Ace’s Friday, Jun 22 2007 

998 Sutter (415) 673-0644

Prologue: Open “every day from 6am ’til 2am” –so they say — what’s not to like?

Afterword: What a cheerful place to start this admitedly somewhat daunting adventure; Ace’s set the bar perhaps a bit high for “All 4 A’s in One Day Day”. Per force, the visit was ameliorated auspiciously by the appearance of three Barflies, bearing birthday gifts for the Hostess, no less!

Ace’s makes the most of its corner location with walls of windows, which allow one to enjoy the sunshine, should one find oneself there on such a lovely sunny afternoon as we did (who knows what it looks like at night?). It’s obviously a bar with a local clientele, but I certainly felt very welcome, despite never having been there before, and notwithstanding the fact that we were taking so many pictures that we could have been mistaken for <shudder> tourists. There are many large-flat-screen tv’s mounted about for sports viewing, but there is also a jukebox stocked with everything from the Ramones to Willie Nelson. There is some original art on the walls, as well as an apparently compelling mug shot of a very young Frank Sinatra.

Eric was our bartender of record, and Paladin and I were delighted that he already knew that Bloody Marys taste better with lemons than limes. All the mixed drinks he made for the Barflies were tasty and filled to the brim. Four dollar beers and five dollar cocktails confirmed my original suspicion that Ace’s was going to prove to be a stellar start to this sojourn.

Bathroom Biography:
One, unisex, MUCH cleaner than you would think; huge, nice pink lighting (so you will think you look pretty), overwhelming scent of air-freshining product (but in an inarguably good way); plenty of supplies; Bottom line: Do It.

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Amnesia Bar Inc. Friday, Jun 22 2007 

853 Valencia      ~     WEBSITE      ~     (415) 970-0012

Prologue: This place seems a little impressed with itself — when you get their voice mail they actually imply they may be “too busy to answer the phone” — but I’m working on finding out what time they will actually be open on “All 4 A’s in One Day Day”…

Afterword: OK, this place is probably a lot more happening later at night, but it also seems to be more of a performance venue with a bar, than a bar where things are performed, if you know what I mean. Granted, we got there seconds before 6pm — when they allegedly open — but we were basically disuaded from trying to enter by someone setting up for the 7:30 show, which she attempted to assure us was worth staying around in the increasingly cold Mission for.

Thank heaven for the Hostess’ dedication to “All 4 A’s in One Day Day”! And thank Bacchus for Sean, who was tending bar and instantly understood the importance of the Barflies being able to come in and belly up, so to speak. How hilarious, when, after such strife, I asked for a vodka martini — when I had been duly warned during dinner at a taqueria down the street that Amnesia was a beer & wine & <ick> soju only joint. But Sean didn’t kick me out, so I settled for a glass of Voigner, and the Baflies and I sized up the joint.

It’s not exactly spacious. But all the lights are red, so everyone looks their best. And we were witnessing some sort of show setting-up, so we were basically backstage for something (either Klezmer music, a puppet show, or a band — depending on who we asked). A priceless memory was made when one of the evening’s eventual performers came back to our end of the bar and asked, a bit frantically, “did I drop my nose here?” It is not as if you can go just anywhere and hear something like that, after all.

My final analysis of Amnesia is that the bartenders are wonderful. They “GET IT”, and will answer any number of questions you ask. Is it a venue with a bar or a bar with a stage — you should decide for yourself. But I do think you will have a better time there if they are having a show in which you are interested. That is probably why they have the website — to keep out interlopers such as myself and the Barflies. But they were ultimately hospitable, never the less. Which, I must say (pun intended) speaks volumes.

Bathroom Biography:
One for each traditional gender, differentiated by somewhat ambiguous pictures on each door (ladies, walk to the back–what follows applies to ladies’ accommodations only); quite unsavory at first — force necessary to engage lock; soap: implied but not actual; paper towels: strangely very high on the wall (decidely not ADA compliant, in case you manage to get a wheechair in the first place). Bottom line: Wait if Possible.

