I was in my San Francisco apartment watching the news. They’d been saying it might snow, but of course it didn’t. The snow never came. It got me to think how fantastic it would be to live in a place where it snows. I mean, why does it never snow here? It’s bullshit! Right. I got angry and yelled a few cuss words to the big guy upstairs…not God, you understand, my upstairs neighbor Doug…huge fellow…feet the size of kayaks clomping around. The guy’s a moose. Anyhow, I guess I pissed him off because he got mad and came down to confront me about all my yelling about how San Francisco got ripped off because it never snows.
He said, “Calm down, let’s go for a drink and talk it over.” I grabbed my keys and wallet and he smiled. “You’d better wear a coat; I mean it might get cold out there. Wrap up.”
“It’s like 52 degrees out,” I scoffed.
We were in the elevator and he said, “Do you really think San Francisco would be a better city if it snowed here all the time, like say, Minneapolis or some such place?”
“I do,” I said adamantly.
We stepped out of the building and lo and behold in front of me was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen: a winter wonderland. It was as if a white, fluffy blanket had been dropped from the heavens and landed on the city. Cars were immobilized under piles and piles of snow; they were just white lumps in the street. It was so quiet, peaceful, and yes, idyllic. The sky was a sort of laundry-error dirty white.
“How is this possible?” I asked.
“It’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”
“This, wow, this is so beautiful. I’m amazed. I can’t wait to send my mum some pictures of this.”
“Your mum? What mum? You don’t have a mother. You were never born. Your father was a semi-professional skier and as a young man he came here for the powder and broke his leg in four places, never walked again. He never met your mother and consequently, you don’t exist.”
“That’s crazy, Doug. Of course I exist; you can see and hear me can’t you?”
“A simple trick. Smoke and mirrors stuff.”
I ignored Doug’s stupid joke and we trudged carefully down the street. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but the city just seemed different. At first I thought it was just the snow, but it wasn’t. There weren’t many people around and those that were, seemed hardened and unfriendly and very, very white. Everyone looked the same: All the men had beards and the women seemed timid. It was like small-town…not San Francisco at all. Nothing looked familiar. We got to what I thought was my favorite bar, but now it was an ice skate repair shop. We walked in anyway.
“Hi, I was wondering when you took over this business? I was here what seemed like a month ago and it was still Frank & Kelly’s Bar.”
“I bin here for thirty-two years now,” the man behind the counter said. “No such place as Frank and whatever you said.”
“No, you’re wrong; Frank and Kelly– gay couple, they lived above the bar. Really sweet. They got married last year.” I smiled.
“Married? You tellin’ me two fellas married each other? Why I don’t know where you’re from, mister, but even jest talkin’ that ways a likely to git you strung up.”
I turned to Doug. “What the hell?”
He grimaced. “San Francisco is not San Francisco. There was no gold rush in 1849, because of all of the snow. This city is not even a city, it’s a town the size of a mosquito bite on a whale.”
“No!!…San Francisco is one of the most popular cities in the world. It’s got the rolling hills, the cable cars, the Golden Gate Bridge, The baseball champions, the Giants finally won for God’s sake, Doug.”
“Not San Francisco. There was no Spanish mission here. The town is called Santa Falls…on account that if Santa ever came here, which he doesn’t, he would likely fall over from all the snow. It’s worse than the North Pole they say. Yes there are hills, and every year at least ten kids die trying to toboggan down them. No cable cars, couldn’t run in the snow, and too dangerous if they could. No Golden Gate Bridge and definitely no baseball team. There’s no money to build a ballpark, no one ever comes here. Hell, the best we got is a Sunday league hockey team made up of ice-fishermen and drunks. Let’s face it, not many people want to live in Santa Falls. The place is the 679th most popular place to live in America, behind Devil’s Lips, Montana and Detroit.”
“This is crazy. Okay, okay, I don’t want this; make it back the way it was, Doug, please.”
“Well that involves some heel-clicking and promises not to gripe about no snow.”
“I promise, I promise. Anything.”
Next thing I knew, I was in my Upper Market neighborhood, the sky was bright blue and the snow was gone. A scruffy deadhead hit me up for a dollar. “Get away from me you stinking hippy” I said, and threw him a buck. Doug laughed. Every face we saw was different in color and personality, a wonderful melting pot. Doug suddenly pointed upwards and exclaimed, “Look!”
I gazed up and saw a giant rainbow stretched across the skyline and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank God. There’s no place like home. There really is no place like home. Come on, Doug, let’s go get that drink.”