Monday, March 17, 2008
Spring Break in a Blue State
Spring Break in a Blue State
Disclaimer: Texans, you have no reason to send me angry emails after reading this article. I may have been born a yankee, but I’ve spent about 16 of my 23 years on Texas soil and am truly proud of my red state roots. Okay, well maybe “proud” isn’t the best word to describe the full extent of my feelings, but I swear I ain’t tryin’ to hate, ya’ll!
It’s amazing how fast a four-hour flight can seem when you’ve knocked down a few stiff drinks. I owe a big thank you, by the way, to our lovely waitress at Cantino Laredo in DFW’s Terminal D, who so kindly recommended the extra shots of Patron. Before I knew it, we were arriving in San Francisco, one of the most unapologetically liberal cities in the United States.
While there are many obvious differences between Dallas and San Francisco, such as the geography and variances in ethnic composition, I made a point during my vacation to be cognizant of the little things that differentiate these two famous American cities. Frankly, the big picture is pretty clear. When the presidential election results pour in next November, it shouldn’t take too long for Texas to turn red and for California, despite the disapproval of Governor Schwarzenegger, to turn blue on the map. But why? Evidence providing reasons for this inevitable occurrence were all around me, even before leaving the airport. The following report contains five excerpts from the journal that I carried on my trip.
Clue #1- San Francisco International Airport bathroom. I reach for a towel to dry my hands. A sign in an extremely large font instructs me to take “only what I need,” in order to “conserve resources.” I smile at the green gesture and in an attempt to avoid being outdone, proudly wipe my wet hands on my jeans and exit the restroom. What harm is there in a friendly reminder to avoid wasteful consumption? The airport saves money on supplies, and the earth saves trees. Beautiful.
Clue #2- Asia SF, Restaurant and Gender Illusionist Show- The bill arrives at our table and it’s not as bad as we thought. As expected, there is a blank space available to tip the beautiful “ladies” of Asia SF, but there is another charge that I’ve never seen before. A 4% fee is automatically added to the tab, helping to cover the cost of a San Francisco city ordinance mandating that businesses provide health care coverage for all of their employees. On a $120 bill, the charge comes to $4.80. What a small price to pay for such an important step towards providing a basic human necessity to all Americans!
Clue #3- Driving through Sonoma- There is a banner hung from a property that reads, “Honk for George W. Bush in Prison!” Okay, so maybe there’s no real, universal justification for this, but I laugh…and honk.
Clue #4- Highway 101-For the first time in my life, I see more Smart cars and Hybrids on the road than pickup trucks and Hummers. The passenger count isn’t much different, but for some reason, California drivers do not feel the need to operate army tanks. What a concept!
Clue #5- Margaret Cho at The Warfield Theatre- Standing outside in line, I watch a drug deal go down in plain sight. I’m not sure if the participants feel like the two lesbians running by in wedding dresses are enough to distract nearby police officers or if they are just too high to care. Either way, I am utterly fascinated.
As you can infer from the previous paragraph, there are going to be negatives to living in any city or state, red or blue. What’s most important, from my perspective, is that you find the place in this world that you love the most, whether you fit in or not. For me, visiting San Francisco was a reminder there at there are like-minded people out there, and it was quite refreshing. It very well could have been a side of effect of the perpetual smell of 420 wafting through the city streets, but life just seemed a little easier and a lot more carefree in San Francisco than in Dallas. And while being an unapologetically liberal student at the future home of the Bush Library has its interesting moments, getting lost in the crowd was a wonderful change of pace.