In putting together this trip to San Francisco and then Big Sur for Mason’s wedding next month, I’ve tried being frugal wherever possible. I want to have plenty of green to spend at City Lights and whatever new-age, patchouli-smelling, dog-centric, karma-enhancing, Greenpeace-supporting, sexually-deviant*, fuckthapolice store I run across. In the interest of saving money, I decided to take a gamble and do Priceline’s name-your-own-price for my car rental. Got a great deal, and I was bragging about it at lunch. Then Robert told me about all these exposes he’s seen about people getting fucked by Priceline. So I got online to do a little digging. Seems most people get screwed when they reserve plane or hotel tickets through Priceline, but car rentals are fine as far as I can tell. Just to be sure, I sent Hertz an email to confirm my reservation is in their system. If it’s not, I’m so kicking Priceline’s ass.

I don’t travel much, so when I do go on a trip, I like to see the highest possible concentration of the cool stuff. That takes research and asking around. The place we’re staying for the wedding festivities in Big Sur is totally cool and was recommended by my parents. It’s right off Highway 1, hidden in the trees. It’s like my cabin-in-the-woods fantasy, only nicer. The doors to each cottage only lock from the inside. That means when you leave your shit there during the day, you need to embrace the magic of the area and not sweat that some asshole is stealing your camera or doing something nasty to your toothbrush. At night, I guarantee that the door will be locked. You can take the girl out of the city…

As for SF, the hotel is booked (we’re staying at the oldest hotel in the city), so now the search is on for what to do. To get the best overview of the city, I’ve purchased books from various perspectives. The one I’m reading right now is called San Francisco Bizarro by Jack Boulware. Interesting read. Didn’t know there was so much *sexually deviant stuff to do in Northern California. For instance, there’s a swinger hotel you can book by the hour or the evening outside of SF. It was built so that each of the rooms has a large window facing an interior courtyard. The idea being that couples engage in their, uh, business in full view. If they are into the voyeur thing only, that’s the end of it. If they are into adding more people to the mix, they leave the door unlocked.

Imagine checking into that place on your way from point A to point whatever but not knowing the hotel’s deal. It’s not like they have a swinger form you fill out when you check in. Or maybe they do. What the hell do I know. For the sake of thinking this through, let’s say for legal (ie, non-discriminatory reasons) they can’t warn you about their specialness when you check in. Your first clue should be that they give you the hourly or overnight option, but you’re really road weary and not paying close attention. You get your key and are juggling your bags as you make your way to your room, and you really, really need to pee so you’re in a hurry. Along the way, you notice a couple has accidentally left their curtains open and are really going at it. You think perhaps they are distracted newlyweds who just forgot to protect their privacy, though you notice neither is exceptionally young (or attractive, for that matter). And one of them locks eyes with you without missing a beat. So to speak. There’s no scrambling for the bedcovers or diving onto the floor to hide. Just this creepy, unwavering eye contact. Horrified (remember, these people are unattractive), you hurry your step. You pass a group of people whose noses are pressed against the window of another room. You walk even faster. Finally, you reach your room. It’s brighter than you expect (the shades are open), but you hardly notice in your need-to-pee and also freaked-out-a-little state. As you enter the bathroom and drop trou, you see a strip across the toilet that says sanitized for your protection. You wonder, is it? Is it really?

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