Extra Whipped Cream From A Gay Guy In San Francisco

San Francisco Skyline

No, that’s not a euphemism. The gay guy really did give me extra whipped cream, on the hot chocolate I ordered from one of San Francisco’s million Starbucks coffee shops. This encounter happened at the front of the shop as all regular transactions take place; at no point was I invited to any store cupboards and given ‘a little extra.’ Stop thinking it now, please.

Here’s what happened.

After spending the previous two nights in Haight-Ashbury, the legendary hippie area of San Francisco, I was today obliging the second day of my tourist duties. Yesterday had been a long walk along the bay and beach to the Golden Gate Bridge, today was Chinatown and Market Street and the general downtown area. Incidentally, “downtown” is one of the few American words that I actually think is an improvement on the English equivalent (ours is “city centre”). Soda is another word I like, but I think if I started using that in casual use over here I’d be repeatedly stabbed by Essex chavs and shoved into a wheelie bin.

San Francisco Chinatown

Chinatown disappointed me. I’d been told it was the biggest Chinatown outside of a China town, but bigger doesn’t always equal better, right ladies? In this case, bigger just left me wanting more, or at least something different.

Although I did see the following sign which cheered me up:

Funny Sign in San Francisco China Town

I thought that was hysterical. Yes, I’m childish. I’m aware there are starving children in Africa, homeless people living on the streets of London and chewing gum stuck to the bottom of your chair, and they’re all awful problems (especially that last one), but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to laugh at a sign that says “Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground.”

Before I mount my high horse completely, I’ll step back down and tell you about this Starbucks incident. I walked back from Chinatown and onto Market Street and found a quiet-ish Starbucks. I swear there are more Starbucks’ in San Francisco than there are Republicans, but thinking about it, that’s probably not all that surprising. Hippies! Stoners! Attractive people of indeterminate sex!

San Francisco Government Building

The barista (awful word) was a late-twenties guy with a shy smile and showed a nervous energy as he took people’s orders and served coffee. Somebody else ordered a hot chocolate before I did and the whipped cream he swirled on top was half-hearted at best. “I’ll have a regular hot chocolate, please,” I said in my charming English accent — none of this “can I get a…?” from me, thank you very much.

“Sure thing,” he replied, smiling at my accent, or at my face. It’s not for me to say. I’m just pointing out the facts. “Whipped cream and marshmallows?”

“Go on then,” I said, forgetting to remove superfluous dialogue.

The female barista prepared the hot chocolate then handed it over to my lovely gay chum. He swirled the whipped cream with gusto and finished off the top with a flourish. There was so much there it was already dribbling down the sides.

To conclude, in a very concluding fashion, I loved San Francisco. Chinatown and parts of the city itself were a little lacklustre, but as is so often the case on my travels, things improved when I had an encounter with a gay guy. They sure know how to make life interesting.

15 Comments Add yours

  1. The Guat says:

    Love that sign. Ahhhh. The Bay Area …


  2. Fay says:

    Never been! But sounds great! And that hot chocolate sounded like a right treat!


  3. msdulce says:

    Oh this made me happy. I used to walk by the Willie Woo Woo Wong sign every day on my way to work, and it made me smile Every Single Morning because I have the humor of a 13yr old boy.


    1. ambigram0 says:

      Hooray for teenage childishness!!


  4. Jillian says:

    Oh San Fran.

    That’s really all that needs to be said. 🙂


  5. Anonymous says:

    so Essex lads don’t like Soda then


  6. The Sicilian housewife would like to know, what exactly is wrong with the word barista? The fact that everyone in England has started calling sandwiches panini…. well, I can understand that. Italians make ghastly sandwiches and the Earl of Sandwich must be turning in his grave. But Italian barmen are really very good at cream and froth and stuff like that.


    1. ambigram0 says:

      Ahh, it’s not the word itself I hate – in Italy they *should* be called that because it’s actually a really nice word. What I hate is the way we use it for teenagers who work in Starbucks in America/England. Sounds so wrong.


      1. Anonymous says:

        Ah yes, I see how that is very annoying. But don’t worry, the Italians know how to get their own back!
        In Italy, if you go into a bar you can order “toast” and you get a cheese and ham sandwich. You can also order a “samwich” and you’ll get two pieces of very stale bread with some dessicated bit of dead animal between them. You can even order “plum cake” (correctly pronounced “caaaik”) and you’ll get cake, without a trace of a plum anywhere.


  7. Linda Vernon says:

    Ha! Wonderful observations! All the gay men I know are fun and funny and sensitive and boy do they have style when it comes to serving coffee! And I also agree with you about SF Chinatown. Boring. (except for the sign) I was just thinking the other day that a post on generic Chinatown items might be funny. Like you could either buy the designer back-scratcher with the hand for $1.99 a piece or get a bundle of sticks for half that.


  8. margagogo says:

    Congrats on being freshly pressed. Love your blog. And thank you so much for stopping by margagogo.com!


  9. Really love the first photo in this post, really stunning.


  10. Did you have any locals show you around? I haven’t been able to travel much lately, but living in SF definitely feels like entering a different world every day. I’ve had so many weird experiences.

    Visit again!


    1. ambigram0 says:

      I wasn’t shown around too much of SF, but my host did take me to the top of one of the hills for some great views, and we went to a few bars together. I love couchsurfing!


  11. umbriascribe says:

    Love your humor, love your stories. Great inspiration as I write a bit of humor as well (in both of my books). I grew up in CA, spent a lot of time in SF, and finally lived there for awhile before moving to Italy. You know, Chinatown used to be wonderful, but I’m talking about the 50s and 60s. It was probably even better the first half of the 20th century.

    But back to my time. In those days, it was full of markets with fresh food and Peking Ducks hanging from windows; fortune-cookie kitchens, noodle kitchens where you could get a bowl of fabulous whatever with who-knows-what in it and eat it at the stand-up counter. Really good merchandise for cooking (woks, bamboo steamers, the works). And, this was the best, 100-year old egg vases–HUGE ones. Once they were empty, the stores would sell them for about 10 bucks. Have you ever seen one? They’re gorgeous vases with dragon designs and they’re about 3 feet tall with a 2-foot circumference. My husband and I still have two.

    Ah well, those were the days…when Chinatown was real. Now it imitates itself with
    cheap clap-trap trinkets and mediocre food. Still, glad you liked my old city!!


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