Black Horse London Pub, The Friday, Jun 22 2007 

1514 Union ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 928-2414

Easter Sunday afternoon 8 April 2007

Prologue: What better way to follow the Big Wheel Races down Lombard Street than a visit to a pub in the vicinity? (Take a taxi if you want, but rumor has it Wanda is going to be there and she likes to walk. What the hell – thanks to global warming, it’s bound to be a beautiful day.) And what more festive Easter fare can there be but pastrami sandwiches? I’m really looking forward to drinking at The Black Horse London Pub. Not only do the proprietors understand that definite articles are not to be included in alphabetization (always a good sign) but it is purportedly the smallest Bar in San Francisco (7 x 19 feet — can you imagine it?!?). As if those weren’t reasons enough to drink there, they also have their own Rules (which they call “Tenets” and looky at the first one: “Thou Shall give priority seating to all Women in the Bar. (If you need further explication, please see “Exit.”)” — does this place scream “Grenadine” or what?

Afterword: The afternoon began with a quite a bang at the Big Wheel Races, which I am not even going to try to describe here because, let’s face it, either you were there and you know there really aren’t words to do them justice (especially if you saw the guy in the kilt wipe out at the end of the last race, let’s just say he was wearing his attire – ahem – traditionally), or you weren’t there, and really, you should have been.  Anyway, The Black Horse London Pub is a pleasant stroll away from the curvy part of Lombard Street, and Wanda and I sauntered there, as planned, marvelling all the way that we managed to locate each other in the masses at the races,  speculating as to whether their greatness will translate on YouTube, and wondering if The Black Horse London Pub was really going to be open on Easter Sunday…

Which it was.  And there was already a regular there (hi Allen!).  We introduced ourselves to the bartender, whose name is Dave, which is always a good sign for me because all the guys named Dave I have ever met have been nice ones (Allen says watch out for Georges, though).  This particular Dave is also adorable, I might add.  He introduced us to Allen and proceeded to apologize for the small selection of beers available that afternoon.  (Apparently the previous evening had depleted the ususal inventory.)  Since all they sell is beer (ok, and cider), it didn’t matter to me that they only had four varieties, because, as some of us agreed later, beer is pretty much beer (you had to be there, this was positively profound at the time). 

It is definitely, as advertised, the smallest bar in San Francisco.  While the pastrami sandwiches are apparently some sort of myth,  they do serve nice cheese plates.  And then, there are the calendars (go and ask to see them).  The most striking thing about The Black Horse London Pub, though, is how much Fun fits into such a small space.  I am talking physics-defying here.  I could not believe what a good time I was having, drinking beer of all things, talking to people (which, if you know me, you know I profess to pretty much dislike in most instances). 

Wanda said at some point, “This place is like Cheers,” to which I replied, “Only better.”  What I can’t put my finger on is the question of whether only cool, fun people go to The Black Horse London Pub, or do all people become magically transformed into cool, fun people when they walk in the door?  What I do know for certain is that everyone who was there on Sunday was cool and fun, and friendly, and downright jolly, and I didn’t even care that all they sell is beer (ok, and cider).  

Of course, meeting Shakes didn’t hurt.  He’s another regular, and was having some moving disaster, and like any intelligent, right-minded individual after my own heart, he decided the best thing to do was to head to a pub for a drink.  Dave introduced us and when I told him about Bars By The Book, he wiped an imaginary tear from his eye and said something to the effect that it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard of, which is a much better response than the usual “why?” or “are you serious?” I typically get.  He signed up on the spot and I may or may not have fallen completely in love with him for at least that moment.  He bought Wanda and I a round of drinks, and I’m looking forward to helping him find a local favorite Bar in his new neighborhood.  Not to mention the fact that he’s in the 2007 calendar (you need to go and ask to see them, trust me), and he promised to autograph mine (whenever The Black Horse London Pub gets around to printing them out this year) — Shakes is indeed a most welcome new Barfly (hi Shakes!).  

Shakes finally decided to it was time to go and finish dealing with his moving woes.  And Wanda and I were getting around to leaving, too, but then Dave’s parents showed up to bring him Easter dinner, so of course we had to stay a little longer to chat with them.  They were just as cool and fun as everyone else there.  Dave’s mom even said if she had known that people would actually be there on Easter Sunday, she would have brought enough food for everyone (and I am not making this up).  It was a good thing we stuck around, because we got to meet James, too (hi James, are you still keeping an eye on me?). 

