Don’t Call It Frisco

I finally sat down to begin a long-overdue reading of my friend’s first novel, SoMa (I’m on a virtual tear with this reading thing). I’m only about 80 pages in so far, but so far it’s a wonderful read. Finally someone managed to create a “believable bisexual”. Yeah, I suppose I do have a bit of a prejudice about Kinsey 3-to-4s, but there it is. He’s convinced me more than any other person—real or fictional—has managed. I buh-leeeeve! I buh-leeeeve!

Another prejudice I have is in favor of San Francisco, which I suppose many consider to be equivalent to prejudiced-against not-San Francisco. Contrapositives only work in grossly, uninterestingly simplistic versions of reality…those who depend on the Either-or Fallacy or whose mental meanderings and purposive trains of thought inexorably lead to a single Ultimate Statement: God did it.

I was reading along at my pokey pace, feeling a vague discomfort with the transient, itinerant and intransigent characters’ lives. In other words, I’m fully in-story with the writing. I like that a lot.

It is for the most part set in SoMa—South of Market—here in San Francisco. Somewhere in the pages I’ve read so far is a perfectly situated instance of someone referring to our San Francisco as “Frisco”.<br/> <br/>-shudder-<br/> <br/> Even typing that makes my skin crawl. I know why, intellectually, but I also don’t really understand why on any other level why that word produces such a nasty assault on me. I even shudder when someone mentions they’re from a town actually called that!

I acquired a nominal respect for San Francisco before I learned that “Frisco” was bad, even before I discovered that it’s standard protocol for San Franciscans to reject most any abbreviated form of the name. How? I read in the paper years and years ago (at least a dozen) an article whose title was the inspiration for the title of this entry: Don’t Call it ‘Frisco’. It was story about how the police knew something was fishy about the couple of men they pulled over for speeding. When the police enquired where they were headed, the driver responded something like “home, to Frisco”. It was enough of a gaff that the policeman looked up their identities to discover that they had escaped from prison and were on the run. I read it and the very word hit me like a slap across the face.

It’s one of those things that makes a San Franciscan feel more like an ethereally-knit community: arriving at the same reactions to the same things independent of others. We have more in common here than a love of San Francisco and a vigilant dread of the next earthquake. We have this “thing” about us. Whether that is a quality imbued on us naturally or whether we acquired it here is not for me to say. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, indeed.

Such is the feeling of inhabiting-while-reading this book. It’s here. It’s home. There are alien experiences, characters the likes of whom I have never met, but the characters in San Francisco are very…um….San Francisco! And the girls from Concord are so…..not.

Again with the wishing I were reading faster because I’m impatient to see what happens next.

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