Sunday, January 26, 2014

Karl the Fog vs. Saul the Smog

Karl the Fog vs. Saul the Smog For those of you that are unfamiliar with San Francisco, let me preface this by saying that San Francisco is a foggy city. It is surrounded by cold waters (the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay), and to the north and east are climates that stay relatively warm. The cool waters mixed with the warm inland weather make for an ideal breeding ground for fog, especially in the summer months. Fog is so pervasive in San Francisco that it has been personified. We call him Karl the Fog, and he has his own Instagram and Twitter handle. To me, Karl is a wet blanket sort of friend. He crashes a sunny birthday party at Golden Gate Park and ruins it with his gloom. You were just starting to feel warm and fuzzy at Dolores Park, and then Karl rolls in to tell you that he's having the worst day of his life because his fish died + his Netflix queue is all screwed up. Your warm and fuzziness ceases to exist and you have to packup your blanket and go to bed because Karl's depression has left your bones chilled. He can be a bit obnoxious at times, but he can also be incredibly beautiful. When I lived on Nob Hill, I would sometimes walk to Grace Cathedral at night and at the top of the steps before the door, I would turn to look at the city and it would just be a blanket of fog. It looked and felt as though I was sitting on top of a cloud. It was just me and Karl up there, and our conversation was sweet and melodious. Since being in Beijing and Xian, I have met another grey matter that lurks just below the skyline - and also in the lungs. I have named him Saul the Smog. Saul is the type of friend that shows up to the party way too early, smokes the entire night (even when the host has asthma) and doesn't leave when you ask him to. He is like a drunk uncle that lingers in the house with a cigarette always lit, and with his hands in his pants. He gives the babies dreadful coughs and makes the adults as a addicted to tobacco as he is, because, hell, if you are already dying from cancer through secondhand smoke, you might as well get a buzz while you fall to the grave. There are no redeeming qualities to Saul, and since entering Beijing - and Northern China as a whole - he has not left. I do not know if it is because of Saul, but I have noticed a lot more people smoking in Beijing, and also hacking massive, mucus-filled loogies that can be found everywhere: on the bus seats, on the toilet and sometimes even on my shoes. Saul is a pain in my ass and has left my virginal lungs with tar. Okay, he hasn't. I did live in San Francisco, where the fog prompts many folks to smoke another type of substance. Sans Saul, Beijing has been an amazing city that I will write more about in my next blog. Till then, good day!

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