The Black Horse London Pub was a great place to spend Easter evening.  It’s a great place to spend any evening, really, and I plan on spending some more there.  After all, I’ll have to pick up my calendar…

As if the Big Wheel Races, and The Black Horse London Pub, and kickin’ it with Wanda wasn’t enough to make that Sunday the Best Easter Ever, wiat ’til you hear what an adventure befell me on the way home! (See the Various Marginalia page’s entry about The # 1 California bus for details — and no, I was not drinking on the bus, which is not to say I never do…)

Bathroom Biography:
One (obviously!).  Small (even more obviously), but surprisingly not the smallest I have seen (go figure!).  There’s a metal box of some sort on the wall that apparently poses some hazzard to tall (or drunk?) people, because there is a warning written on it to watch your head, but I didn’t feel the least bit menaced.  Getting to the bathroom might be tricky if there is a dart game going on (yes, there is a dart board, which is incongruous to say the least).  Bottom line: go for it — as all they serve is beer (ok, and cider), you’re sure to need to pee, and you’ll get to meet everyone at that end of the bar on your way.

Bus Stop Friday, Jun 22 2007 

1901 Union ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 567-6905

8:00pm Friday 25 May 2007

 Prologue: Their website is SUPER ANNOYING. Do not click on the link to it unless you want to be directed to a page that plays music which you cannot turn off and is not very informative, at that. (Oh, well, it’s a Bar in the Marina, so what else can you really expect besides a dose of obnoxiousness?) On the plus side of things, the Bus Stop is the first Bar That Is Also a Cocktail Lounge, which is certainly something worth noting. It is also the last Bar that starts with a “B”.  So really, why would you not check it out with me…? 

You might also consider reading Mark Morford’s reflection on excessive drinking beforehand.  I can’t decide if he is pro or con (or has just given up on deciding) in his conclusion, but I do enjoy his prose. And it’s a nice reminder that maintaining the ability to remain upright is essential to say, any “artistic adventure considerably illuminated by champagne” (which is a phrase that appears on the first page of a book called  “Babbitt” by Sinclair Lewis that is otherwise a terrible waste of time so don’t bother reading it because this phrase is the best part of the book, trust me). 

Afterword:  Let me begin this little synopsis by apologizing for taking so long to write it.  I am well aware of the first rule of ridiculous blogging: “update, update, update” — but what can I say?  I wanted to wait until I had time to write something worthy of my Bus Stop experience (and I have been nursing a broken toe — more or less — keep reading).

Paladin and I took the bus to the Bus Stop, because I am nothing if not a propos.  I was excited as I always am on the threshold of “THE NEXT BAR!”, but I do have to admit that my initial impression was somewhat less-than-enthusiastic.  This did not phase me in the least, of course, because I was expecting a pretty stereotypical Marina (and therefore largely unpleasant) hangout, so the fact that the Bus Stop seemed only about 50% stereotypical Marina clientele was actually a plus.  You see, the Bus Stop is actually not a “Marina bar”.  It’s really one of the oldest bars in San Francisco (est. 1900) and what it is is a neighborhood Bar that just happens to be in the neighborhood of the Marina (of course Paladin will debate semantics with you for hours between what is the Marina vs. what constitutes Cow Hollow, but come on, what is the difference, these days, hair-gel-wise?).  What this means is that there are stereotypical Marina-types in there, but at least half the people there are from the neighborhood from well before the designation “Marina” took on its dot-bomb negative connotations, so once you settle in and realize this, you will calm down about the fact that people might be looking at you a little funny, because if you are not from the Marina (or Cow Hollow), they are just wondering what you are doing there, that’s all.

Which is to say that the Bus Stop did not immediately strike me as a destination spot.  What the Bus Stop also happens to be is a sports bar — with 22 tv screens of various sizes all turned to sports and a back room full of pool tables.  So if you want to see sports, I suppose you might head there from elsewhere on purpose, but that’s not why I go to Bars, is it?  So I can’t assess the Bus Stop from the perspective of a sports bar afficinado.

