” I grumbled. The ballet had been six kinds of boring, the nosebleed section we had been in had been so hot that I was nursing a migraine, which had not been helped by the screaming banshees at the bus top. I was soaked and about two seconds away from hypothermia. I was so over it. When I got it in my head that something was going to get done, it got done. Period.

When we reached our destination, finally, we argued briefly with the cabbie about the fare since the Einstein had forgotten to turn the meter on, and we ambled out. Luckily, the rain had stopped, but the place that I remembered being posh and chill was jammed with people and thumping bass from the DJ spinning 90’s and Top 40 rap and hip hop. It put my teeth on edge and I headed toward the bar. I was severely in need of something alcoholic to calm my frazzled nerves.

I sent Roseanne out to scout for seats for us while I ordered a beer for me and some Jager for her. While waiting for the snail of a bartender, a tall, frizzy-haired man who looked like Fabio at sixty if he’d done drugs for twenty years swaggered over to me.

He leaned against the bar with an arrogant smirk and muttered a greeting.

I raised an eyebrow and did my best to be polite while simultaneously searching for how far along the bartender was in the progress of making our drinks. It was a beer and a shot. How hard could it be?

“This DJ is really good,” he said, flipping his gray hair over his shoulder.

I stared. I couldn’t help it. This was absurd. I looked past his shoulder for Roseanne and saw that she had snagged a seat close to the fireplace. I forced a smile and nodded at the man, hoping my lack of response would make him go away.

“You here alone?”

“Uh…no,” I said forcefully. “My friend and I are on vacation.”

If possible, his lecherous gaze got even creepier. Lucky for me, the bartender showed up at that moment with our drinks. I flung the money on the counter and strode away as swiftly as I could, given the crowd of people. Creeper Fabio’s eyes followed me over to Roseanne and me and I was bothered by it until a buxom brunette sauntered up to the bar and distracted him.

Whew. Dodged that bullet.

Although, I had to admit, getting hit on was nice, even though I only ever seemed to get hit on my creepy people.

Roseanne downed her shot of Jager and had two more and a beer before she finally felt relaxed and ready to dance, which was amazing since Roseanne didn’t dance. But, really, how could we not? Everyone was, and they were playing old school stuff from our high school years.

We chair danced for awhile, which is always easier—less limbs to worry about—and finally progressed to moving out onto the dance floor. My nerves had finally relaxed and we were laughing and being silly, what we usually did best. The two of us never had an issue making idiots out of ourselves.

Buzzed Roseanne finally shouted over to me, “I’m really horny!”

I raised an eyebrow and shouted back, “Yeah, that makes two of us!” I hadn’t had sex since I was married. I didn’t believe in premarital sex. So, there was that. I was human, after all. If I was a guy, I’d have a permanent affliction with which blue was part of the title.

“But we’re single!” she cried in despair.

And for some reason, that was hilarious. We giggled and high-fived one another like it was some kind of accomplishment. It was a true Sex in the City type moment.

-Brieanna Robertson

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