Okay, this is one I don't understand. Maybe someone can answer some questions for me about this.
A little over a week ago, we met four friends for dinner. After dinner, Chip and I took one of the guys on a kind of quickie walking tour of the Castro, as he had been in the Bay Area for a few months, but still had not spent any significant time in the neighborhood.
As we were walking on 18th Street from the Edge toward Castro Street, we encountered two nude men walking down the street in front of us. They were wearing shoes and party hats, but nothing else.
Now, if this were the weekend of the Folsom Street Fair or the Castro Street Fair or Pride or Halloween, it might conceivably make more sense. But this was just a Friday night, nothing special about the day or the date.
Then, when we were walking in front of the Starbucks on 18th near Castro, we saw a third naked man in shoes and a party hat sitting on one of the benches. Apparently, this was not a coincidence, as the other two naked men came up and joined him.
Our theory was that it was tourists who maybe thought this was just what you do (or can do if you so choose) when in San Francisco -- you know, visit the site where Harvey's camera store used to be, go to Alcatraz, drive down Lombard Street, walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, get naked and hang out in the Castro, visit Coit Tower, go to the Haight and listen to the Grateful Dead, just a typical trip to San Francisco.
That was odd enough as an isolated incident, yes?
This afternoon, just a couple of hours ago, Chip and I were driving to the grocery store, and a naked man walked out into 17th Street near the corner of Sanchez Street. He walked up to the yellow line in the middle of the road and stood there, almost as if he were planning to direct traffic. A blue car heading in the opposite direction slammed on his brakes and started honking at the naked guy.
I was looking around for any additional information -- evidence that he had come out of the apartments at the corner, anything that looked like a clue. All I saw was a dirty pair of brown pants and a yellowish box (it might have been a cigarette box) lying in the gutter near the corner of 17th and Sanchez.
As there was not terribly much to be gained from sticking around, we just kept driving down 17th and went to the grocery store.
So here are my questions: Do naked men roam through the Castro all the time, and I've just never noticed during the last eighteen-odd years? Does this actually happen fairly routinely, but my schedule has just been out of sync with the naked men, so I keep missing them? Have we just suddenly gotten some kind of karma that puts us into the paths of naked men wandering around the Castro? Is anyone else seeing naked guys strolling around the neighborhood? Or is there just something in the air lately that's turning men into exhibitionists all of a sudden?
Inquiring minds want to know.
[UPDATE February 2009: While flipping channels recently, I caught a few moments of a Public Access Channel show talking about nudist tours of the Castro District. So this is possibly what we saw. Given that someone commented on seeing almost exactly the same things a few days after us, that might give some support to the nudist tour theory.....]
[UPDATE January 1, 2010: Okay, now I'm curious. Suddenly, in the last 24 hours, there has been a sharp increase in views of this posting. The overwhelming majority of them are coming from Google searches on the term "[the] naked guys of castro street." So where is this very specific and often-repeated search term coming from? What has popularized this exact phrase? Inquiring minds just don't know when to stop asking questions.]