But I can (oh, and I will!)  assess the Bus Stop from a Barfly perspective and as it turns out, the main reason I didn’t like the Bus Stop more immediately is because I allowed myself to be seduced by their window seats, which are bright (being in the windows and all) and do have railings just wide enough to balance a drink on, and even have the same stools as the bar, but I had separation anxiety from the bartender as soon as I had turned my back on him to look out the window and let’s face it, the bar is always the best place to be. 

So when the 25-somethings thronging the bar cleared out to go and peer at the rest of us from their peripheral tables, we moved to the middle of the bar and I instantly felt much more at home.  It is possible this was occasioned, at least in part, to the arrival of the newest Barfly, Scotty, who had ventured blocks (blocks!) outside of his usual drinking zone and obviously needed The Hostess to create the illusion of the familiar if he was going to make it through the requisite Drink.  But meeing Ron, the bartender, was also definitely a factor in the merriment which ensued.  (And I don’t even think I ever got around to telling him the fascinating fact that the Bus Stop is the first Bar In The Book that is also a Cocktail Lounge!)

While Scotty was being miffed by the presense of the creepy guy at the end of the bar with the terrible pick-up lines (he actually asked me if I was his new belly dance instructor, if you can even believe it!) — who has already been 86-ed from where you can otherwise find Scotty enjoying a vodka concoction — and Paladin disappeared outside on the premise of taking a suspiciously long phone call (that could have easily been four cigarettes in a row), I remained calm by focusing on the example Ron set by his sublime equanimity when I explained Bars By The Book to him.  He didn’t bat an eye.  He didn’t seem to care.  He served a bunch of other people their drinks and then, without seeming to have paid any mind whatsoever to what I had told him about the Bus Stop being the # 15 Bar in The Book, served me a complimentary (my favorite kind!) cocktail and started putting the venerable history of the Bus Stop into proper perspective for a new-comer like me.

Well, you know how I feel about charming gentlemen (love them!).  Ron had that one-two punch of charming gentleman plus credit-to-his-profession-of-bar-tender thing going on and I was just smitten.  I could have sat there for (even more) hours, listening to him tell me all about the long (and fajita-checkered) past of his place of employment for the last 20 (right Ron?) years … but there was an old-timey two-person table-top version of Ms Pacman I simply had to check out before I lost any semblance of reflexes, so Scotty and I went over to ask the motor cycle boys to move their helmets off the game (which they seemed happy to do, when asked politely) and I proceeded to kick some serious vintage video game ass (if I do say so myself).

It’s hard to say what happened next.  Jason (we’re giving him 12-year status) started his shift behind the bar and Ron introduced us, and the only thing better than one great bartender is a pair of them, so that was like putting frosting on ice cream.  Scotty seemed to have gotten over the fact that the Bus Stop martinis are Barbie-doll sized (although only $5.50 and made with Belevedere, to be fair), and then the Zombies showed up.  It was frankly a lot to keep track of (and the 25-somethings in the corners seemed utterly unsure of what to make of the Zombies, which was priceless, thank you, Zombies!).  And I wish I could explain the Zombies to you, but those darn Zombies don’t seem to have a permanent website I can link to, and they are beyond even my powers of description (which should tell you a lot, actually).  Suffice to say that there were Zombies.  (And really, need I say more?)

While I can’t explain the Zombies, I did get pictures with them.  Which was when Ron offered to take some pictures of all the Barflies (yes, the Zombies were ‘flies), which was when I, said what I really wanted was to go Behind the Bar and have my picture taken with him and Jason (which I learned at The Black Horse London Pub, you are supposed to wait to be asked to go Behind the Bar, well … who knew?)  My self-invitation was accepted (to my delight — it’s the best vantage point in a bar, you know…) and in the midst of a photo op. that resulted in two adorable photos, I have to admit that I did some damage to the middle toe on my right foot.  (Attention!  All my fault and damage not permanent, I promise!) 

