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Union St. safari
By Amanda Nowinski

VACATIONS ARE HARD to come by these days. For the perpetually broke, the occasional N Judah train excursion to the Sunset counts, as does getting completely bombed at some depressing Richmond District bar. If the notion of a vacation is to go somewhere foreign where you won't know a soul, where you can relax and be an outsider, then the economically challenged vacation concept should be expanded to include shitholes that are inside the city, too.

So when my friend Vivian invited me to a free dinner in the Marina last Friday night, I immediately agreed – after all, I was having an extended ugly moment and was down for a vacation from club trash. About five minutes before Vivian called, I had managed to slice open my forehead while simply brushing my teeth, and I was having a difficult time adhering several Pokémon bandages to my face. "Who gives a fuck," Vivian said, eyeing my seething wound and chuckling at my recent accidental crew cut. "We're going to the Marina, and no one there will give a rat's ass about you or me or your fucked-up forehead." And how refreshing it was. No need to pimp and primp, to feel fierce, or even vaguely consider getting laid.

Once inside, we immediately noticed that our waiter was a Hacky Sack-toting Phish fan in a thinly veiled Union Street disguise and smelled far more baked than we did. We tried to establish friendly stoner communion, but he had platinum credit cards on his mind. He took one look at our outfits (and my forehead) and said, "You sure you guys want a dinner menu?" Vivian flashed a gift certificate, and he looked a little dismayed. He didn't bother to tell us about the six different seared-tuna specials.

Unfortunately, I had to go to the bathroom the minute we sat down. I started to panic, completely regretting ever having taken a hit off that joint. I realized I'd have to make my way through the enormous bar crowd, and I wished I had my freak-out-paralysis catheter bag in tow. Vivian shoved me a glass of wine. "You can do it, you ugly little bitch!" she said. "Remember, we're on a yuppie safari. Enjoy."

As I made my way through the bar, I noted that all the men were dressed in pressed blue button-ups and khakis, holding pints of beer close to their pumped-up chests. The women all sported the exact same hair – dyed blond and blow-dried to a perfect flip – and gulped down neon red cosmopolitans, swerving around on their high heels and laughing uncomfortably with their manicured hands covering their mouths. The imminence of sloppy 2 a.m. drunk sex permeated the air – as did the scent of roofies.

Under the scrutiny of the fluorescent bathroom lights, I discovered that everyone here was more fucked-up than any 18-year-old raver would ever be, and it was only 9 p.m. One girl retched in the toilet as her friend rubbed her back with one hand and held a cell phone in the other. "Hurry up and bring some right now – we want to go out after this, and I don't know how I'll manage without." Conversation fluctuated between shoes and outfit, outfit and hair, and of course, the ugly and the downtrodden, which, I suppose, included me. "That bitch is so porked out that I can hardly keep my drink down looking at her," said a woman picking her teeth in the mirror. I looked at my watch and decided to plan a new vacation immediately.

Send comments or tips to amanda@sfbg.com.