Since I couldn't actually become friends with a fictional character, I decided I'd do the next best thing and live in San Francisco someday, just like Stephanie Tanner. That someday finally happened 17 months ago and, in that time, I've learned this little city has quite a a few quirks. It's funky and weird and awesome all at the same time. But there are some key lessons about living in this city that I've had to learn the hard way.
Now I know some of these may seem like I'm getting down on the city a bit but make no mistake, I absolutely love living here and wouldn't change a thing. Except maybe the ridiculous taxes (and I'm not even a Republican so that should tell you something).
A sunny day does not equal warm weather. Always pack a sweater, even if it's August and 90+ degrees everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere.
You will get a contact high if you hang out at Ocean Beach, in the Haight, anywhere in Golden Gate Park on April 20th . . . you get the idea. The city should just adopt that distinctive cannabis smell as the Official Scent of San Francisco. You really can't avoid it.
Bike riders think they're drivers and wish to be treated as such, unless the rules of the road are inconvenient for them, in which case they wish to be treated like pedestrians and given the right of way every. single. time. How are you to know how to treat them? You don't. Just cross your fingers and say a prayer you don't kill one every time you get in your car.
When you head out some place unfamiliar, you'd better get that address right. One or two blocks in the wrong direction and things can get . . . entertaining, to put it nicely.
Never mind what the Health Code says, you will probably encounter a dog or two in the cafe / restaurant / grocery store down the street. It's okay, they're usually cute.
Does anyone actually live in the Presidio? I still haven't figured that one out.
Don't be fooled by the recent ban on public nudity. There is still quite a bit of inappropriateness to be found, especially at Baker Beach. And for citywide events like Bay to Breakers? Fuhgeddaboudit. You will definitely see old man junk whether you want to or not.
There are some really stupid drivers out on the road and they don't even know they're stupid drivers. That, combined with the crazy streets and hills of this city, can make for an ugly situation.
You are more likely to get weird stares in public if you are openly Republican than if you openly light up a joint and get to smokin'. It is the city's lowest priority in law enforcement, after all. . .
It's not enough to say what neighborhood you live in. San Franciscans want an intersection, too, people! A typical convo usually goes something like this:
SF'er: So what neighborhood are you in?
Newbie: (insert SF neighborhood here)
SF'er: Oh, really? Where?
Newbie: Uh . . . (wait, does this new person I literally just met 30 seconds ago really want my address or do they just magically know every street in the city?)
It's really hard to tell the difference between the hipsters and the homeless around here sometimes.
Still, the 26-year old "kid' you always see at the cafe down the street probably just launched his third tech company while you were sipping your overpriced-and-only-slightly-better-than-Starbucks coffee.
*sniff* *sniff sniff* What's that? Another funny smell in the city? It's okay, it's just beer. Because everyone here in the neighborhood is a home brewer and when they're taking the day off, Anchor Steam is beering it up. It's not a bad smell, just a distinct one that you will definitely notice.
I've never heard anyone actually from San Francisco refer to it as "Frisco" and I very rarely hear them call it "San Fran." It seems "SF" or "The City" are the only acceptable nicknames according to locals. It took me a while to figure that one out but now, I sound just like an overly-sensitive native getting my knickers in a twist when I hear the ol' "San Fran" thrown out in street convos.
And finally, if the sun is out, take advantage and get outside even if it's just for a walk around the block. You never know when that fog will come rolling in, engulfing the city in all its damp, chilly beautiful gray glory.