There is a reason that one shouldn’t venture Behind the Bar unless given permission.  It can be a dangerous (or at least somewhat tricky) place and is really best left to professionals.  In the case of the Bus Stop, there is an outcropping of something that is very hard and metallic and precisely the right location to injure any appendages — however small and dainty — that may be peeking out of an open-toed shoe.  Thank Bacchus I had worn my oh-so-trendy-&-Marina-riffic wedge platform sandals that night or things could have been much worse.  I seem to have escaped permanent disfigurement, and the jury (entirely fictional as I assure you it is) is still thinking I won’t even lose the toenail.  Whew!  The toe trauma did sort of bring the evening to an end sooner than it might have otherwise wound up, but that was probably not altogether a terrible thing because the drinks at the Bus Stop are apparently full-strength (despite the size of the glassware), and hey, a mangled toenail is an excuse to take a vicodin, after all (however I think Nora Charles, who arrived — albeit fashionably — late as usual was ticked off at the somewhat sudden-seeming and certianly a bit disorganized departure, and I did spend all weekend — in-between ice-pack applications — hoping I am not on her bad side because that would be a bleak place to be … Nora?).

Alas, in the process of trying very hard to ignore the fact that my toe was probably (and in fact) bleeding rather steadily, I did not make it to the bathroom of the Bus Stop, so I cannot comment on it.  I can tell you that while I was wandering around the pool tables at the beginnng of the evening, admiring the walls of photographs of the Bar and its many years of dedicated patrons, a very nice woman named Rose thought perphaps I was lost and kindly showed me where the ladies room is (it is behind the Ms Pacman game, not in the pool table room where the gents’ lavatory is located).  So, in lieu of a Bathroom Biography, I will tell you three other useful things to know about the Bus Stop: (1) they do take credit cards; (2) they have a sign that says they charge an automatic 15% gratuity on all open tabs; (3) you cannot actually see yourself in the mirrors that are behind all the bottles on the wall Behind the Bar, which is annoying, but the wall opposite the bar is a giant mirror you can see yourself in (if you don’t mind wandering into the midst of the table-hugging 25-somethings who may already be looking askance at you, especially if you are openly consorting with Zombies).

Oh, and lest you think this toe thing was trivial, it actually trumped the Offical Photo outside the Bar.  This has led to a new Policy: the Official Photo will henceforth be taken at the beginning of the Offical Visit.  Missing 2 shots out of 15 is enough already!  This also pushes back our visit to the # 16 Bar, because I need to convalesce a bit until I am in shape to salsa with Jonny-Georgia.  In the meantime, why don’t you go to the Bus Stop and tell me what their bathrooms are like…?

Cafe Cocomo Bar Grill & Night Club Friday, Jun 22 2007 

650 Indiana ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 824-6910

7:30 PM (or as close thereto as the #22 Fillmore will get you thereabouts) Wednesday 13 June 2007

Prologue: It’s official: I am going on an upcoming Wednesday — Wednesday June 13th, to be precise — for the salsa lessons, of course. (Wanda gave me some impromtu salsa lessons, once upon a time, but I’m way beyond rusty in the the department of swivelling my hips and moving my feet in a co-ordinated fashion, sad to say.) They also have them on Mondays, but even in Spanish, that doesn’t sound likely to be as happening as a Miercoles noche might be. I love their dress code! (Fail to note it at your own risk.)  My plan is to beg Jonny-Georgia to come learn to salsa with me. And if he takes me up on this offer, this is a sight you won’t want to miss, trust me — ahem.  I’ve actually been to Cafe Cocomo Bar & Grill Night Club before, as part of the far-less-entertaining than-it-sounds Mexican Bus trip. But I’m sure I’ll have more fun this time (especially if Jonny-Georgia is there — ahem) and I’d love it if you could join me.  Come on, don’t make me dance with a stranger — you know how I feel about people!  Now, if you’re coming, bring your dancing shoes, because one should not bother going to the #3-rated Salsa Club in the country if one is not going to dance, as far as The (admitedly somewhat opinionated) Hostess is concerned.  Oh, and anyone who cuts in on me and Jonny-Georgia (if he makes my fondest wish come true and decides to drop in) does so at the risk of some potentially serious bodily harm.  I’m just saying … and really, I saw him first!

Afterword: Let me begin by warning you that Cafe Cocomo Bar Grill & Night Club’s website is not as accurate as the scrupulously researched and meticulously proof-read one you are currently enjoying.  On the evening of the Official Visit, the doors did not open at 7:30 (more like 7:50) and the cover was not $7.00 (it was $8.00),  as advertised on the website.  I would suggest that you call them up to confirm hours, cover charges, etc. before you head there yourself, but they do not seem to answer the phone at Cafe Cocomo Bar Grill & Night Club, so this will probably not be as helpful as one might wish.

