The night started off with a grilled cheese party at The Melt on Market Street. I’d partnered with them to do a rad giveaway, in which contestants entered their best cheese-related puns for musician names and the winners got to attend the grilled cheese party and see a show at The Warfield afterward.
The puns were fantastic. There was Curd Cobain, Method Man-chego and Bruce String Cheese & the Brie Street Band. I mean, really, what’s better than eating a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches while drinking beer and giggling about clever cheese puns?
Don’t answer that, vegans.
After the party, we all rolled down to The Warfield to see Big Gigantic. When we arrived, Brasstracks was playing. I’d never head them before, but they were brilliant. They played funky dancy tunes that were absurdly catchy. I loved them instantly. Once Big Gigantic came on, my friend and I lost interest because, though the music was similar, it just wasn’t as good as Brasstracks. We finished our drinks and wandered out.
It had been a few hours of drinking, eating and boogying by then, so we were feeling damn good when we walked by a huge holiday party for a tech company. Crashing fancy parties is one of my favorite things, so I turned to my friend and said, “We’re totally going in there.” Without blinking an eye, she said, “Of course,” and we walked to the entrance.
I got stopped by the person with the guest list, which allowed her to keep walking right on in, and after a couple minutes of bullshitting, the fella with the clipboard let me in as well.
As we entered, the party was winding down, so we each nabbed a free drink before the house lights started coming up. “Where now?” my friend asked. After thinking for a second, I realized Aunt Charlie’s was nearby — and my friend had never been there.
“I know the perfect place,” I told her, and we set off on our course.
As we approached the exit of the tech party, they were giving out really soft and lovely blankets as swag to all the attendees. It had started to rain on our way to Aunt Charlie’s, and since my friend and I both live indoors and have enough blankets, we gave ours so some folks huddled in a doorway in the Tenderloin. We figured they’d need them far more than us.
Aunt Charlie’s is a dingy dive, where drag queens and trans women sashay down the narrow walkway between the bar and the wall, lip-syncing to loud music. It’s a pure magic in the every possible way, so we piled on more drinks while stuffing dollar bills into the silky tops of these wonderful performers.
Finally, we needed some more food to soak up all the booze we’d imbibed and traipsed over to Mel’s Diner. Sitting among the memorabilia and the 1950s pop music seemed like a perfect end to a fantastic night. When my friend got up to use the bathroom though, I looked at my phone and saw a Facebook update mentioning that it was the one-year anniversary of the “Ghost Ship” fire. When she returned from the bathroom, my friend found me weeping into my food.
The fire hit me really hard last year. I had at least one friend in common with everyone who died, and some of them I had 50 or 60 friends in common with. It was devastating to my community, to our community, and its shock waves still ripple outward as art spaces keep getting shut down.
The food and the tears sobered me up some, and I realized it was time to head home. Even with the sad turn at the end, it was a perfect night. Because that’s just how life is, we need a little something to remind us how fleeting life is so we can deeper enjoy the moments revelry. And there will be no shortage of revelry this month.
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.