How to survive summer in San Francisco

It was Mark Twain who said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” To which I say, “Really, Mark Twain?  The coldest winter?  Didn’t you live in Connecticut?  That’s a tad hyperbolic, dude.”

Literary license aside (which is fine, he was only one of America’s finest authors, whatevs I’ll forgive him), he had a point: SF summers are distinctly un-summery, especially for an East Coast transplant who’s accustomed to sweltering ninety-degree beach days and sunny backyard grill-outs.  To give you a concrete example, this was what the California Academy of Sciences looked like on my athletic run ambling walk through Golden Gate Park this very morning:

What is this gray ground cloud covering everything? Is it the apocalypse?
What is this gray ground cloud covering everything? Is it the apocalypse?  

As any San Franciscan knows, we are now entering the foggy season, when temperatures occasionally dip into the forties and most days are spent navigating an ever-present haze of fog and trying desperately to un-frizz one’s hair.  It can be rough, but after living here for years, I’m going to share with you my strategies to survive summer in San Francisco:

  • Schadenfreude (#1): Revel in the bewildered disappointment of tourists, all of whom came to SF thinking, oh, it’s California – it’s going to be so sunny and warm!  I’m only going to pack shorts and tiny tank tops and look SO cute and hot!  Hahah, mofos, you got OWNED!  Shoulda gone to San Diego!  You’ll have no problem identifying tourists – they all look cold and miserable and are wearing this sweatshirt that they bought for seventy-five dollars at Pier 39 before going on their Alcatraz tour:
You way overpaid for this
You way overpaid for this 
  • Be a sweaty person (aka schadenfreude #2*): Some people are naturally overheated and sweaty (*cough* me).  These people LOVE San Francisco summers – it is the perfect temperature to walk around town for hours and even run for the bus without breaking a sweat.  Constantly chilly people are the losers, here, and are the ones wearing parkas in August.  Hahahaha, you’re cold but I’m FOOTLOOSE AND PERSPIRATION-FREE!  This schadenfreude also applies to all your friends on Facebook in the rest of the country complaining about how hot it is and how sweaty and gross they are.
  • Pretend you are in a murder mystery/London/it is Halloween:  San Francisco in the fog looks SO cool and possibly haunted, so why not roll with it?  Imagine you’re helping Sherlock Holmes catch Jack the Ripper or that a hot, sparkly, rich vampire who thrives in the fog is going to whisk you off your feet on your way to Whole Foods to stock up on organic kale.**
  • Layer up: Even the aforementioned Constantly Sweaty People get cold during SF summers, so make sure to invest in layers.  You can still wear that cute sundress – just put heavy-duty winter tights on underneath and a giant cardigan on top.  It’s resort wear meets Alaskan dog musher!
  • Eat food:  I mean, you should be doing this daily anyways, but when it is foggy inside this is an extra-good excuse to blow your paycheck on dinner at Boulevard.
  • Drink alcohol: Self-explanatory.
  • Pretend it is real summer anyways, screw it: Jealous of friends/family in warmer climes?  Fuck it, get ice cream for lunch and lie out in the park even though it’s only sixty degrees and laugh in the face of nature as your toes turn blue.
  • Get out (leave), right now***: At some point, no matter how sweaty you are or how much you enjoy foggy vistas, you are going to get fed up with San Francisco’s summer being a complete joke, so you’re going to have to leave.  Luckily, you only have to drive ~30 minutes on any highway to be warm.  Of course, this means you will have to leave San Francisco city limits (GAH!!), but it’s worth it.

You’re welcome.  Good luck out there.

*I fully recognize I am a terrible person for enjoying the misery of others. #sorrynotsorry

**I apologize for the Twilight reference.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  He’s really not hot, anyways.  Just insert whatever vampire you think is hot here.  Probably a True Blood one (Skarsgard).

***On the other hand, I 100% stand by this JoJo reference, no shame.

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