The good news is that it’s a little tricky to actually get to Cafe Cocomo Bar Grill & Night Club, so you might be running late, and your late arrival might co-incide nicely with their late unlocking of the gates.  Never mind the confusing lack of any sense of order in the way those “state streets” are laid out (I was thinking perhaps reverse alphabetical order, but no, that’s not it either), the 600-block of Indiana Street is one of those M.C. Escher-esque types that you can see from other surrounding streets, but any way to reach it remains perplexing for a lap or two and a few re-crossings of the 280 overpass.  (Or at least it does if you are me, and only have two maps, and are enjoying a balmy fog-free evening which means that there is sun in your eyes.)

If you go on a Wednesday night, once you manage to get yourself onto the proper block, parking will be no problem, as there is nothing else around but non-descript looking buildings.  I do wonder who decided to put a night club there, but perhaps feeling as if you have travelled to an exotic and far-off locale is what they were going for. 

So Wanda and I loitered around until they finally unlocked the chain link gates and let us in with barely enough time to order — much less consume —  a margarita before the salsa lessons were to begin.  Fortunately for us, the bartender was all ready to mix us up a couple (from scratch — of course — none of that nasty pre-mixed madness, thank goodness!).  His name was Ken (hi, Ken!) and I resolved to spend more quality time with him when I was done looking silly on the dance floor, which was one of the many things I was there to do, after all.

And look silly I did — as will you, should you decide “to bravely go”, etc. — but everyone else looks silly, too, so it doesn’t matter.  Learning to salsa dance in a group is one of those things which you will either think is fun and perhaps a little goofy, or you will hate (in which case you will probably not be learning to salsa dance in a group — now will you? — so not to worry).  It’s even easy — at least at first.  The instructor has everybody stand up and he shows you the basic steps, and you practice the hip-swivelling in time with the feet-moving thing, and then they turn on music, too, and pick up the pace a little, and just when you think you might be getting it, the instructors re-arrange you into a circle around them and instruct you to get a partner and put into practice what you have just learned, by which they mean: Dance — and probably with a stranger (especially if the person you invited specifically to avoid dancing with a stranger hasn’t shown up)!

Actually, even if the dance partner of your dreams is there, the instructors make everyone switch partners so that everyone gets to dance with everybody else.  This is good, because you might otherwise get stuck dancing for longer than you might like with any particular stranger.  But it is also not so good, because one thing about paired couple dancing is that at least one of you needs to have some sort of clue what you are doing, and when you are talking about a group of people taking basic salsa lessons, this means that a fair number of the opposite sex is going to have no clue, and therefore not be much help to you.

Unless you are a fabulous dancer like Wanda is, and then you can be the one with the clue (and the moves!) and you can help your partner.  If, however, you are more like me, you might find yourself gazing wistfully over your shoulder at your margarita, wishing you could sit down and have a sip or two before all the ice melts.  If you are on my page at this point, and really feel like you have gotten your $8.00 worth with the footwork part of the lesson, then when the instructors add fancy spins into the mix, you will definitely become entrenched in the “clueless” camp (if only in your own mind).

This is when having extra people on hand who know how to salsa would come in handy.  Alas, that night there was a shortage of males, clueless or otherwise, but that meant I finally could make it back to my lonely margarita while I waited for it to be the next hapless chap’s turn to have me demonstrate my cluelessness in his arms (which did not seem to be as bad as it sounds, judging from the various reactions to having to dance with me).

The funny thing was, it was still pretty fun.  I never got very good at putting all the swivelling and stepping and spinning together, but I did learn that all a girl really needs to do is follow the boy’s lead, and there were a couple of them there with enough of a clue that I got some in some pretty good spins.  Especially when I danced with the instructor, who refused to let me keep protesting that I wasn’t any good at the spinning part.  He basically did away with any trace of the lessons he had just taught us and spun me around so much I started thinking maybe he had spun me back into the ’70’s and I was in “Saturday Night Fever“, thereby confirming my theory that it only takes one person who has a clue to make two people look pretty spiffy on the dance floor (see also: “Dirty Dancing“).

