I said ‘tapas,’ not ‘topless’

We should have known better, watching San Francisco’s cable cars grind by, billowing with tourists. There were so many camera-brandishing sightseers, they virtually tumbled off the sides. All of them destined for Fisherman’s Wharf.

I don’t know why, but we followed. We could have headed straight for Haight-Ashbury. Instead we plodded to the Wharf.

And what did I get for it?

Scared to death by a homeless guy. (see post script below)

He might not have been homeless, but he did a damn good job of dressing like one.

His busking shtick involved squatting behind a handful of tree branches and jumping out, growling at passersby.

Frankly, he was scary enough without the tree branch….

It didn’t matter that the greenery didn’t hide him, or that he peered overhead to see people approaching, or that a mess of wilted branches on a concrete walkway looks pretty suspicious.

While gabbing away I practically had a heart attack when he leapt out and snarled at me.

But my almost-coronary collapse was entertaining to Martin. Worth a dollar for creativity.

The tourists who weren’t at the Wharf were loitering on Lombard Street, watching cars drop down like pinballs in the curves. (Admittedly, it’s a beautiful street).

Instead of cursing the throngs, we embraced them. Martin put in extra effort by edging into other people’s photos.

I think he blended in:

Hmm…which one is not like the others?

Later that evening, we asked some guy to recommend a restaurant with tapas but when we stepped out of the cab, I was sure that the guy heard “topless.” Wall to wall strip clubs.

Also home to Little Italy. Go figure.

We never found tapas but this particular Italian restaurant (see below) was so good, we ignored the beckoning doormen at the topless clubs and ate there the second night. If you’re in San Fran, check it out.

Post script: At least one reader emailed me to mention that she’d been scared by the same homeless-looking guy about five years ago. Apparently the “Bushman” is a SF institution who’s been operating for as many as 30 years. Long enough to earn a beloved following, and chock up a few citations and legal dustups.