Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I Left My Schmuck in San Francisco

Sometimes it's hard for a girl to know what to wear. Or how much to wear. Whether it's dressing to stay out of trouble in Salah ud-Din . . .

. . . or to get into it in San Francisco . . .

. . . there can be so many choices to make. Spangles . . . or tassels? Choker . . . or necklace? Fan . . . or lorgnette? And which earrings? Clothing is a luxury for much of the world, worrying about which clothing even more of a luxury.

Except in San Francisco, where horns are locked, swords are drawn, cudgels taken up (all pointy, metaphorical things, of course) in defense of what not to wear. The supreme luxury, in questions sartorial, is that delicate frisson, the pique of feeling put upon when a paternalistic city, like a distant father, dictates that if you're going to go about nude (which is in accordance with municipal law) then you must seat yourself on a towel "or other material" when using public seating. Well really, dear.

A San Francisco city supervisor with the infinitely freighted name of Scott Wiener has proposed a city ordinance forbidding nudity in restaurants and "requir[ing] unclad people to put a towel or other material down before sitting bare-bottomed on benches or other public seats." The response was immediate. The San Francisco Bay Guardian printed a helpful recyclable tear-out in a recent issue to enable easy compliance with the proposed Wiener ordinance (or, "Wiener's proposed ordinance," if you prefer).

San Francisco being a hotbed of militant older men, other responses were more predictable. In the storied Castro District, a smallish crowd of naked protestors shoaled up like a pod of sunburned walruses in a damp autumn fog last Saturday to protest the ordinance, which most considered unnecessary since most already complied with the spirit of the law. The "Nude-In," as one might expect, did not draw the flower of the masculine populace (or would the opposite of "distaff" be "mastiff"? Someone please look it up and let me know.) And for my money, walking around naked in a September fog in San Francisco seems more like a hard-nippled, clasped-arms way of making a point (see photo) than "celebrating the freedom of the body" or whatever similar rationale floated in that rarified, post-D.H. Lawrence coastal air.

One lady who brought some out-of-town visitors for this Only-in-San-Francisco Moment asked the question on everyone's lips, “Where are the supermodel types? We want to know why it’s always the people who should not be naked who get naked.” (Not even to mention what chilly air will do for your shwanz.)

"If we're all wearing shoulder bags, does that count as naked?"

I've never actually spent much time in the "City By the Bay," but I'm told that this sort of thing is pretty serious business there. The aristocracy of that city take a pretty hard "Don't Tread On Me" stance when it comes to what they will or won't do - whether in personal fashion, political leanings, religious convictions, window treatments - which I understand all come to pretty much the same thing on the West Coast.

". . . and that goes for my Dorothy Draper chintz valances."

The case could be made that they have a point. It takes only a nominal prudence and foresight to carry something to sit on when in public, considering that it's a good deal simpler to remove, say, a wad of someone else's chewing gum from a towel than it is to ask even the dearest of friends their assistance in divesting your mechanically inaccessible parts of the same.

But the lady asked an important question. Why is it that the only people one ever hears about going stark naked are men in whom all the gristle is gone, men who should probably be wearing something . . .  

I actually have a theory about that. I think it's guys about my age who grew up in those crazy Eisenhower Years. 

"Wanna get naked, kid?"

from The Guardian, November 20, 2012

Nudists vow to defy anti-nudity law in San Francisco
San Francisco nudists said on Monday they would continue to walk the streets naked regardless of a proposed law that would order them to cover up.

City authorities are meeting on Tuesday to decide on a new anti-nudity law that is being supported by residents and business owners in the city’s Castro district.

Nudists (in bathrobes)
The law would make it an offence for anyone over the age of five to “expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza”.

Lloyd Fishbach, left, who was standing naked at the corner of Castro and Market, said it should be his choice to dress as he wants, where he wants.

“There is always someone who is not going to like what you are doing,” he said. “I live in the Castro and I’ve been doing this since first grade. This is just a bunch of uptight Americans. But I’ll still keep doing it and if I see the cops coming I will run and hide.”

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