I learned later, while chatting with Ken, that, completely contrary to what I had imagined (what else is new?), Monday nights are actually busier than Wednesdays.  It’s still not packed on lunes like on the weekends, Ken says, but more people than were there on that particular miercoles should statistically mean more males, which could translate into the potential for more Fun (and/or cluelessness, but whatever).  The place is pretty vast, by San Francisco Bar (and bar) standards, and I would definitely recommend it for group outings of any sort (unless it is a group of people too uptight to have fun learning how to salsa dance with a stranger or two, but why would you want to hang out with a group of those kinds of people?).  In point of fact, that age-old cliche “the more, the merrier” is one of Bars By The Book’s guiding principles (as long as “the more” is not excessive, and does not throw cigarette butts on the ground), so a place such as Cafe Cocomo Bar Grill & Night Club is a good one to have up one’s sleeve.

Now, I am aware that what you really want to know is what happened after Jonny-Georgia got there (which you know he did because this post has been tagged with his name since the morning after on account of the fact I knew I had to give you something to satisfy at least a scrap of your curiosity until I had time to write up this re-cap properly).  What happened was … it had been so long since I had laid eyes on Jonny-Georgia that I barely recognized him when he strolled in.

But once I got within dazzling distance of those dimples of his, there was no mistaking him for anyone else.  Since he had (purposely — the rascal!) missed the lesson portion of the evening, when we finally did dance it bore no resemblance whatsoever to salsa-ing, but I didn’t care because I will dance anytime, anyplace, anywhich way with Jonny-Georgia (in case you couldn’t tell).  Being the fine and generous friend that I am, I even urged Wanda to dance with him — which she somewhat mistifyingly declined to do.  Come to think of it, she may have had my above-mentioned comment about “bodily harm” in mind…

In any event, I was so distracted after Jonny-Georgia finally showed up that I forgot to check for hooks while he was buying me a margarita (maybe Ken can help me out on this, Ken?).  I couldn’t even take my eyes off him long enough to look for smoking refuse receptacles outside (but surely somewhere, on such a lovely patio, festively lit with twinkly lights winding around and amidst palm trees and all, there must be some kind of ashtrays, right?).  It’s a good thing newly adopted Bars By The Book protocol mandates that I take the Official Picture before the merriment commences or I probably would have forgotten that (again) too!

Being as I am not the sort of girl to kiss and tell (so to speak), you will have to ask Wanda what happened after we decided to call it a night and offered to give Jonny-Georgia a lift to somewhere he would have a prayer of catching a cab.  I won’t even ask her to refrain from divluging the details (such as any there may or may not be).  However I will tell you this much (since I have the otherwise inexplicable unphotogenic photographic evidence to prove it): Jonny-Georgia and I are much better in person.  For that matter, so is this whole Bars By The Book lark.  Believe it or not, even my captivating and witty prose does not completely convey the true nature of the Official Visits.  By which I mean that you should really join me — either for the first time or more often.  While I can’t guarantee how much fun you’ll have, I can bet you a drink that being there is at least as entertaining as reading about it, and definitely easier than salsa lessons!

Bathroom Biography:
Perhaps the proprietors of Cafe Cocomo Bar Grill & Night Club have gotten a little carried away with their whole “let’s make them think they are south of a lot more than than the Mission” aesthetic when it comes to the restrooms.  This might explain the basically disastrous condition in which I found the ladies’ room.  Otherwise, the management needs to schedule much more thorough and frequent cleanings, to say nothing of doing something about the garrish lighting.  Bottom line: be brave and go for it.  It’s not like there’s anywhere else you can go anywhere in the vicinity, and there’s a good chance you will take a wrong turn (or six) on the way home, so you shouldn’t count on being able to wait.  Just consider it part of the “exotic” atmosphere, and maybe tuck a travel-sized bottle of that hand sanitizer stuff in your purse.  And perhaps take some small comfort in knowing that at least this bathroom is not as bad as the one at Harrington’s Bar & Grill was on a recent un-offical visit, by which I mean it could be (and might yet again be) worse.

The Barfly Forum Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

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