It’s Fogust here in San Francisco. Our Great Grey Dame can even be seen sashaying through the Mission District, leaning gently into the husks of burnt buildings as if she’s peering in with sadness. The downtown skyscrapers, those monuments to industry and wealth, look as if the sky got tired of being scraped and decided to throw a blanket on them. The Sunset and the Richmond have been lost all together, and the search party says they won’t be found again until September.
Yes, Fogust … it must have been Fogust when the person who is not Mark Twain made that famous Twainian remark about the coldest winter being a summer in San Francisco. That person must’ve been relatively new to San Francisco because there’s a hint of incredulousness in there. Newbies view our foggy summers as something they have to unfortunately endure. Those of us who’ve given ourselves completely to The City view this as the time we feel most at home.
I was up in Lake Tahoe last weekend, doing things you can’t do in San Francisco, like breath in fresh pine air, swim in temperate water and wear shorts. It was in the 80s each day, and people basked in the sun while lying on the beach. It was nice to see what summer felt like to the rest of the world.
Driving back through the Central Valley, the temperature reached as high as 110 degrees — an ugly number that would make the entirety of San Francisco melt like wax. Then, crossing over the Emperor Norton Bridge, as the fog draped across The City like someone passed out peacefully on a couch. I sighed with love as the temperature tumbled down to Fogust numbers. It’s always wonderful to come home, and I look silly in shorts anyways.
It was the fog that shrouded the Golden Gate from Sir Francis Drake when he sailed up the coast. He had no idea what kind of magnificence he passed by on his way north. The fog hid the entire Bay from him. And in a way, that’s what Fogust does to those who can’t wait around for September.
As far as I know, the jury is still out as to whether or not the term “Indian Summer” is racist, but they have brought back a verdict saying that September and October are the best months to be in San Francisco.
Nobody appreciates nice weather like San Franciscans. We may feel most at home during our cold and foggy summers, but come September, The City springs to life all twitterpated and ready to mingle. By that time, the tourists have mostly gone home, and every weekend has some sort of decadent splendor — Folsom Street Fair, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Fleet Week — all of it hitting a crescendo with Halloween before it peters out into our (hopefully) rainy months.
But right now, it’s Fogust, and the best way to honor that is to do what San Franciscans have been doing for a century and a half: Walk through the evening, arm in arm with someone you might be in love with, and use their scarf to pull them closer while you lean in for a kiss. Or sit in a dark bar, occasionally looking out the window, while you scribble poetry about the one that got away. Or stay up late on a rooftop with new friends drinking whiskey and telling stories. Or stay in early reading a book about all the places you’ve yet to see.
Fogust is romance thrown into the atmosphere. Just when you feel like you’re too busy or too old or too jaded to feel romantic about anything ever again, step outside and realize that at least you’ll always have Fogust.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com. Broke-Ass City runs Thursdays in the San Francisco Examiner.